With interior designer Lonika Chande
Lonika Chande is an interior designer of innate style and talent. Her work is timeless and thoughtful, transcending trends through creativity and innovation. She was awarded the House & Garden Award for Design Talent last year and has, quite rightly, become a taste-maker for those who admire her eye for detail.
So when we wanted to find a new approach to Christmas decor, there was no one better to ask for their ideas on how to create festive cheer without the clichés…
How to decorate without creating an overt Christmas theme?
Think beyond Christmas colours
I think Christmas is a time to really experiment with colour, the more clashing the better. I am particularly partial to jewel tones, which give that unusual burst of colour I love.
To set the festive mood at home, I dot candles everywhere, usually inexpensive, brightly-coloured or simple cream tapered candles (the drippier the better) in vintage candlesticks. True Grace does the best colours. For the table, using tea lights in small vessels gives a lovely glow and means you can still talk over them. And I always burn a candle in the loo.
There are so many wonderful scents associated with Christmas. This year I’ll introduce my children to making pomander balls – oranges studded with cloves - that I’ll pile high in serving bowls like for that heady mix of aromas. It also doesn’t smell like Christmas for me without Czech & Speake No.88 incense sticks which remind me of the wonderfully chaotic Christmases of my childhood.What are the secret touches that a host can add to make sure the dinner goes down as top notch?
A simple wreath
Instead of the more decorative ones, I like to pick up traditional plain holly wreaths from my local farmers market for a fraction of the price, and then decorate with a lovely ribbon.
Hyacinth bulbs (I like white) or Paperwhites look and smell beautiful dotted around the house. I put them in terracotta pots or coloured tumblers and surround them with moss – it’s much cheaper and longer lasting than anything from the florist.
I re-use my coloured paper streamers from Re-found year after year. The colours are so vibrant and fun.
Keep it fruity
There will be a bowl filled with clementines, walnuts or pomegranates on every spare surface – I love the mix of colours and textures (also perfect for snacking as you pass!).
How do you make your presents pop?
I wrap with brown craft paper, old magazines and newspapers (the FT for that lovely pink). You could add an ink stamp for a nice extra touch.
I am a not-so-secret ribbon hoarder and use those to wrap presents, mixing the colours and textures (and of course steal it all back to reuse the next year!). VV Rouleaux is my favourite shop for ribbons.
I add little brown luggage tags or even write directly on the present in a nice marker.
Talk us through laying your Christmas table?
My favourite way to dress a special table is to buy a few meters of inexpensive block print fabric from Etsy or ebay. I’m not precious about it and if it gets ruined I’ll use it to line drawers or make a lampshade after.
I tend to keep plates plain (although not sure I can resist my Green Chain plates this year) and like to go big on the napkins – tied with brocade ribbon from The Cloth Shop stapled into a ring – which can be re-used. I love a stripe but washed linen napkins work well too.
Brightly coloured crackers needn’t be expensive and are everybody’s favourite. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the fortune teller fish!
For decoration, I love to use colourful glass tumblers (for water or wine), tea lights in votives and foliage and little bulbs in pots.
I love a slight retro feel to the table, with chocolate coins and Quality Street. They catch the candle light beautifully and act as the perfect between-course snack…
I like making simple hand-written cards for place settings – using a metallic sharpie or paint pens from Cass Art, on thick watercolour, deckled edge or cotton rag paper from Etsy.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions?
Negronis to drink (perhaps it’s the amber glow), fizz for breakfast, smoked salmon on brown bread, mulled wine, pigs in blankets, nuts in bowls, endless clementines. I also always make a batch of cheese sables, ready to be baked at a moment’s notice.
Now that I have children, I’m looking forward to sharing traditions with them, singing carols, going to the theatre and seeing the Christmas lights. This year they will be receiving their first stockings and I look forward to filling them with clementines, chocolate coins and a Lindt reindeer from my mum.
What's on your Late Afternoon Christmas wish list?
Top of my Christmas list are some Blanco Tumblers: perfect for every day and stunning with a delicious coloured drink inside.
Any of the Circus Serving Bowls would make lovely gifts but also keen to have them piled high with things around my house.
I’m building on my collection of Green Chain plates to have the full set soon. I’m particularly excited about the side plates as they are used for everything in my house.
A Yellow Pitcher for serving mulled wine with a big ladle, re-purposed in the summer for lemonade.
And always love a stripe so I’ve got my fingers crossed for a few Garden Stripe Napkins in my stocking this year…