Home for Christmas

When the sky is grey and the trees are bare, coming home to a sparkling, festive welcome is one sure way to brighten your mood. Corinne Card offers simple tips on creating your own winter wonderland this year

 Whether you’re visiting your family or staying at home for the big day, decorations this year are not just for Christmas. There are plenty of ways to create that deliciously inviting Christmassy atmosphere for the whole winter, so now’s the time to gather your elves and start stocking up.

GO NORDIC

 If you want to get the wintery look right, there’s no better place to look for inspiration than our Nordic counterparts. After all, they have the most experience of turning wintery chill into fun and frolics. Nordic and Scandinavian-style decorations are ideal for creating a classic winter ambience in your home, according to experts. Carole Brown of homeware store Dunelm Mill says: “Nordic style shabby-chic decorations are perfect for recreating a traditional yuletide look in your home.” One element of Scandinavian style which fits so well with Christmas is its focus on storytelling, says ISAK founder Sandra Isaksson: “Christmas is all about stories, and so is Scandinavian design.” She adds that Scandinavian designs can be used effectively on walls to give a festive feel. She says: “This Christmas, a strong feature of festive, Scandinavian design will be framing festive posters, or even traditional patterned wallpaper or fabric.” Even a framed piece of retro wrapping paper can help create the right look, adds Isaksson: “If you don’t have a wall to use as a feature wall, why not frame a piece of festive wallpaper or even Christmas wrapping paper in retro, Scandinavian designs and bold colours?”

BRING THE OUTSIDE IN

 Garden rooms are often neglected during the winter, but can provide an unseasonably bright and airy backdrop to the festivities. All they need is some shiny accessories and a few warm and cosy corners to nestle down into. Jane Hindmarsh of Interiors By Vale says: “Conservatories are magical settings for creating a festive atmosphere. Twinkling lights, candle wall lights and lots of candles scattered around the room reflect on the glazing to create a wonderful scene for celebrations.” When planning your scheme for any room in the house, you can always give the look a lift by using bold colours. “Colours make you happy and if you’re happy, you have more fun,” says Isaksson. However, if you are planning on integrating bold colours into your winter look then Isaksson points out the importance of keeping a minimalist backdrop. “Be sure to keep the rest of your house clean, minimalist and pale, with lots of blonde wood,” she says.

FOCUS ON FOOD

 The kitchen is always a favourite place to gather, and even more so in winter. Cold weather makes people hungry and thirsty, so it’s wise to make sure your kitchen is ready for the seasonal onslaught. Debbie Bowden, designer at Barnes of Ashburton, says: “Christmas is the most sociable time of the year, so make sure your kitchen incorporates lots of areas to sit and socialise. “With a full house at Christmas and people eating breakfast at different times, create a ‘breakfast station’ with discretely housed tea, coffee and toast making facilities. For an informal approach, guests can help themselves to breakfast and, when not in use, appliances such as the kettle and toaster can be secreted away.” If you are considering purchasing a new oven, now is the time to invest in an AGA, says Bowden. “Nothing creates a warm and cosy kitchen like an AGA oven,” she says. “Use its heat to cook Christmas lunch or to make toast for breakfast. But additionally, use its radiated warmth to air washing, dry muddy boots and to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.” If your budget is tight, however, you can still make your kitchen a fabulously festive spot to gather, and customising your Christmas goodies is an excellent place to start. “Scandinavians keep their Christmas sweeties, spices, gingersnaps, Swedish toffee and meatballs in beautiful, festive cups and storage jars, with pretty, Christmas designs, to brighten up the table,” says Isaksson. “These designs often pair the traditional, white background with clean designs, featuring bold colours and sweet, comforting scenes and characters.”