H:2

Site Country: UK Site Name: UK

Balmoral table, Wardley chair painted in Smoke, William armchair in Isla Fox, Amelia armchair in Emma Dove.

Behind the scenes
Notes from a stylist

Whenever we do our Christmas photoshoots, there’s a lot of build up to any that involve a dining table. It’s the shot that’s usurped the Christmas tree. It’s overtaken the festive fireplace. Delicious food and gathering those closest to you around the table is the most cherished part of Christmas Day, and so it’s no surprise that it’s become the most memorable setting in the entire house.

Last year, our shot of the season saw a beautiful branch suspended over the Arundel dining table. We bought it home from a woodland walk and lavishly decorated it with twinkling fairy lights and glistening baubles. The benches either side were draped with cosy sheepskin rugs and velvet cushions. This year, we were guided by the inspiration that fuelled our entire autumn/winter collection: modern mixology. It blends contemporary craft and subversive styling with heritage materials and traditional silhouettes. And it will translate to city loft apartment as much as it will to country retreat.

The best bit? It’s really rather easy to recreate.

The centre stage performers

The table that we’ve chosen to use is the newly-released Balmoral. It’s a classic refectory table with sculpted baluster legs and an oak pedigree, but the heavily brushed finish gives it a bit of edge. It looks at its best in larger spaces. Why it works It’s a timeless design so that immediately gives the look real gravitas. Its size and splendour are a little majestic and are perfectly suited to occasions as special as Christmas Day. And because it’s solid oak, even without trying, there’s a whisper of winter forest to the scheme, which is one of our favourite festive references.

The chairs are armchairs. If you’re like us, and long for the comforting embrace of a sofa or squishy armchair after you’ve been sat on a wooden chair for a little too long, then this idea will resonate particularly well with you. Christmas is a time for generosity and luxury, so if you have the space, sit upon armchairs while you feast instead of the traditional dining chair. We’ve used our William chairs. Why it works Because it’s decadent. Because it’s doing things differently. More than that, it’s doing something that we’ll instinctively think won’t work while wishing it could. It works because there’s space in the room. It works because every fabric is different, making each chair feel even more special. If you’re a little more limited on space, add in a handsome dining chair or two to break things up, but always with a blanket draped over its back.

The decorations are home-made. Pinwheels are so easy to make, even for the less-artistic types, and children will just love to help. We’ve used a variation of sizes and decorative touches so the look isn’t too consistent and keeps the eye entertained. Take a sheet of normal A4 paper to practise on. Concertina it (like when you made pretend fans as a child) and then press all the folds together. Make a simple triangle-shaped snip into the one side, cutting through all of the folds, and then open it out into a semi-circle shape. Repeat identically on another sheet of A4 and join them together to form one big circle. You can do as many practice-goes as you need, experimenting with size and design and then move onto the real thing, hanging them using festive ribbon or baker’s twine and suspending them from beams, rafters and anything else that’s above your table. Mix in some long sprigs and fallen twigs from fir trees speckled with fairy lights. Create a contemporary monochrome paper chain. And then all hang together, overlapping, occasionally entangling and absolutely mesmerising. Why it works Paper pinwheels are so nostalgic that they can’t help but make you smile. They’re quite minimal in their looks and so have a subtle Nordic-ness to them that’s which brings another style dimension to your scheme. And they’re unexpected. Surprises are an integral part of Christmas Day after all.

The supporting cast

The tabletop is still one of the most important parts of this entire scheme but it takes on a quieter role upon first glance as you’re immediately drawn to the larger-scale pieces. We always like to bring in foliage from outdoors and use it as the centrepiece, but because we’ve used it above our tables this year, it means space is freed up to let the surroundings pop. Always intersperse candles though – some on holders, some in tealight cups, some stood alone – and fill each soup bowl with a glistening bauble or golden decoration. Why it works There’s a lot going on and that’s what makes it so special. It’s over the top in loveliness, it’s purposefully higgledy piggedly, it’s relaxed but refined, and the colours are muted except for the flash of antiqued gold here and there.

The floor is herringbone parquet. This is not a must. It’s not a quick fix. But it deserved a mention. Why it works The wide and long slats are much more of-the-now than traditional parquet so it creates an interesting interplay between old and new which is what this whole look is about. And let’s be honest, when does parquet ever not deserve a wholehearted round of applause?


 

Something from Stories

This is an article from our latest volume of Stories: Stories for Winter.
Order your free copy here.