Needless to say, when it comes to Christmas decorations, Sophie Paterson knows a thing or two about breaking the mould and making them stylish. So, to mark the final day of her ‘Week with SheerLuxe’, we grilled the designer on her Christmas decorating rules – from table dressing and trees, to her honest thoughts on tinsel…
Firstly, should you pick a theme?
Yes, I like to pick a loose theme and try to coordinate with the décor as much as I can. I have four trees in my house this year; in my kitchen I’ve gone with a purple, gold and orange scheme with a country rustic meets glam vibe; in my TV room it’s white, silver, grey and wood with a Scandi vibe; in the study it’s very traditional British with a red and gold palette; and in the formal sitting room it’s gold, white, silver and sparkly with a very glamorous theme.
Any tips for styling your top themes?
Rustic Scandi: Think wooden baubles, little houses, stars and owls.
Rustic country: Lots of tweed, dried oranges and limes, birds and pinecone decorations.
Traditional British: I have decorations featuring Big Ben, Beefeaters, Scottish pipers and the Scottish flag (as my husband is Scottish), with a thick red ribbon that cascades down the tree, and lots of gold and red baubles so it looks rich and opulent.
Are there rules to stick to?
I like to limit the palette to a maximum of two colours and one or two metals – I think you can mix gold and silver on a tree, even if you go for a rustic look, as you need the shiny and sparkly decorations to make the tree twinkle when the lights are on – otherwise it’ll look bare (the shinier and sparkler the better, in my view!).
How do you incorporate a Christmas theme into your home style?
Use similar colours to those already used in your rooms, or make it tie in with the person who uses that room as I have with the tree in my husband’s study, or in my kitchen with dried orange slices and baubles that look like apples.
Where’s best for affordable decorations?
I buy a lot online, this year all my new ones are from John Lewis which has a really great and wide selection. I like to get some special showstopper decorations each year to build up my collection, but I also buy multipacks of plain silver or gold baubles as space fillers – you need so many decorations to make a tree look luxurious.
Any current trends worth looking at?
I don’t know if any of the things I like are on trend, I always pick my decor intuitively. And as with everything in interiors, I like to pick things I think will last and not date too quickly.
What about colour – what works well together?
This year I’m loving the purple, orange and gold theme I have in my kitchen. Red and gold is always a winner for a more traditional look.
Tips for dressing the front door?
You have to have a wreath – the bigger the better – and try to go for a fresh one each year. I always get mine from Wild Wood London; they run wreath-making classes every December which are so fun.
What about an entry hall?
This year I just have lots of candles, but foliage on a staircase looks lovely.
Tips for using foliage: real or fake?
Real foliage, but fake trees for me as I’m too much of a perfectionist and would insist on going to three vendors to find a tree with the perfect shape and size. Plus, I put mine up early each year (around the end of November) and we have our house warm, so a real tree would be a sad twig by the time Christmas Day came around! Sadly, I’ve never found a good fake tree that didn’t cost the earth.
Your top tip for nailing the Christmas tree?
Go big or go home. Get one as tall as your ceiling height can take, and as full as possible.
What do you put at the top of the tree?
Nothing, I think it looks naff.
Thoughts on tinsel?
If you want to have tinsel on your tree, I give up.
Any tips for dressing the Christmas table?
I like to use lots of berries and real foliage, and keep any arrangements low so they don’t impede conversation. I’ll also have piles of candles on the table for a romantic and festive ambiance.
What about place settings?
I like to do name tags and charger dishes with different colours depending on the time of year – try gold or a colour to match your tree. Zara do some great statement plates every now and then, and if you go to antique markets you can get some great finds as no one at the moment seems to appreciate antique crockery and cutlery. I collect blue and white antique crockery, it can be so beautiful.
How can you make a fireplace or mantelpiece look festive?
Lots of real foliage (make sure you protect the stone first) and I use faux candles so I can have them on all the time.
What’s an absolute no-no when it comes to Christmas décor?
Any other rules when it comes to fairy lights?
I like them white and tend to buy pre-lit trees as they're so much more well balanced. I haven’t found them yet, but I’d love dimmable fairy lights for my tree as it can look a bit bright in the evening when the room is only lit by candlelight.
How do you scent your home at Christmas? Any favourite candles you can recommend?
Anything by Jo Malone smells divine, I like to change them up so you don’t get immune. Something with orange or cinnamon is always lovely at this time of year.
Tips for decorating the home at Christmas if you’re time-poor?
It’s not something you can do in 15 minutes if you want to do it properly. I don’t know why you’d want to rush it! I do mine after I’ve put Ava to bed with a glass of Champagne whilst listening to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album – it really gets me in the festive mood.
What are your tip tips for present wrapping?
Get them to do it in the shop – life is too short.
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