Art Interiors Lifestyle
Decorating Your Home for the Festive Season, with Luke Edward Hall
By Luke Edward Hall
Jul 13, 2022
The artist and interior design guru reveals what he's got planned for his own festive décor.
This Christmas will be the first Christmas we’re at home, not up in Edinburgh and the Highlands with my partner Duncan’s family, or down in Hampshire with mine. As is the situation with most people, plans are still very much up in the air. We are not sure whether we will be able to host family, but either way (and although we will miss the magic of winter in Scotland), it will be wonderful to spend the full festive season at the Cotswolds cottage we began renting in the summer of 2019.
Last year we threw a Christmas party at home in early December for new and old friends. Although proper parties will more than likely be off schedule this winter, we’ll decorate in the same manner: with abandon. We’ll fill the house with greenery (holly, ivy, eucalyptus and rosemary from the garden) and antique bowls of clove-studded oranges. I want the house to be filled with naturally festive fragrance (no sickly scented candles); I love the sharp, fresh pine forest scent of foliage mixed with the warm, heady aroma of winter spices.
I’ve been collecting giant Victorian witch balls over the past couple of years, we will suspend these with colourful ribbons over the table in our dining room. These are enormous baubles, essentially, and were originally used as fishing floats. (Although they were also hung in cottage windows in the 17th and 18th centuries to ward off evil spirits and witches). Genuine antique witch balls have a beautiful, mottled patina that reflects candlelight beautifully. Speaking of candles, I bulk buy colourful dinner candles from Pentreath & Hall in Bloomsbury. Top tip: buy about three times as many as you think you’ll need, although you’ll still run out. My Christmas playlist, meanwhile, is a heady mix of English Medieval and Renaissance tunes, the odd Celtic ditty and a few 1980s pop bangers.
We will buy the biggest tree we can fit in our little cottage from a barn a few fields over from us, and hang it with decorations collected over the years. Our favourites are the beautiful mid-century Murano glass baubles we picked up at a market in Venice a few years ago and the glittery vegetables we buy from Astier de Villatte in Paris and John Derian in New York. I like the contrast between traditional, sober decorations (like the bowls of oranges) and a good dose of Christmas kitsch: our newest bauble addition is a giant stick of glittery butter. I’ll add bows made from tartan ribbon (a nod to our love of the Highlands), and a few sparkling strings of vintage tinsel, which I source from eBay. Duncan is not too keen on tinsel, but I can’t resist a 1980s throwback. This year I think I’ll throw on some ginger biscuits, too. I bake these every year but usually they don’t hang around long enough to make it to the tree.
We love gussying up the house, for ourselves as much as for guests, and it’s never a more pleasurable task than at Christmastime. This year, which I think we can all agree has been more than onerous, is the year we need to embrace everything Christmas stands for more than ever: home, tradition, and that particularly special and otherworldly sense of festive theatre and fantasy.