A Luxury Christmas Dining Room

[Paid Partnership with Juliette’s Interiors]

Being a dreamer, I have no trouble at all slipping into fantasy mode when it comes to interiors. None at all. So I was happy to oblige when Juliette’s Interiors asked me to create a Luxury Christmas Dining Room based around one of their incredible dining tables and other dining room furniture.

I love sitting around the dining table at Christmas time, lingering for much longer than usual, with a full fridge and well-stocked bar, feeling truly relaxed with little more to do than think about the next meal and which cocktail I might create to go with it. Just me? I actually can’t wait for that lovely few days of complete limbo, taking some proper time-out to really unwind and breathe!

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I like my living room to feel celebratory rather than be particularly decorated, keeping the actual Christmas decorating mostly on the tree. We have a Balsam Hill tree and I think I’ll keep it pretty simple this year. But I love to add a bit of sparkle in other ways, with candles aplenty, low light and lots of lovely brass and golds. Christmas crackers are a must of course, you can never have too many as far as my kids (and husband!) are concerned, which is fine by me, as long as they work with my chosen colour scheme. The Fortnum & Mason Christmas Crackers look amazing!

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I based my luxury dining room around the Contemporary Oval Walnut dining table, adding über comfortable Italian Nubuck Leather upholstered dining chairs that mean you want to spend hours around the table, and not just at Christmas.

For me, dining room essentials aside from the obvious table and chairs are a sideboard, a mirror to throw some light around and to reflect the flickering candles (make mine large, round and brass thanks), and fabulous lighting. A showstopper of a chandelier that must be on a dimmer switch of course, and lovely lamps to give a warm welcoming glow.

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Add some art, a rug to add extra warmth if you dare - I added the Tracery rug by Kelly Wearstler from The Rug Company, and then your small accessories to bring it to life. I’m particularly obsessed with these amazing gold studded jewellery boxes - and candles, don’t forget the candles. At Christmas time you have the perfect excuse to really go overboard in the candle department - think tea lights, tapered dinner candles and scented candles. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as too many (so long as you keep an eye on them of course!).

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Remember to use all your best table and glassware - I love a champagne saucer rather than a flute - they just feel so much more glamorous! This gold cutlery by Alessi is definitely special, and I love Villaroy & Boch glassware.

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And there you have it - my Luxury Christmas Dining Room with pieces from Juliette’s Interiors. Pop over to Pinterest to see all of my favourite Juliette’s Interiors pieces and more!

Ten Fab Statement Lamps

There are a few things that can make a huge difference to making your home feel cosy and inviting (aside from turning the heating on, and lighting your favourite scented candle, obvs) when the evenings get darker and colder, and my favourite is to look at the lighting in each room. 

As I type, on a pretty bleak grey day, the only thing stopping the room from feeling equally gloomy, is the fact that I have several lamps on.

The only rooms in our house that don’t have at least two lamps are the bathrooms. For my non-UK readers, you’re not allowed to have power sockets in the bathroom here. I know. Although don't get me started on this topic because having previously lived in Australia and New Zealand where you can have power sockets in the bathroom, I think it’s beyond ridiculous. After all, I managed to never electrocute myself in thirty years of living there.

It’s so annoying as I actually love the look of a lamp in a bathroom, not to mention the convenience of being able to dry my hair in there, but anyway, I digress.

I’ve rounded up my favourite lamps of the moment, some of these lamps fall into the Uber Statement lamp category, as they are not just beautiful but also huge, and boy do I love a huge lamp. But it’s not always necessary or even convenient, so I’ve not exclusively included huge ones, but I have exclusively included ones of exceptionally good looks…

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Laid-back Luxe with Loaf

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I remember about six years ago when a friend had ordered a Loaf sofa for her newly renovated home, feeling an unfamiliar pang of sofa jealousy, so it was with great excitement that I dragged, I mean took my husband and kids along to our local Shack in Shoreditch to choose one of our very own back in April. After all, a Loaf sofa is a ‘proper’, grown-up-sofa-for-life kind of sofa. Sofa goals you could say.

