When I was younger, tree day was always the MOST exciting of days in our household. In Scotland you are legally allowed to cut trees from certain parts of the countryside provided you just take the top to allow for re-growth, and so we’d all bundle in the car and drive to the woods, my Dad armed with the chainsaw and my Brother and I eagerly eyeing up the best fir (it had to be a family affair as once my Dad was tasked with picking the tree himself and came home with the saddest of all trees – all lopsided and lacking in any real branches – and couldn’t quite understand our dismay lol).
Real trees are definitely my favourite (sorry any artificial lovers but they’ve never quite cut it for me) and so even once my Brother and I had both moved out of home and set up on our own, I’d always still INSIST on my Mum and Dad following through with tradition ahead of us coming home for the holidays.
The first time GB and I got our own tree was around 5 years ago, for our first Christmas in our little London flat and our first year living together. It was a mini one and we weren’t actually spending Christmas in the flat, but still, it felt special and we adored it. Since then though, we’ve let the tradition slide. We found that we were never actually in London for the festive period, always travelling to my family or his (with the promise of a tree waiting for us) or off on honeymoon and pretending Christmas wasn’t happening, so decorating a flat we weren’t going to be in felt a little silly.
But honestly, I’ve missed it. Decorating for Christmas, and all the other festivities that come with it (baking mince pies, drinking mulled wine, watching the Christmas films) is one of my favourite creative endeavours. This year, with us spending Christmas in our lovely new home, and bump with us too, we actually couldn’t wait to crack out the decorations and deck the halls (so to speak).
We’ve been in our new house a couple of months now, and while it very much feels like home and we’re really happy here, in terms of decoration and organisation the place is definitely still ‘a work in progress’. We’re renting so obviously there’s a limit to what we can and can’t do with the space, but one of the things we liked about the house when we viewed it was that everything was a fairly neutral blank canvas (good quality and nicely done just lacking in personality) which meant that we could easily put our own stamp on things (something we struggled to do in the flat and which really got me down in the end). I do truly think it’s so important to make a house a home, whether it’s legally yours or not, and I don’t really agree with those who say you’re throwing money away by decorating a rented abode. No matter whether you own it or not, your house is the place you spend so much of your time and retreat to after a hard days work – it needs to be somewhere you feel content and happy in. We plan to stay here for a good while, and we’ll be bringing our baby home here, so the more we can do to make it feel like our home the better.
While the upstairs is currently a sea of re-wallpapering and painting (more on that soon), our living room really has become our haven in the house. It’s the cosiest of all the rooms, has large bay windows letting in lots of light during the day and for now is the room which is closest to feeling ‘finished’ (if a room ever really is). We spend the majority of our time in there and at the moment it’s functioning as everything from my office, to a photography space to where we eat dinner to where we relax.
Even though it’s still in progress, I thought it was about time I shared a peek into how we’ve styled it and with a few festive updates making it feel all the more complete (can we keep them up all year round??) I thought December was a good time to do so.
The Living Room Styling
Despite having LOTS of ideas about how I might style our living room (and multiple Pinterest boards to boot), in the end the room very much evolved on its own and the look was determined by the features already in place. I adore those minimal skandi style living rooms, and I love bright colours too but with it’s original fireplace, wooden doors and bay window, it really was crying out to be kept cosy and rustic in style. We sold our old sofa and sofabed that we’d used in our flat as size wise we knew they just wouldn’t fit in this room and instead brought our two Next grey Carter chairs with us (which previously sat alongside my desk in the flat). GB’s Mum kindly gave us the leather sofa which they no longer needed, and even though I was worried grey and brown wouldn’t work together, it fitted perfectly with the style of the room (and is hellava comfy). Our monochrome rug is also Next and is a temporary fixture in here until we get our wedding rug cleaned up.
In terms of painting and decor we actually have done very little. The walls had been wallpapered and painted ahead of us moving in and even though magnolia paint is my worst nightmare, with it being so fresh and clean it wasn’t the most pressing of painting jobs to be done and so for now we’re living with it. My plan long term is to paint the fireplace surround a really bold colour and then perhaps re-do the rest of the walls in a white or grey to keep them fresh, but that will be a job for further down the line. The only thing we did do was re-paint all of the woodwork in the room. The fireplace, shelves and picture rails were an ugly magnolia gloss which was a little worse for wear (coffee rings and stains all over the shelves) so My Mum tackled this with a Matt white satinwood paint the first week we were in, and it immediately made the whole room brighter and cleaner looking. It also meant that one of my first unpacking jobs could be styling our bookshelves by colour and honestly, this is still probably my favourite corner of the whole house.
