Decorating: A cosy, country Christmas
Although it's just a date on a calendar, our loving attention to hearth and home makes Christmas a magical time for family and friends. For those who live a rural life, and for those who sometimes wish they did, a good old-fashioned country Christmas symbolizes all that's right with the holidays. Here, decorator Donald Kirkby draws on charming Swedish inspirations to create a country holiday setting that's right at home anywhere in Canada.
Donald uses the painted pine fireplace mantel as a backdrop for a charming table for two. Humble country design accents like the vintage linen tablecloth, wooden folk-art stars, knitted and velvet stockings, mismatched pots with topiaries, and yards of festive greenery give the dining area an unstudied elegance that's refreshingly simple during such a busy season. Gustavian chairs with Louis XV-style detailing belie their Swedish roots with a coat of off-white paint. The lively red-and-white check fabric and rich, luxurious velvet add vibrancy to the festive setting.
Expand your space
Christmas is a time when the confines of our living quarters are most keenly felt. The dining room that snugly holds eight is taxed beyond its limit when the extended family of 21 arrives for Christmas dinner. Provisions must be made. For that reason, many of us call our living room into service for holiday dining. Existing sofas and chairs can be pushed to the perimeter of the room in order to allow for temporary tables and seating to accommodate the additional diners.
Dos and don'ts of a Swedish country Christmas
DO use natural beeswax candles in abundance to create a celebratory atmosphere. Mismatched candlesticks work beautifully together, provided they have a thread of commonality, like the glass grouping seen here. Make sure to use unscented candles in dining areas.
DO include touches of silver, glass and crystal to enhance the effects of candlelight and to emphasize the importance of the occasion. When tabletop space is tight, glass pedestal bowls or plates free up physical and visual space.
DO include natural decorations such as pinecones, boughs, ivy, boxwood, holly and mistletoe to complement a country look.
DON'T overaccessorize a country-inspired tree – especially if you're trying to achieve a natural look. Keep decorations simple; a string of lights and a rustic tree topper are great choices.
DON'T forget that gift-wrapped packages are part of the decor as well. Use the same materials for decorating gifts. Raffia, pinecones, acorns and pine boughs are a natural fit against humble brown paper. For a special touch, top a gift with a vintage ornament.
DON'T forget that children need to be a part of the preparations. Stringing lights, adding sprigs of holly to dinner napkins and handwriting place cards are tasks that even the young can accomplish.