Annie Sloan

Creating a festive home

Creating a festive home

Ann Jackman on giving your home a sense of seasonal warmth and luxury

The coming festive season will be very different for many of us, and, more than ever, we want our interiors to be our sanctuaries. Read on for some simple but effective ideas on how to make your home into a retreat for Christmas and beyond…


The Scandinavians create magical rooms at Christmas time. The key is to keep things simple and natural. Light and pastel colours in greys, pinks and blues are used for decorating walls, floorboards and ceilings. Furniture is simple – light oak and beech are woods that are commonly used in Scandi interiors, as are painted items of furniture such as cabinets and chests of drawers. The Scandinavians love to mix old and new so selected antique furniture and family heirlooms add to the look – as long as these are used sparingly and don’t detract from the overall feeling of light and space.

The Scandinavian table at Christmas uses beautiful glassware, candles, pine cones sprayed in white, silver and gold, and wreaths and garlands in natural spruce. Antique glassware and plain white tableware, pure linen napkins and natural rattan placemats will add to this simple but luxurious Christmas tableau.


Whilst decorating in themes risks becoming a cliché if overdone, many of us who have enjoyed skiing holidays have stayed in chalets where we love the cosiness and enveloping warmth of wood lined walls, rustic kitchens and furniture.

This theme can be introduced into your rooms in a gentle way. If you have an open living area which includes seating, dining and cooking space, you can transform your dining area with the use of sheep or goatskins on the backs of dining chairs or thrown over long benches. Decorate the space using natural materials such as pine cones, branches and greenery from the garden and driftwood. Cover sofas with throws and fur cushions. Introduce a sheepskin covered pouffe, chair or floor cushion and rustic accessories. Basketware can add to this particular style as can pine scented candles or diffusers. Serving mulled wine after long walks will add to the apres-ski atmosphere.

A touch of check and deep brown leathers can also give you a warm, luxurious chalet-style vibe. A few stag motifs in your accessories can add a playful touch.


Layering is a term that many interior designers use to illustrate how a room can be transformed into a luxurious and relaxing place. Layering creates a feeling of opulence and produces interiors that look as if they have developed over the years.

Abigail Aherne, one of our leading interior designers, describes a layered interior as “curated maximalism” – lots of objects, books and treasures displayed in a way that does not look messy and which is the opposite of minimalism. Here are some techniques that will help you to create a sumptuous, layered look…

– Use books and treasured objects to place on shelves and coffee tables – arranging these on a tray can make the arrangement look more curated and less random.

– Mix patterns – keep to two or three colours that run through all of the patterned items and they will look good together. It’s okay to mix small and larger scale patterns

– Layer lighting – use more than one light source in the room at any one time, for example overhead downlights on dimmers with table and floor lamps and candles in dark corners.

– Introduce plants as a way of injecting life and colour into the room.


Have a look around your living space for an area which is unused or “dead” space. Hallways, landings, window recesses and other alcoves can potentially be used.  Think how you might introduce a comfortable chair, some textured cushions and throws, a rug, a small side table for your drink, accent lighting and a beautiful candle that smells divine. Curl up with a book and enjoy.

Ann Jackman is an interior design expert at