Five Christmas decorating tips from top interior designers and window dressers

Design experts share their secrets for an on-trend festive look.

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A tree isn’t for everyone

Young interior designer Sophie Ashby, who is currently designing a penthouse for architect John Pawson, and a country home for actress Gabriella Wilde, favours “lots of foliage over a tree, especially when you are tight on space.

Ditch the fir: lots of foliage can work better than a tree in smaller homes

Lots of evergreen branches, holly bush cuttings and pine cones all smell wonderful and are beautiful enough on their own. Eucalyptus is a great plant, too. As it dries out, it holds its shape without dropping pine needles all over the floor.” Ashby favours Lizzie Powell of Early Hours floral design company.

Fresh and fragrant: use eucalyptus for swags and wreaths. It does not droop as it dries or drop needles on the floor

Dan Cooper of John Lewis, who masterminds the department store’s décor and merchandising, says rows of mini real trees wrapped in hessian or linen make unusual and attractive decorations on the dining table. Find them at John Lewis and the White Company, £25.


Stand-out wrapping

For wrapping that stands out, Anna Burns, creative director and creator of dramatic Christmas window displays at Hermès, uses decorative magazine pages dressed up with ribbon and trimmings from VV Rouleaux and Liberty. “Wired-edge ribbons are easy to shape,” says Annabel Lewis of VV Rouleaux. Look for textural wrapping paper with a fabric feel.

All wrapped up: wired ombre ribbon, from £2.60 a metre at VV Rouleaux

If you are time-poor but haven’t maxed out your credit cards, get the experts in. Wrapsody has a Christmas wrapping pop-up in Primrose Hill and offers both while-you-wait and drop-and-deliver services. From £3 a gift.



Wreaths are standard for doors, but some doors don’t have anything to hang one from. John Lewis’s Dan Cooper says you need a wreath hook that positions over the top of your door, and the store has one for £2.

Striking display: John Lewis’s Peony Magenta Hydrangea Wreath, £60

Elsewhere in the home, wreaths are often simple to hang from decorative pegs, or you could place one flat on the dining table as a centrepiece. Cooper decorates his with a glass bowl full of baubles or fairy lights.

Source ready-made wreaths from florists such as Simone Gooch, or make your own at John Lewis and Peter Jones in Sloane Square this week, or at Heal’s Kingston store on 17 December. Go hyper-coloured and OTT, or minimal and natural.


A Swedish theme

Anna Burns of Hermès says her Christmas table decorations have a Swedish theme thanks to her Scandinavian mother.

Chirpy: bird baubles, from £3, at Skandium

They include the traditional Julbock — a straw goat decoration — a red advent candle in the shape of a pig that the family lights on the countdown to Christmas, and Burns always makes a Pepparkakshus, or gingerbread house.

Traditional: Scandi Christmas gnomes, £19, at Skandium

Find Scandinavian-themed decorations at Skandium, including the straw Julbock, £30, traditional felt gnomes, below, £19, and Hans Christian Andersen-themed hanging decorations. Find a gingerbread house kit at Selfridges, £14.99, or at Ikea, £2.45.


Steal a little Chanel styling for the tree

Rina Bhansali, head of Home and Christmas Buying at Harrods, suggests colour blocking your tree, perhaps using big, shocking pink glass “balloon” baubles. For a different look, Nutcracker ornaments by MacKenzie-Childs are charming.

Monochrome: black-and-white tree baubles, from £12, at Harrods

Handmade harlequin baubles by London designer Aiga Sattler are from £26.95, while Kayleigh Radcliffe’s hand-illustrated decorations start at £6.95.

Tree ornaments start from £4.95 at the Knightsbridge store, and Harrods will choose them for you, among its many Christmas services. On a Chanel theme, there’s a smart selection of black-and-white baubles this year.

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