Tuesday 16 October 2018

Tinsel-free Christmas

Three creative women, three very different styles - and not a strand of tinsel between them. Nathalie Marquez Courtney discovers how to do festive décor without going OTT. Photographs by Nathalie Marquez Courtney.

Chupi Sweetman goes for feminine pink as well as gold in planning her Christmas decorations — set against shades of grey. As a jewellery designer, she adds her own sparkle
Chupi Sweetman goes for feminine pink as well as gold in planning her Christmas decorations — set against shades of grey. As a jewellery designer, she adds her own sparkle
Chupi Sweetman goes for feminine pink as well as gold in planning her Christmas decorations — set against shades of grey. As a jewellery designer, she adds her own sparkle
Wendy’s house bears all the cosy festive ambience of Christmas without any of the commercial tinsel. The dark tones of the interior come into their own in winter, says the lifestyle store owner. Natural elements such as garden holly and berries help to provide a softer hue. The overall effect combines simplicity with elegance
Wendy’s house bears all the cosy festive ambience of Christmas without any of the commercial tinsel. The dark tones of the interior come into their own in winter, says the lifestyle store owner. Natural elements such as garden holly and berries help to provide a softer hue. The overall effect combines simplicity with elegance
Wendy’s house bears all the cosy festive ambience of Christmas without any of the commercial tinsel. The dark tones of the interior come into their own in winter, says the lifestyle store owner. Natural elements such as garden holly and berries help to provide a softer hue. The overall effect combines simplicity with elegance
The three T’s, tidiness, tone and texture, are central to Clean Slate boss Nicole Connolly’s Christmas feelgood factor. “I try to keep things neat by sticking to a couple of colours,” she says
The three T’s, tidiness, tone and texture, are central to Clean Slate boss Nicole Connolly’s Christmas feelgood factor. “I try to keep things neat by sticking to a couple of colours,” she says
The three T’s, tidiness, tone and texture, are central to Clean Slate boss Nicole Connolly’s Christmas feelgood factor. “I try to keep things neat by sticking to a couple of colours,” she says
The three T’s, tidiness, tone and texture, are central to Clean Slate boss Nicole Connolly’s Christmas feelgood factor. “I try to keep things neat by sticking to a couple of colours,” she says

Nathalie Marquez Courtney

If you're searching for a fresh theme for your Christmas décor, look no further. Whether you want to tap into your inner kid with vintage toys and festive stockings, play with dramatic colour combos or keep things Nordic noir, there are plenty of alternatives to the traditional red, gold and green baubles and bling.

We meet three stylish homeowners who aren't afraid to ditch the tinsel for something different.

Pretty in pink

A self-confessed magpie, jewellery designer Chupi Sweetman leans in to the sparkle of the season in a big way. "My love of gold means I'm always drawn to gold decorations," she says, adding, "Even our non-Christmas style is pretty gold and sparkly."

As her 65,000 thousand Instagram followers can attest, Chupi is also a huge fan of pink, and her fondness for the feminine hue is scattered throughout both her Instagram feed and her city pad, through cushions, candles and artwork, as well as her Christmas decor. Her tip for striking the right balance? "A friend who is an interior architect gave me a wonderful tip once, which is to paint everything grey," she says. "It means we can bring in hints of the colours we love without it being overpowering."

"I really wanted to add a sparkle of pink to our tree this year but I couldn't find any decorations I liked so I made my own, using some drops from fuchsia chalcedony gemstones and I adore them," she says.

Chupi and her husband Brian have a tradition of buying each other a Christmas decoration every year and writing the date on the back. "We've been together 17 years so we have this great archive in lots of different colours and from different countries; it's a little collection of the story of our lives together."

But for Chupi, whose delicate pieces are known for their decadent wrapping, the presents under the tree are as much decor as the ornaments on it. "For me, it's all about the ribbon, never mind the paper," she laughs. "It adds such a feeling of luxury and decadence, but costs so little. I buy my favourite gold sparkly 35mm ribbon online in big 50m rolls so I'm always ready."

chupi.com @chupi

Vintage style

"I'M definitely a vintage, old school girl at heart," laughs Wendy Crawford. Her family once owned an antique shop on Nassau Street and now she owns and runs Scout, a lifestyle store in Dublin's Temple Bar that boasts a tightly curated edit of hip Irish and international labels. It's the perfect place to go to for stylish classics, such as a timeless Breton top or a pair of beautifully crafted leather brogues - so it's no surprise that her own home has a similarly ageless feel.

The three-bed Victorian redbrick in Kilmainham is decorated with an eclectic collection of accessories and vintage pieces, and painted in dark hues that come into their own in winter. "I find the dark tones of my house lend themselves to Christmas really well," says Wendy.

"The dark walls create a cosy and festive atmosphere and everything sits beside the darkness easily without jarring."

Wendy's Christmas decorating style is simple yet elegant, with lots of natural foliage and a smattering of toys as decorations. "Since having Henry, my son, I try to remember that it's his house too so I like to add in soft toys or playful decorations that he'll enjoy and remember in years to come," she says.

If you're playing with a moodier palette this winter, Wendy recommends bringing in natural elements to contrast against dark hues. "Foliage and berries work great," she says. "Utilise the garden at this time of year. Growing up, my mum had a fantastic garden full of holly and foliage that was always used in arrangements and in decorating the house - less plastic stuff that's bad for the environment and more beautiful, natural things!" scoutdublin.com @scoutessexstreetwest

Modern minimalism

NICOLE Connolly, founder of Clean Slate, whose beautiful scented candles are on many a wish-list, creates a Christmas space that blends laidback elegance with cool, monochromatic touches. "For me, it's more about decorating for winter than specifically for Christmas, making home a place you want to hibernate in, bringing in a little nature and comfort in stages," she says. "By keeping the tones of any Christmas additions harmonious it feels like it's still me, an extension of my style, just more Christmassy."

The key to a space that's both minimalist and welcoming comes down to what Nicole calls 'the three Ts' - tidiness, tone and texture. "I try to keep things uncluttered and neat by sticking to a couple of colours or tones throughout the house," she explains. "Layering textiles like linen, velvet and faux fur brings in the warmth while mixing different textures such as wicker, leather and wood adds dimension and personality."

Home-made eucalyptus wreaths and pine cones add a natural touch, and sit well alongside sweet and simple decorations. "We make our decorations using clay and cookie cutters," says Nicole. "Once dry, you can paint them and add buttons, pearls or whatever takes your fancy. It's a great way of getting older children involved in the Christmas spirit and it means you get decorations that you are not tempted to hang at the back of the tree." cleanslate.ie @nicole_clean.slate

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