Friday 20 April 2018

Carolyn Donnelly's eclectic guide on Christmas decoration

Emer O'Reilly Hyland

WHIMSICAL is the best description of Carolyn Donnelly's Christmas style.

The fashion designer's home, overlooking Dublin bay, is filled with baubles – but you won't find any of the usual traditional combinations. Far from it. Carolyn's style is to go for fluorescent, neon, retro and, above all, eclectic.


Here’s Carolyn’s advice for breaking with tradition and being a Thoroughly Modern Milly this Christmas.


Star brights: Memories of childhood Christmases in Tullamore, Co Offaly, have influenced how Carolyn, the creative director at Dunnes

Carolyn's style is to go for fluorescent, neon, retro and, above all, eclectic.
Carolyn's style is to go for fluorescent, neon, retro and, above all, eclectic.

Stores, approaches her festive styling, right down to the stunning star paper lanterns she sourced in India.

“When I was growing up, every house took down their hall lampshade at Christmas and replaced them with paper stars. They were nearly always orange, but I love finding these decorative stars in bright colours and patterns.”

They are the perfect space-saver for smaller rooms when you can’t fit in a Christmas tree and, she adds, you could hang a load of these at different heights and create a really nice atmosphere.


Colour clash: A garland of clashing pinks and limes across the fireplace typifies this mother-of three's eclectic approach to interiors – hence her choice of the word for her Eclectic homewares range at Dunnes Stores. “I hate the traditional combinations of green and red at Christmas. I’m into brights, especially pink.”



Carolyn's Tree: Carolyn’s strategy is to dress her tree from the bottom up, starting with the lights. Rather than white lights, she likes to string up red chillies or white neoprene roses. Some people like tinsel and glittery baubles, but Carolyn's fashion-designer eye means she reaches instead for texture and a crafty element featuring embroidery, sequins and felt. It’s a mad mixed-up mish mash, but it works well .





Kitchen chic: Carolyn strings up lights on kitchen shelves and on colourful vases. Even the cooker gets in on the festive theme! She has a beautiful collection of unusual vases bought for her by her journalist husband John and they give her the excuse to go out and buys lots of fresh flowers, which she loves.


Dare to be different: Carolyn remembers the Christmas her first baby, Lily, was born. The thought of rooting around in the attic was too much so Carolyn dressed her tree that year with simple white lights and dried hydrangea heads hung upside down from the branches.

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