The Hall family are creatures of comfort, so lounge-ability was a big consideration when choosing one of Loafs many beautiful designs, but I learnt quickly that Loaf sofas are all designed for exactly that, so you’re totally spoilt for choice. Comfort is key - they don’t call them loafing machines for nothing!

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What I also realised when sitting on them is that I wanted a low slouch-back kind of design, rather than a more upright one, and that one design that had been on my favourites list, was actually too deep for me (I’m 5’4” ish), and therefore not a comfy sit. So I quickly figured out what I did and didn’t like comfort wise, and was able to narrow it down to the Boho and the Slim Jim designs that I liked equally, although they’re very different style wise, the Boho being a modern take on a Chesterfield, and the Slim Jim being, well, slim, with lovely narrow arms leaving maximum sitting space.

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In typical contrary fashion, Edie instantly fell head over heels in love with the Crumpet sofa, proclaiming ever-lasting love and vowing to one day own one herself when she has her own place. Start them young right?

Baxter however,  was more interested in the giant Teddy Bear and Jelly Bean vending machines than having an opinion on which sofa we should choose, and Ed was rather taken with the Boho sofa too. So decision made, right?!

Ah well for most people, probably, but over the coming days I decided that although I do indeed love the Boho, that its high arms were not right for the intended spot in our living room, and in the end, I pulled rank, and went for the Slim Jim that was my first choice when initially browsing the website. Sometimes your first choice is the best, but it’s definitely worth going through the process to make sure!

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So obviously with the style decided, the colour choice would be easy! Not…

I change my mind. A lot. I’m fickle, and what I love and can’t live without one day, I might be completely over within months. Weeks even. I blame the constant bombardment of products and interior imagery in my job. So what I have learnt over the years is that for me, especially when it comes to things that are harder to change like flooring, tiles, and large pieces of furniture, that classic is best. Although I do have a constant internal battle with this too, as I don’t believe that you should always go for the sensible option. Just sometimes.

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That said, the selection of beautiful muted blues and greens really were calling me and the Rose Quartz Clever Deep Velvet is absolute pink perfection. However, I decided that either Fawn or Mint (both from the Clever Velvet fabric collection), were indeed THE ONES. In fact, I even did an instagram poll back then to help me decide - on both the sofa design (between the Boho and Slim Jim) and the colour (between Fawn and Mint).

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If I had listened to Instagram, I’d be writing about the Boho Sofa in Mint Clever Velvet right now. But obviously I did’t listen…

In fact I ended up discounting both fabrics, deciding they were too dark, and started my fabric selection again from scratch, much to the bemusement of my family.

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I looked at the gorgeous linens (falling particularly hard for the Natural Linen and Grey Daybreak Clever Laundered Linen), and then realised that I had completely disregarded the paler grey velvets because ‘I’m not a grey person’. Am I?

I’ve always maintained that pale grey is a classic neutral, and you just can’t argue with the credentials of Loafs Clever Velvet. As soon as I realised this fact I gravitated towards Smoky Grey, and this time it really was THE ONE. It’s pale but not so pale that I panic when the cat or children go near it, and it’s just do damn pretty. And soft. So very soft and inviting.

Velvet has a good reputation for not being particularly interesting for cats to scratch, and while I’ve seen this disproven, Cleo hasn’t taken to clawing it so far, so fingers crossed that doesn’t change. It was definitely a big part of the decision to go with Velvet over Linen, though I’m actually so pleased with my fabric choice now, regardless of cat claws.

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We’ve had our Slim Jim sofa in Smoky Grey Clever Velvet since early July and to say we love it is an understatement. The first thing I did after proclaiming that I definitely wasn’t going to spend the afternoon faffing around with cushions for it, after it was delivered by two very jolly gentlemen, was in fact lie on it and fall asleep instead! Oops! But that’s the thing, it’s the kind of sofa that you sink into and suddenly that thing you were going to do seems so unimportant. In a funny way, it has actually meant I’ve started taking more time to relax in the evenings because once I sit down, I just don’t want to get up. And usually don’t!

