When it comes to dressing your house in festive finery, nature is all you need, says interior stylist Maria Le Mesurier.
‘Dressing our house for Christmas begins and ends with greenery – it is the root of inspiration for both my home and work,’ says interior stylist Maria Le Mesurier. Her love of a simple, natural look, she says, has given her West Sussex home a ‘quiet, reflective ambience that, with five children aged three to 17, is calming and practical’.
Indeed, the 17th-century former stable block Maria shares with husband Paul, co-founder of their furniture business WoodEdit, has become synonymous with sculptural branches of seasonal foliage that feature heavily all year round. ‘At Christmas, I love to supersize the look, with enormous fallen boughs of silver birch – gathered from the surrounding woodland and entwined with twinkly fairy lights – dotted throughout the house.’ Displayed alongside Maria’s always copious foliage, the look is dramatic yet stylishly pared back.
Throughout the family’s welcoming home, textural touches enhance the natural aesthetic: raw linen in warm shades; basketry and Italian ceramics that add decorative appeal. Not to mention the wooden furniture handcrafted by Paul that lends a timeless, minimalist vibe.
‘For us, Christmas is all about embracing time out together as a family: long walks, relaxed suppers, cosy fires and, for the adults, always a festive Aperol spritz. Sometimes it’s about the little things. For us less is always definitely more.’
Maria’s top tips for the finishing touches
THE FIREPLACE MANTEL
‘Created with Thuja branches, known also as Arbor Vitae – the tree of life, it is renowned for its homeopathic medicinal properties, and has a smell evocative of Christmas. The display is held together with simple twine – the trick is to not think too hard – just keep balancing branches until full.’
‘Presents are always wrapped simply in brown paper and embellished with fresh sprigs of rosemary that scent the house beautifully. Often stacked in simple baskets brought back from Madeira, where my late father used to live – they bring back happy childhood memories.’
‘Match the tones of your wreath to complement the shade of your front door colour. Made up of seasonally gathered foliage, If left to dry out, they work well hung from a simple peg rail throughout the year.’
‘Use delicate branch offcuts to embellish your Christmas cake and festive food boards with a natural edge – it will unite the decorative look. Use sprigs of rosemary and mint to add aromatic appeal to festive cocktails and water jugs; or within a bedside vase for guests.’
Words: Ali Heath