Our colour scheme evolved as we began to pick a few of the accessories for the room. I knew already that we were going down the rustic and industrial route, having already unpacked many of our wedding props (all wood and copper) but the addition of this gorgeous tartan footstool* from The Great British Ottoman Company was what really solidified the navy, rich red and rustic orange colours. The company is a new endeavour by the folks behind Art of the Loom (who I met during our DFS trip and have well and truly fallen for their gorgeous throws and fabrics) and I simply couldn’t resist the rustic Scottish charm of this little footstool. The dark wood feet and tartan top fit perfectly with the period features of the room, and being seven months pregnant putting your feet up is a requirement right?
Our cushions are a mix of H&M, DFS, Homebase and Next and our burnt metal industrial floor lamp* is by LiteCraft – a great shout for finding affordable lighting that’s still on trend. The little wooden side table with hairpin legs* is by Cox and Cox (another favourite of mine). I’d originally planned to try my hand at making one like this but upon seeing this, which was exactly what we wanted, I decided to save myself the trouble. It’s really good quality and works wonderfully nestled in between our his and hers chairs and with a lamp on top. This section of the room is named the reading area, and I love coming in first thing on a weekend morning with a cuppa and a good book.
It’s a small room so we’re almost at our limit with what we can fit in, but we’re still on the hunt for a rustic coffee table for the middle (I’d love one of those old trunks but they’re so sought after at the moment) and we’ve still to tackle the walls and hang some prints and pictures (if we can agree on which to put up!). The shape of the window makes it tricky to hang curtains, but the current dark brown blinds which were here when we arrived aren’t really our taste so in the new year we’ll be looking into alternatives which fit our style better. And once the Christmas tree has been taken down (sob) we’ll have space to dress up the window area – I’m thinking a window seat could be lovely here (and maybe disguise the radiator a little – I always find radiators so ugly).
The Festive Updates
Last weekend was coined tree day, and I found myself pretty much as excited as I was as a youngster. GB’s parents came to visit and were enlisted in driving us to the local tree nursery and helping us choose the perfect fir. We chose a short and round fella with a gleaming set of healthy green branches, had him netted up (stopping to buy a festive holly wreath on the way out) and managed to fit him in the boot of the car no problem (whew!). On the Sunday, GB and I spent the afternoon decorating (with me getting annoyed because he wanted to watch The Wire in the background as opposed to a Christmas movie – I mean c’mon how unfestive can you get?), made some (non alcoholic) mulled wine for the occasion and I even tried my hand at drying some orange slices for my planned mantelpiece decoration (some more successful than others). It was the loveliest weekend (weekends which involve indulging my inner creative are THE BEST) and I was so chuffed with our endeavours that I spent all day Monday photographing the space (hence the picture heavy post) and declaring how much I loved our living room.
It started with the tree of course, and a bag of mish mash decorations collected over the years was pulled out from one of the – yet to be unpacked – boxes in the garage and mixed in with a few new ones we’d bought and of course my iced cookie baubles. Anyone else always have a totally randomly decorated tree? One year I might succeed at chic and colour co-ordinated but this year wasn’t it, and as GB assured me ‘Christmas trees are supposed to be a little tacky’ we ran with it. With parents dropping off presents, we had enough to fill out the bottom and with the twinkling lights turned on, suddenly things were looking suitably festive.
As a 1930’s house, a lot of the period features still remain and in particular the large chimney breasts and fireplaces which adorn every room. We love them and a late night Pinterest scroll a few days previously had given me plenty of inspiration for how to give them a festive makeover. While picking up our tree, I asked if I could also take a few spare branches of fir from the trimmings box and the staff were more than happy for me to save them the trouble of disposing of the remnants, so I also came home armed with a handful of loose greenery. I weaved a few together using floral wire, just big enough to drape over the fireplace and then tied in red berries, my dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks to form a Christmas garland. A couple of tall candles, some hanging candy cane and two Christmas stockings later, and our fireplace was all dressed up! I eventually want to fill the inside with giant logs for a year round display but for now I dressed up the dark chimney with some rustic crates and urns originally bought for our wedding, plenty of fairy lights, candles, pine cones and log roundels.
A few other festive pieces, such as a large vase of dried eucalyptus and red berries (blogger cliche alert) and our cheery wooden reindeer (a gift from GB’s brother which I think is supposed to sit outside but I couldn’t resist bringing him in) plus of course our festive wreath adorning the front door and we’re all set for Christmas!
Sparkly joggers and reindeer socks on, mulled wine in hand and feet up – this is pretty much where you’ll find me all through the holidays!
How are you decking your house out for Christmas?
*Some of the products in this post have been kindly gifted by brands and/or feature affiliate links*