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We went for the extra large size (a whopping 252cms long!) which not only fills the space but works with the proportions of the room perfectly. It’s no longer annoying if someone wants to snooze while you read at the other end, as there’s enough room for both.

This room has evolved so much over the last few years but I feel like I’ve finally nailed the laid-back luxe look that I love, with the sofa being the final piece in the puzzle. More importantly than the look of the room, it feels super inviting now, and like it’s finally where it’s supposed to be. I’m not dreading winter too much, knowing that we can all snuggle up on our new sofa and stay warm and cosy! All four of us can all sit comfortably on it, and that really is lovely.

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I will admit that it did take me a little while to get used to it being a squishy sofa, rather than a structured one which I’ve always had before, but Loaf sofas aren’t supposed to look perfect at all times, these are sofas for lounging, and despite my short-lived initial fears, it fits in brilliantly with the look of the room, affording it more laid-back than up-tight vibes!

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Of course, like any new thing, its arrival did cause a bit of a ripple effect that led me to taking down the monochrome gallery wall, having a huge art switch around in the whole house, and deciding that our colourful spot print would look great above it. And never one to take the easy option, I also decided that a block of acid yellow behind said spot print, would look even better. Of course I’ve had a cushion rethink too which will continue to evolve, but I do love the soft colour palette mixed with the acid yellow, ochre and lilac!

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I can also attest to the ‘cleverness’ of the Clever Velvet as Baxter has been learning to skateboard and had quite a few tumbles before we enlisted knee-pads. He must have leant on the edge of the sofa one day and I didn’t see until the following day that he had left not an insignificant patch of (by then dry) blood behind. Eek! Too much information? But the point is I panicked first, then gently wiped it off with a damp sponge, and there is absolutely no trace of it. PHEW and WOW in equal measures.

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I almost forgot to mention our Gumdrop footstool! I didn’t realise I’d been missing a footstool in my life until this arrived, and now I do give Ed the side-eye if he’s already using it when I walk into the room, but first come first served, right? Thankfully my decision making process was quick and easy here - I loved the design of the Gumdrop, as it’s compact and cute, with the button detail and dark charcoal being the perfect contrast against the pale and more sleek sofa, while also tying in with the monochrome pattern on the recently reupholstered chair in the bay window.

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Our new sofa is very much at home, and we all love it. Even Baxter’s lack of interest in the Shack initially, changed when he saw it in the house and he called it ‘epic’ which believe me, is high praise indeed as are his running dive-bombs into it at any given opportunity.

I really can’t speak highly enough of our Loaf sofa, so check out their many styles (some new ones have just been added to their site too - I’m a bit in love with the new Smooch sofa!) when you’re in the market for a proper grown-up sofa.

Boy's Bedroom That Will Last From Seven to Seventeen (and beyond!)

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I’m so excited to finally share Baxter’s ‘new’ bedroom with you today. Not so new actually as he’s been in this room since March, but it’s taken me rather a lot longer than anticipated to get it completely ready to share. Note I said ‘completely ready to share’ rather than ‘completely finished’, because he is still missing a blind (and I’m pleased to have waited as I had planned a roman blind, but actually this north facing room with a small window needs all the natural light available, so I’ve decided to go for a simple roller instead so that no light is blocked out), and the back of his door needs to be painted which has just been a blind spot and I keep forgetting, but those two things aside, its DONE!

This room was his bedroom when he was a baby, and although he moved downstairs for several years into the back room that is now my office and guest room (keep up!), the top floor of the house was always intended to eventually be the kids floor, with Edie, aka the luckiest girl in London, getting the much larger front room up there. Does this bother Baxter? Not one single bit. Sometimes a seven year age gap comes in handy, and I suspect this is one of those times.

