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How to decorate your home for Christmas like a pro

Think classy not cluttered for a chic statement with your festive décor this winter, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

Yes – Christmas can be understated and chic (Alamy/PA)

Christmas comes but once a year… so no wonder many of us want to make the most of the opportunity to create a magical winter wonderland at home.

But, what if you want to keep things on the sophisticated side? After all, it’s easy to get carried away at this time of year, with so many fantastical decorations to fire the imagination.

“When it comes to festive décor, it’s all too tempting to deck the halls with every bauble, accessory, wreath and fairy-light under the sun,” says Sam Greig, senior designer at Swoon. “Creating an intense display that would stop even Rudolph in his tracks.”

So perhaps it’s time to put the endless boxes of decorations back into the loft, and consider a ‘less is more approach’. As Greig adds: “Think clean, not cluttered.”

He shares the following expert tips for dressing your home for Christmas…

A well-balanced tree

Don’t feel the pressure to over embellish your Christmas tree (Alamy/PA)

The tree is usually the most essential and iconic piece of décor to consider when December hits.

“But how can you create a dazzling display without overdoing it? When it comes to decorating a tree, I love to take a Scandi-style approach and let nature do the talking,” says Greig.

“Pine trees are already naturally beautiful and contrary to popular belief, don’t actually need excessive decoration to ooze festive charm.”

Paper tree decorations are trending big time (Alamy/PA)

Greig says he loves to select baubles in natural materials such as wood, wicker, and paper, and enhance them with a beautiful string of warm-toned twinkly lights.

“To create a gorgeous eye-catching display, place larger baubles towards the base of the tree, and smaller accessories towards the tip. This will draw the eye upwards, ensuring your tree-topper is the star of the show.”

Brilliant baubles

Place glitzy baubles with brass fixtures for some extra pizzazz (Wayfair/PA)

“Believe it or not, baubles don’t just belong on the tree,” says Greig. To create a put-together look that flows through your entire abode, he suggests carrying your baubles over into other pieces of décor.

“Going OTT with ornaments can sometimes create a cluttered feel. To curate a look that’s synonymous throughout the home, I like to use the same style baubles within different pieces of decoration – not just the tree,” he says.

Add clusters of baubles onto your mantlepiece or stair-rail garlands, within your front-door wreath, and in your dining table centrepiece, Greig suggests.

“Using a simple theme effortlessly carries the festivity from room to room, without overwhelming spaces with clashing ornaments and dishevelled décor.”

Make the most of a mantlepiece

There is nothing more festive than a roaring fire and a beautifully decorated mantlepiece to match, suggests Grieg. Although, a mantlepiece can still be styled up even if you don’t have a real fire, of course (which is probably more realistic these days!).

“But, piles of random ornaments and disorganised décor can create a cluttered feel,” Greig warns. “Curating a well-styled mantlepiece is a sophisticated craft and requires a dedicated eye for detail.”

A stylish Christmas stocking looks fabulous on a fireplace (B&M Stores/PA)

To keep things simple and stylish, he likes to use a spruce garland to adorn the top of the mantlepiece, and dress it with chic natural style baubles – carrying the theme of your tree through to the fireplace.

“Add in a few berry sprigs for a pop of colour, and don’t forget some low-key lighting to bring it all together – au naturel.

“Remember, a mantlepiece is very similar to a windowsill,” adds Greig. “So if you’re looking to go all out without causing clutter, try mirroring your mantlepiece design onto your windowsills.”

Light the halls

A showstopping staircase garland is a win-win in the style stakes (Lights4Fun/PA)

It truly isn’t Christmas until you begin to see twinkling lights draping every structure in sight.

“But cartoon style lighting and over-themed illuminations can draw away from your magically minimalist décor,” Greig notes. And while “lighting is the ultimate addition to your festive décor”, he says it’s all too easy to overwhelm your display.

Glamorous gold string lighting hits just the right note (Sparkle Lighting/PA)

For a chic, timeless spectacle, Greig recommends keeping it cosy and simple with warm-toned lighting in minimalistic shapes and styles – avoid using unnatural colours and shapes.

“Use strings of twinkly fairy-lights to adorn your tree, garlands, and wreaths, creating a magically festive feature without overwhelming the senses.

Create a warm and festive ambience with LED pillar candles (Lights4Fun/PA)

“But, the lighting shouldn’t stop with just string lights. Ensure your interior includes layers of lighting to enhance your designs,” Greig suggests. “Including wall lighting, floor lamps, and table lights with similar toned bulbs.”


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