First pick your decorations – literally! How to use festive foliage in your home this Christmas

When it comes to dressing your house in festive finery, nature is all you need, says interior stylist Maria Le Mesurier.

Maria Le Mesurier wreath
Seasonally gathered berries, cones and foliage create a stunning wreath, which will double up as a table centrepiece on Christmas Day. Image: Brent Darby

‘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’.

Maria Le Mesurier tree
A lush tree and fairy lights give the hallway the festive factor, while three-year-old Rocky watches over the presents – beautifully wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of fragrant rosemary. Image: Brent Darby
Maria Le Mesurier table
Cake, nuts, crackers… and a huge bough of silver birch brings Christmas to the kitchen. The table is by woodedit.co.uk. For a similar stove, try klarstein.co.uk. Image: Brent Darby

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.

Maria Le Mesurier aperol spritz
A splash of christmas colour is a must… who’s for a champagne Aperol spritz? Meanwhile, nuts look cracking in real sea-shell ‘bowls’. Image: Brent Darby
Maria Le Mesurier mince pies
A walnut chopping board is the perfect platter for mince pies – accessorised, of course, with a sprig of greenery. Image: Brent Darby

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.

Maria Le Mesurier fireplace
Time to get cosy in front of the fire… and festive foliage, which Maria made using thuja branches and twine. ‘To create a display, don’t think too hard,’ she says. ‘Just keep balancing the branches until they fill the space.’ The woven-grass animal heads are from woodedit.co.uk. Image: Brent Darby
Maria Le Mesurier bedroom
Muted hues and an elegant ochre bed canopy in daughter Dolly’s bedroom create an enchanting retreat. For similar try scandiborn.co.uk. Image: Brent Darby

‘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 Le Mesurier children
Getting toasty: In the courtyard, the children – youngest Rocky, Pearl, 15, Gio, 12, and Dolly, seven, (Alfred, 17, is making hot chocolate) – gather to melt marshmallows. Image: Brent Darby

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.’ 

THE WRAPPING

‘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.’

THE WREATH

‘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.’ 

THE FOOD

‘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.’

Visit woodedit.co.uk or follow Maria @marialemesurier

Words: Ali Heath