So let me take you through what I did in here to change what had been being used as the guest room, into a ‘young gentleman’s den’ as I like to refer to it. I have no photos of what it looked like before as it was pretty uninspiring, filled with odd bits and pieces of furniture that weren’t wanted elsewhere as is often the case with spare rooms. It wasn’t anything to write home about and certainly didn’t feature on the blog or indeed the ‘gram!

Anyway, here’s what I did…

Bespoke Bed

Sometimes the only way to go is bespoke, and although this is never a cheap option, it really was the best way to maximise space in this small room, so I had a carpenter build a raised bed incorporating storage. At the front there are cupboards for clothes (with an internal shelf, and I have felt baskets in there to help keep it semi-organised), and extending along from the end of his bed at top of mattress height is a shelf / shallow desk that runs the width of that wall. The idea being that its use will change with him over the years.

The wall the shelf runs along is where the mansard roof of the loft extension slopes in - it was a tricky space that could only accommodate a low piece of furniture, and the radiator is under the window on the same wall too. Having this floating structure built has made the space infinitely more useable without impacting much at all on the overall space.

It can be used as a desk, for a laptop (or desktop!), just for books, dispaying favourite things, or all the above, and eventually I will add a hanging rail or two to the underside when he needs hanging space for clothes that he just doesn’t require yet.

Oh, and I almost forgot. His cupboards are half the depth of the bed, and there are two hatch doors under his mattress to access the back section which houses paperwork, photographs, and Ed’s rather large skateboard collection. This was a great way of utilising all the space and creating hidden storage for things that are rarely accessed.

Wall Light & Full Wall Pin-Board

I had been very inspired by the room that Athena Calderone created for her son in their Brooklyn Brownstone. Mine is the (presumably) more affordable DIY version (I don’t think her sons wall is actually a pin-board, it looks more like a decorative padded wall situation), and although it was a massive pain in the behind to create, the full wall pin-board made from three sections insulation board covered in Eau de Nil Atom Prism Plains fabric from Harlequin, is such a lovely feature in this otherwise featureless room, and I’m so glad I persevered when I very nearly gave up!

Before the bed was built I had my electrician come and wire for the double swing arm Ogilvy wall light from Made.com. Although the light has a small switch on the base plate, it was going to be hung high, so I had a matt black toggle switch (purchased from Buster & Punch) installed too, so that Baxter could turn it on and off easily from bed, boutique hotel style! I got the placement wrong the first time, and some of you may remember my Instagram stories filling the hole when it was moved to the right spot. You live and learn, right?

Then when I finally got the three pin-board panels ready and up (it’s a whole other story!), complete with a hole for the wiring, the wall light was mounted on top. No it was not an easy process, but as my husband often says when I’m stressing about these things and going slightly mad, ‘if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!’. It helps. Sometimes.

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Paint

I painted the entire room (woodwork, ceiling, bed, shelf/desk included) in Sanderson’s Grey Birch, a very soft muted pale beige that is the perfect colour for the room, and instantly lightened and brightened it, without it feeling dingy, dirty or cold which you have to be careful of with pale colours in darker rooms. Good job too after the number of colours I tested! I love this colour, it’s the kind of magical neutral that would work in any room with any style.

Yes his bed is high, and no he doesn’t fall out. Not shown, but he has a nice Ikea step to use to get up onto his bed more easily.

Storage

On top of the under bed cupboards, his beautiful West Elm mid-century style bedside table offers a fair bit more storage. It’s big for a bedside table, which is exactly why I chose it, as it gives him plenty of space for a cup of water, books, lego creations and other random very important things on top, an open shelf where more books and his headphones a various gadgets live, and two spacious drawers for stuff (top) and clothes (bottom).

He also has the Hadid clothes hamper from Made.com and some smaller matching lidded baskets (lids are key for hiding stuff in kids rooms if you’re not into the cluttered look!), which are full of soft toys and his now minimal dress up collection. He actually wanted to get rid of most of his belongings when he moved rooms although we kept his lego even though he was adamant at the time that he didn’t want it any more!

