Now that we approach Christmas, when decorating the home becomes even *more* important (and overwhelming), we just know that Paula will show us how it’s done.
Gardener. Forager. Cook. Homeware extraordinaire. Paula Sutton is our ideal of rural life.
And, in a year when we all wanted to escape to the country, Paula’s vision of an idyllic English cottage over on @hillhousevintage has been giving us serious interiors envy.
So, for expert insight into getting the house ready for Christmas, we caught up with the country-living queen to get her top tips, as well as her top seasonal picks from Wayfair.co.uk.
Your home is looking incredibly festive! What was the inspiration behind your Christmas look with Wayfair and what do you love most about it?
This year, I had a nostalgic, slightly retro country Christmas in mind. Greens, reds and golds, cocktails and vintage sparkle. It’s a joyful celebration of colour and fun that harks back to my childhood. My favourite piece is the vintage style drinks trolley. It’s a fabulous combination of retro and modern and is the perfect addition to a room when you haven’t got space for a drinks cupboard or cocktail bar. I love that at Wayfair you can find something special to suit every style of interior, even vintage!
What are your top tips for styling your Christmas table?
Each year I tend to work with a theme or a colour combination that runs throughout the house during the festive period. My advice would be to decide on your colour scheme first and once you have this, the accessories (Napkins, plates, glassware and decorations) can follow. I advise sticking to a three-colour combination so that it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Also, don’t forget that you don’t have to be too strict; the important thing is to be surrounded by treasures that you love and that bring you joy – after all, it’s meant to be the happiest time of the year!
What does a typical Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day look like at Hill House and will there be any changes in 2020?
On Christmas Eve, the stockings are all laid out in front of the fireplace and my three teenagers still put out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for Rudolf. The stockings are ‘mysteriously’ filled with presents by Christmas morning and only crumbs and an empty glass remain of everything else!
Ever since my children were young, they have started Christmas morning early by waking us up to open their Christmas stockings on our bed.
Later in the day, I am the mistress of the Christmas lunch which is quite funny because my husband is in charge of the Sunday roasts throughout the year. I’ll set the table the night before and we spend the day eating, drinking, playing board games, listening to music and watching nonsense on television. The biggest change this year is that it will be unlikely that the grandparents will join us, which is an awful shame but I suspect that there will be a lot of video call action!
2020 has been the year we have all fallen in love with Hill House and the dream of rural life. What are your thoughts on the cottage core trend that embraces all things country and pastoral, and is it here to stay?
Until earlier this year I had no idea what Cottagecore actually was! I was just living my normal life which just so happened to be so in tune with the movement all by accident. At the heart of it is a return to traditional skills and crafts such as cooking, gardening, foraging and the enjoyment of a simple life – all of which are timeless, so I think they will be here to stay. The trend is certainly a romanticised interpretation of rural life, but it stems from a comforting need for nostalgia and a slower pace for everyday life.
What do you think are going to be the big interiors trends for 2021?
Cottagecore is something that started off as very simplistic but I think it can also be mixed with touches of glamour to create a luxe traditional style. Elegant vintage style barware, gilded cutlery and statement gold accessories are all ways to get the look whilst staying on budget and touches of British quirk will keep the look feeling grounded. There are also many people who have missed the freedom to go aboard, so I predict a return to a global inspiration within interiors, where our spaces reflect our travels, the sea and distant shores.
How would you describe your interior style in a nutshell? Where do you find inspiration?
My vintage look is heavily influenced by classic English country house style. Overstuffed sofas filled with cushions, faded textiles, chintz, colour and mixed pattern. It has a faded grandeur vibe, carefully weaving in ‘new’ pieces so that Hill House still feels comfortable and eclectic – as if it’s all been there for years.
What are your style tips for a happy blend of old with new?
For me, that’s a combination that adds personality! I love buying vintage and using things that have been loved before, but I’m not a slave to recreating a certain period in time. My ideal is to achieve an eclectic layered look that includes vintage-inspired contemporary pieces, such as glass candlesticks or scalloped dinnerware, for a clever nod to a past time without recreating a stage set.
We have been spending more time at home than ever in 2020. What are your favourite ways to unwind at Hill House and make the most of the changing seasons?
I am three things: a baker, a forager and a gardener! I love to create extravagant multi-layered sponge cakes stuffed with whipped cream and seasonal fruit jams. I love being in my garden and flowers are a big passion of mine but I also have a magpie habit of collecting things to use as styling accessories and ornaments for the house. Pine cones, conkers, dried leaves and branches can all find their way into a wreath or vase.
Has your home environment, or interior style, changed as your children have grown up?
My style has evolved to become more ‘elegant with a shabby twist’, than simply just shabby! My love of vintage and all things faded and floral was a wonderful interior style whilst the children were growing up as it meant that nothing was too precious. Now that the children are older, I’m able to introduce more luxurious elements into the mix such as beautiful fabrics, luxe accessories and decorative pieces.
Finally, the most important question of all… What would you love to find wrapped up under the Christmas tree this year?
Under my tree this year I would love to find a beautiful vintage oil painting to add to my gallery wall or a Hugo Guinness print for my growing collection. Failing that, I would ask for a teleportation portal, which I could step through to hug all of the loved ones that I’ve been missing this year!
Expert tips from Nadia McCowan Hill, Wayfair’s Resident Style Advisor
After a tumultuous year, there is something oh-so comforting about a classic red and green colour palette and traditional Christmas styling. For a modern take on a vintage favourite, try mixing in contrasting prints such as polka dots, stripes, and gingham. It pays to not have too many tones at play when combining different patterns, so limit yourself to a restricted palette of no more than two or three tones. A hint of glimmering gold offers the perfect contrast to all things crimson and emerald.
Setting the table
You don’t need an overwhelming amount of wine glasses, knives and forks à la Downton Abbey to set the scene of celebration, just a well-appointed mix of glassware, cutlery, crockery and table linen to suit the dining experience to come. A cotton or linen napkin rolled into a napkin ring and styled with a stem of thistle, mistletoe or eucalyptus makes for an elegant finish.
To keep your festive table from looking too chaotic, style with a staggered variation of pieces in different heights and proportions, from cake stands and vases, and single candle holders to candelabras. This will help the look to feel layered and easy on the eye.
For festive decor with a natural allure, trail pine cone and berry string lights along the mantel. Combine them with fresh mistletoe, ivy, and a selection of twinkling baubles to create a simple but effective display. Unique ornaments hung with varying lengths of velvet ribbons make for a quirky eye-catcher. No mantel in sight? Decorate the window sill, sideboard or buffet with lush greens and twinkling lights.
While some love a minimalistic look, Christmas is about going all out-think glimmering candles styled with luxe glassware, lush florals, and an array of fun decor. So why not add a few oversized honeycomb paper ornaments for a playful twist?
Enjoy in style
A vintage-inspired bar cart is the perfect place to store your favourite beverages and some nibbles should an appetite strike. Retro coupe glasses and stemless glasses are ideal to serve not only drinks but also their accompaniments, with their gold rims adding extra sparkle to your Christmas decor.