Interiors: Decking the halls the sustainable way
Home is always at the heart of our Christmas celebrations - more so this year than ever. Artfully combining preloved, hand-crafted and natural pieces, Sophie Harvey of vintage homeware brand Stone and Sage in Long Melford shows us how to decorate our rooms the sustainable way
A Warm Welcome
Nothing says ‘welcome’ like a festive door wreath. Our wreath is always the first thing we put up at the beginning of December and it stays up until January time.
Over the last decade, we have supported local independent florists in Suffolk who make wreaths, priced from £20 to £40 depending on size and budget. If you purchase a fresh wreath that is full of evergreens, dried florals and feathers, they will last forever and become a sustainable accessory for the home throughout the whole year – I have a lovely collection in my studio.
We’ve also made our own wreaths, which the children love to do. You can purchase a wooden ring for dried foliage, or a wire ring, to cover with damp moss, for fresh foliage - think foraged holly, berries, feathers, pinecones. My top tip is always to add a big billowing bow; I keep a stash from old presents with Christmas decorating in mind.
Time for Tradition
Creating atmospheric scheming in your living room is really about the simple things: a festive candle, a log fire, foraged foliage, twinkly fairy lights. . . I have seen some exquisite festive décor on social media, but it is key for your scheme to reflect what you as a family love and cherish during the festivities.
Our colour scheme has always been very traditional: red, gold and rustic. We collect many natural materials and forage for greenery for the fireplace and table dressing – it looks aesthetically rustic and charming.
I think it is important to reuse and upcycle old decorations. There is something incredibly heartfelt and nostalgic about collecting decorations over the years and adding them to the tree. We have a set of very old vintage wooden decorations that once belonged to my husband’s grandparents. Every year we buy only one new decoration that our children select and add to the tree; we often chat over the day when we went and purchased it.
I think it is important to keep tradition during the festive period with your children so that you can pass down to the next generation. Christmas is about tradition and ultimately creating that hygge feeling.
Sense of Occasion
For me the festivities around the table are the most important aspect of Christmas Day: sharing a special meal with the people I love makes me feel both grateful and humble. This year, more than ever, that moment will have real significance.
How to create the ultimate table scheme really depends on what you want to achieve. We were incredibly blessed to have been given my Nana’s china set which I adore and only comes out at Christmas - but you too can create something like this! The charity shops have some amazing vintage sets which could become your special-occasion china - not every piece has to match, either, as Harlequin sets look great.
We usually add name tags for each person. Last year we ordered some air-drying clay and used Christmas cookie cutters to cut out various shapes, imprinted initials in them and tied them with a sprig of evergreen collected on our walk on Christmas Eve. Previously we have hand-stamped names on brown gift tags, finishing them with some pheasant feathers.
We always have fresh greenery on the table - usually eucalyptus dotted with sweet dried oranges and a scattering of cinnamon sticks. I just don’t think you can beat that combination: it just smells of Christmas! Keeping our décor traditional, I usually add red velvet or twine to the table pieces.
We have a selection of glassware that has been sourced from charity shops and car boots or handed down from past generations. Toasting the lunch and Christmas is important: we even lay the children a little wine glass with some squash in. One last very necessary thing is a large candle to glow while you tuck into your lunch.
The Personal Touch
I try my absolute hardest to try to make gifts for family and friends and one of my favourite things to do is to make my own wrapping paper. Buy recycled brown packaging paper, source a sweet hand stamp and some ink, and stamp to your heart’s content – not only does it feel great making it, but I genuinely think people appreciate the time and consideration it has taken to create bespoke gifting and presentation. Plus you’re taking a sustainable approach.
If it is a special gift for a loved one or friend, you could add a little feather, rosemary or lavender sprig, or, depending on your budget, you could wax stamp your gifts. You can source wax-stamping kits from £15 to £30 on eBay, and then you have it for gifting throughout the year and the following Christmas.
A Final Flourish
Stone and Sage is known for sourcing preloved, vintage and sustainable homewares, so we have a large array of gorgeous pieces to dress and accessorise spaces in the home - but here are a few top tips for you to try during the festive period:
- We love old music sheets: they look fantastic turned into cut-out garlands hanging above the windows or doors.
- A few retro/kitsch Christmas decorations hanging from a branch on the wall, with other little cool festive curiosities, is simple to do but really effective.
- Dressing up old tea or coffee pots by filling them with festive stems and standing them on a vintage doily, adds character, pops of colour and texture to the house.
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