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His room works perfectly for this minimalist boy. If he develops a clothes shopping habit like his dad then we might be in trouble, but for now he has all the storage he needs. I may have even stolen one side of his cupboards for spare duvets and blankets, so they can be relocated if and when he needs more space.

He LOVES his room. He also loves his extremely soft Helgar sheepskin rug which is also from Made.com, and I often find him lying on it reading.

I finally caved and we put some things on the pin board, which I admit I’d been massively resisting. And do you know what? They were the finishing touch that his room was missing. And he loves his personalised Baxter print, so kindly sent to him by Gayle Mansfield too, proudly asking for it to be hung above his bed.

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More Lighting

Because you can never have too many lamps (see also cushions), I added my old desk lamp to his bedside table, and this absolute beauty, the Vetro table lamp from Made.com to his shelf. His room now has a lovely ambient light at night time with plenty of light for reading in bed.

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Oh and the Mackerel cushion on his bed was not intended for his room. I bought it a month or so ago for the living room, but I should have known with his fondness for soft toys that I didn’t stand a chance. I can’t remember what he’s named it, Mick or Max I think (no, not Mack as suggested). Anyway, I’m pretty sure he’s there to stay now, and I must admit he does work very well with the subtle green theme so who am I to argue? The lovely linen cushion that Polkra so kindly sent to me several months ago also fits right in. His green linen pillowcase is from H&M, and the other bed linen (grid duvet cover and euro pillowcase and quilt) are all from La Redoute. The Arles lozenge shaped mirror was the perfect finishing touch to his room, tying in with all the other black accents whilst throwing some extra light around too. In fact, it’s currently the only full length mirror in the house - something of a blind-spot for us apparently!

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This room should take Baxter through the next several years at least with very little to no need for any changes. I mean I’d be super happy with that cosy set-up myself!

A huge thanks to Sanderson, Harlequin, West Elm and Made.com for working with me on this project.

Top Ten Rugs For Busy Homes

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I love a rug, maybe even more than I love a cushion, and as much as I love a lamp, and if you know me, you know that's a LOT. They can zone a space and bring a room to life instantly, and the possibilities are endless as far as colours and pattern go. Obviously they get walked all over on a regular basis, so with this edit I've kept busy homes in mind and chosen rugs that could deal with relatively heavy traffic. That is, rugs that wouldn’t be completely destroyed the first time your seven year old traipses all over it with his trainers on to get to his beloved iPad on the other side of the room, because lets face it, a seven year old trying to get to an iPad is rather like the Terminator getting to his target, and your precious new rug is probably the last thing on his mind.

We only have a rugs in the living room and the kids rooms and I'm pretty strict about no shoes on them (and no shoes upstairs). That said, it doesn't always happen (see above) but they have all survived really well so far. In fact, I've included the living room one in my edit because it's neutral, with a subtle pattern and lots of texture and still looks brand new despite being over a year old now. Texture and colour variation are the most important thing for a rug surviving a busy home so keep that in mind when rug shopping.

Okay, I confess that numbers 5 and 6 probably (definitely) don’t fall into the ‘good for busy homes’ category at all, but I had to include them because it was love at first sight, and number 5, thanks to the spookiness of everything we look at online constantly popping us to remind us how much we should buy it, is now haunting me everywhere I look. Such are the perils of putting shopping edits together when you’re actually just window shopping for yourself. And number 6 is an absolute BARGAIN for the size and I just love it. Sorry, I couldn’t leave them out, but perhaps lock the kids and pets out of those rooms completely if you do go for either of those ones. Kidding. Kind of.

I think all these rugs are reasonably priced for the size, ranging from £150 to £600 for that gorgeous Maya Rug in a 6’ x 8’ size and hitting all price points (and bigger sizes) in between…