THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS
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.
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.”
HOLIDAY WITH HISTORY
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.