Christmas, château style: How Escape to the Château’s Dick and Angel deck the halls

There may be 45 rooms to decorate, but stars of TV hit Escape to the Château Dick and Angel love a challenge. Here’s how they deck the halls, walls… and every inch of their stunning French home. 

Christmas at the Chateau
When it comes to the Christmas dining table, ‘more is more’ for Angel. ‘I like the idea of a banquet for entertaining guests,’ she says. The flowers are mostly cut fresh from the garden, the gold deer ornaments are charity-shop finds. Angel collected the dining chairs overtime – ‘I wanted them to be mismatched – it adds to the vintage feel.’ The faux giraffe head is from brokenhare.co.uk. Image: Andrew Montgomery

Angel and Dick Strawbridge are the wonderfully eccentric couple who captured our hearts while they painstakingly renovated their once-derelict French country pile on primetime TV. As they prepare to celebrate their fifth Christmas at the château, interior stylist Angel shares her decorating tips and tricks…

Christmas at the Chateau
Angel and Dick with their children Arthur and Dorothy. The foliage is also from the château garden. The flower holders are vintage vessels. Image: Andrew Montgomery
Christmas at the Chateau
The moated château in the Loire region has 12 acres of land. Image: Andrew Montgomery

What’s the vibe of this year’s Escape to the Château Christmas special? 

We are still learning the ropes from our French friends, so it’ll be a predominantly traditional British affair with a Parisian twist – lots of jewel colours, sumptuous fabrics and handmade decorations. 

Christmas at the Chateau
The sofa, which Angel upholstered herself, was €50 from Emmaus, her favourite French vintage charity shop (see emmaus.org.uk for British branches). The penny machine is from wolfe-antiques.co.uk and still works. The patterned cushions are part of Angel’s new interiors collection, thechateau.tv. Image: Andrew Montgomery

Who’s coming for Christmas Day?

We’re having lots of friends and family over for our annual pre-Christmas knees-up, where we give presents to everyone who has supported us throughout our château journey. But on Christmas Day it will just be me, Dick, Arthur and Dorothy (plus a visit from Père Noël). You never know, though – last year a sightseer turned up on our doorstep with a camera! 

Christmas at the Chateau
Personalised tree decorations for each family member are used as place settings, made by Adele Mildred, illustrator of Angel’s Vintage book series. Image: Andrew Montgomery

Your secret to a well-dressed tree? 

History! Dick and I have been collecting decorations ever since we met ten years ago. Every Christmas now reminds us of a past one we have spent together. 

Christmas at the Chateau
The ‘Funniest’ print is from wolfe-antiques.co.uk. The puppet theatre cost €4 at a French vintage shop. The children often put on puppet shows: ‘Dorothy loves being the princess; Arthur always wants to be the baddie,’ says Angel. Image: Andrew Montgomery

What’s on your festive to-do list?

For Dick, this is the cooking – selecting the ingredients and basting the bird for the perfect Christmas roast dinner. For me, it’s about making personalised gifts and decorations. Last year I collected some old footballs and wrapped them in fabric with velvet cords to make hanging decorations for the hall. It’s all about the little things and making the most of materials around you. 

Christmas at the Chateau
Angel wanted the playroom to be reminiscent of an old-fashioned fairground. The helter-skelter was handmade by Dick with the help of his friend, actor turned carpenter Johnny Littlefield, whom he met while working on a TV series for National Geographic. ‘It was a big job but the kids play on it every day so it was worth the pain,’ laughs Angel. The rug is from amara.com. Image: Andrew Montgomery

Any decorating advice?

Mix and match everything. I’m currently mixing crystals from an old chandelier with baubles to give the Christmas tree an extra twinkle. I’m a big fan of bringing the outside in – so lots of foliage, branches and flowers from the garden. The scent is divine.

Christmas at the Chateau
In this guest bedroom, the wall sconce was an Ebay purchase. The cushions are from Angel’s interiors range. For similar bedding, try anthropologie.com. Image: Andrew Montgomery

The quick design fix that always works for you? 

Foliage always makes a big impact – and requires very little effort. I add it to the banisters, front door and put it on the mantelpiece. Decorating in areas where there are mirrors is the most rewarding as the reflection doubles up your work, and has the bonus of making the space appear larger. 

Christmas at the Chateau
The copper bathtub is from hurlinghambaths.co.uk. The metro gloss tiles are from dantotsu.co.uk. The rug is from laredoute.co.uk. For a similar copper side table, try oliverbonas.com. Image: Andrew Montgomery

For more information on Angel’s interiors range see thechateau.tv. The Escape to the Château Christmas special will be on Channel 4 on 22 December