The smell of crack­ling fires in ev­ery fire­place, the heady scent of pine and warm can­dle­light set a fes­tive at­mos­phere for cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas in this mod­ern coun­try house.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY NAR­RA­TIVES/SIAN WILLIAMS

This mod­ern coun­try house en­joys a fes­tive sea­sonal at­mos­phere with fires crack­ling in ev­ery fire­place, warm can­dle­light and the heady scent of pine.

Christ­mas is a mag­i­cal time spent with fam­ily and gath­er­ings of friends. And for Lieset El­shout, it’s a time when her home feels truly spe­cial. Set on two acres of ram­bling gar­dens and sur­round­ing Ox­ford­shire hills, the house, she says, em­anates a magic all its own. “It’s the per­fect win­ter home,” Lieset says. An open fire­place draped in win­ter green­ery greets you in the hall­way, and a plump feather-filled sofa and well-worn leather chairs beckon you to sit in the can­dlelit liv­ing room.

Both Lieset, an in­te­rior de­signer and an­tique fur­ni­ture dealer (“mainly Swedish and French styles”) and her hus­band, An­dre, an en­tre­pre­neur, lead busy lives with their fam­ily and work­ing be­tween home and of­fices in town. So the win­ter sea­son is a good time to switch from the pres­sures of ev­ery­day life and re­ally en­joy the fes­tiv­i­ties with peo­ple they love.

The house was orig­i­nally a 16th-cen­tury cot­tage (farm­house) with var­i­ous out build­ings that have grad­u­ally been con­nected over the years. When the cou­ple first bought it, they ex­tended it, chang­ing the lay­out both up­stairs and down, re­sult­ing in larger rooms, more bath­rooms and a bet­ter flow from one room to the next, thus tai­lor­ing the house to the fam­ily’s needs. “I wanted to keep the cot­tage feel of the house. Even though it’s been ex­tended, we wanted to avoid it feel­ing too big, so the low ceil­ings, nat­u­ral col­ors and the mod­ern coun­try style give the il­lu­sion it’s smaller,” she says. “And now that it’s fully fin­ished, it feels com­fort­able and homey.”


Any­one vis­it­ing the house will re­ceive a wel­com­ing in­vi­ta­tion to the kitchen and be ush­ered in to sit at a huge dis­tressed blue table (one of Lieset’s prized an­tique pos­ses­sions).The table will be filled with all kinds of tasty treats, col­or­ful vin­tage and pa­per

SCENTS OF THE SEA­SON. A plate of fes­tive short­bread bis­cuits sits on the hall­way table for Lieset’s party guests along with a group of fret­work tea lanterns from Pipii, sprigs of aro­matic spruce and pinecones to set the fes­tive mood.

WIN­TER MANOR. The house is sur­rounded by 2 acres of ma­ture, ram­bling gar­dens and 5 acres of open fields, giv­ing the chil­dren plenty of free­dom toplay and ride their two ponies, Pip and Topsey.

LIGHT THE WAY. Lit­tle glass lanterns and tree lights are hung in the gar­den by Lieset and her chil­dren, so as day­light starts to fadeto dusk, they light a path­way to the door for guests.

OUT­DOOR DÉ­COR. Rus­tic pa­per dec­o­ra­tions hang from tree branches along the gar­den path in prepa­ra­tion for a gath­er­ing of friends for Christ­mas drinks.

|ABOVE LEFT| HOL­I­DAY SPREAD. Spruce sprigs, can­dles, lit­tle mince pies and col­or­ful mini baubles are scat­tered ran­domlyacross the table Lieset bought in Bel­gium 15 years ago.

|ABOVE RIGHT| FIRE­SIDE SWEETS. A plate of mince pie treats from Betty’s sits on the edge of the leather chair. The pies are dis­played atop a layer of plum-colored nap­kins from Denby, spruce sprigs and a sil­ver acorn dec­o­ra­tion.

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