Festive glamour - how to match Christmas décor to your home
If you've gone to the dark side with your interiors, make sure to match your Christmas décor
Christmas is a juggernaut event. It's absolutely unstoppable and you can hear it coming a mile away. Then it leaves you steamrolled, broke, and wondering - how much of that did I really want? I do love Christmas, but that's probably because I only engage with the aspects of it that I actually like. And I'm blessed with a family that doesn't get wound-up about the festivities. If someone decides to do something a little differently, nobody makes a fuss.
There's no reason, for example, that you have to buy into the traditional green and red colour scheme. For some people - and I'm probably one of these - green and red is the essence of all things Christmassy. But it's not for everyone. Imagine, for example, you've just had the walls painted a deep peacock blue and invested in a pink velvet sofa. It's a glamorous look for winter, but chuck a lot of green-and-red decorations into the mix and you'll be in trouble.
Really bad Christmas décor - and there's a lot of it about - happens when people impose a festive look on an existing room without thinking about what's already there. It's one thing to respect Christmas tradition, but letting it become a bully is quite another. "You're not going to design your house around how you plan to decorate at Christmas," says Lauren Harris, designer with DFS. "The Christmas decorations should suit the room they're going in to."
For this Christmas, she's helped to prepare two looks for DFS. One is glamorous and quite ornate. The room has high ceilings, deep skirting boards, and is centred on a marble fireplace inset with a solid fuel stove. The walls are deep inky blue. If you wanted to recreate the look, Crown Paints' Oxford Blue or Midnight Navy would create a similar effect on the walls.
The main pieces of furniture are a DFS Gower velvet sofa (€1,299) and footstool (€569) in aubergine crushed velvet. There's a tall oversized floor lamp - quite like the gold angled floor lamp (€210) from the French Bedroom Company - and a gilded picture frame on the mantelpiece to pick up the metallic accent.
On top of this, a Christmas tree in traditional green and red livery would give you indigestion even before you started on the turkey. "All the drama is already in the room," Harris points out. "It's full of pops of colour. If you had a lot of colour on the tree it would be too much!" Sensibly, the big natural Christmas tree has been left almost naked. Apart from warm white fairy lights, there's nothing on it at all. There are a few (pink and purple) baubles, but they're left lying casually around the room. Instead of holly, the mantelpiece is decked with ivy and hydrangeas, which echo the colour of the sofa.
If you feel stuck in a rut with traditional Christmas decorations, it's worth taking a look at what's happening in Australia, where Christmas comes at the start of the summer holidays.
My favourite, though it's not just for Christmas, is the Sphere clay beaded chandelier (€412) from the Melbourne-based Jacqui Moore.
The pendants look just like blue bobbly liquorice allsorts and you can buy them from Atelier Lane. Combine them with fresh flowers and lots of foliage. "The idea of bringing the outside in was big at the Milan Furniture Fair this year," says Harris. "I think it will be a major theme this Christmas." The good thing about foliage is that it goes with everything.
Harris isn't planning an ornate Christmas in her own minimal apartment. She's more likely to go for something akin to DFS's second look, built around the trend known as "modern Scandi" and vaguely inspired by Nordic design.
To Irish eyes, a Scandi Christmas can seem rather scanty, but it does look well in understated contemporary spaces.
DFS has centred the look around the Marl sofa in stone (€2,299) with bare floor boards and wintry walls. In terms of paint colour, True Fiction and French Mists from the Dulux Moda collection would work with this look.
To save the room from chilliness (an occupational hazard with the Scandi look), there's a white wool floor rug and faux fur throws. You can get the latter in lots of places, but I like the quality of the Paul Costello Living range at Dunnes (from €85). They'd combine well with the slightly epic Fight Me Antler candelabra (€634) from the French Bedroom Company. It's made from the real antlers of red deer or fallow deer (but not reindeer - phew, Rudolph!).
The candelabra is an all-year round piece that dresses-up well for Christmas, but you have to watch the number of animal-pelt inspired items in a room. Too much in the way of fur and antlers and it'll look like a set from Game of Thrones.
The Scandi look goes light on decorations. In the DFS room, the main seasonal statement is a bare branch, suspended on a wall and wrapped in fairy lights, with three large grey origami paper stars. You can make those yourself, if you have the patience. The Japanese art of paper folding is meant to be the new mindfulness; see YouTube for full instructions.
Candles are a big part of the Scandi thing and there's nothing more Nordic than displaying them than in cylindrical glass jars, preferably mouth-blown. You can buy these in a range of colours and sizes (from €12) from Nordic Elements.
There's also a nice range of other Scandinavian-style Christmas decorations at the Nordic Elements Christmas pop-up in the basement of 54 Booterstown Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin. It runs on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until December 17.
See nordicelements.com, atelierlane.com, frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk, and dfs.ie
Candle in the wind
The new Ilum scented candles from the Wicklow-based candle makers Max Benjamin come in classy and reusable containers - the geometric patterns on the porcelain vases are influenced by Belgium design. They start at €95 from maxbenjamin.ie.
James the Bookend was designed as a doorstep - now he's come up in the world. The stainless steel plate attached to his foot means that any number of books can be leant against his outstretched arm. He costs €18 from designmyworld.net.
The Noah's Ark baby blanket (€130) from the Irish company Loominations is just one in series of snugly but meaningful tapestry throws. There's a lovely one themed on the Wild Atlantic Way and another on the Easter Rising. See loominations.ie.
There's no more practical piece of kitchen equipment than a nest of mixing bowls and these ones are so pretty you're not going to want to put them in the cupboard. They're made of ceramic and cost €53 from sistersguild.co.uk.