As I write I’m high above the clouds courtesy of British Airways after a pre-Christmas trip home to England where for two weeks I felt as if I’d stumbled onto the set of Love, Actually, the movie that pays homage to our interconnectedness and to love of all kinds, and throughout which writer and director Richard Curtis threads humor, pathos, great music and loads of BBC festive nonsense. Whatever your spiritual leaning this has always been the season of Love and Light, as we plunge towards the heart of winter.
Friends and family gather for better or for worse and for a few weeks our Hamptons homes take on a celebratory air bringing nature and luminosity indoors, enhanced by all things shiny and sparkly.
Our front doors present our face to the world and make a statement about our personalities and interests. Some even display a welcoming wreath year round to beautify the entrance to their Hamptons home. Both wreaths above are taken from English Home and Country Homes and Interiors magazines and are elegant examples of the variety of styles and decoration available. There remain many exquisite hydrangea blooms on our garden bushes which can be trimmed and put to good use indoors right now. Add eucalyptus and white silk roses to an evergreen frame for a truly beautiful and fragrant display. An alternative more rustic wreath drawing from the ancient traditions is constructed around a frame of twigs and features dried fruit and cinnamon. The orange, red and brown hues shown here work extraordinarily well against the mullion window and gray front door of the home. Always make sure the size of wreath fits the proportions of your door.
Whereas bold use of color in home décor is to be encouraged more often than not, December’s winter solstice lends itself to a more liberal use of old white, ivory, cream and magnolia reflecting the frost and snowfall of the season as well as communicating spirit and peace. The sparkling white table setting above, courtesy of English Home, uses a silvery, twinkling garland running along the table center with silver and glass votive candle holders. White heart accents are displayed on napkins, silver cruets and dinner plate creating a far more feminine, peaceful dining experience than the usual heavy dark greens and reds representing the holly and the ivy.
For a more traditional yet creative approach Country Homes and Interiors introduces us to an inventive setting by mixing red patterned and white china and place mats further enhanced by silver ornaments, birch candle holders and a dark crimson dahlia flower. A truly beautiful table setting make excellent use of seasonal tartans and plaids.
The final area of major importance to be considered is the fireplace and mantelpiece which grace many a Hamptons dwelling. Traditionally hung with heavy evergreen garlands the feeling can become overpowering especially as the home becomes crowded with extras like house guests, gifts, dogs and the occasional fir tree. A lighter and more feminine approach has been used on the mantel above from English Home magazine. An antique white, pale pink and pale gold garland with tiny pine cones graces this elegant white art nouveau fireplace and surround. A small matching wreath, using our friend the hydrangea head, is placed between two white pillar candles with gold and glass ornaments and photo frames—very easy on the eye, light, airy and peaceful. An instant stress reducer when taken with a large Tanqueray, tonic and lime.
To bring a festive, seasonal and wintery feel to powder rooms, hallways, kitchens and guest bedrooms alike place small silver votive holders filled with warm brown hazel nuts next to sprays of fresh green pine. And this time of year go overboard bringing in the light. You can’t have too many white candles and votives scattered singly or grouped together, layering different heights, throughout your Hamptons home.
Peace and love be with you and yours this yuletide season, and may the New Year fill your home with abundance and beauty.
Helen Lind is an interior decorator, organizer and home stager working in Long Island and Manhattan. You can contact her at (516) 922-3518 for a proposal or consultation, or visit her www.englishivyinteriors.com.