Christmas house: a 19th century home in the Cotswolds

Christmas lasts all year round in Lucy Greaves’ elegant country home because it doubles up as the headquarters for an annual charity event she organises

traditional living room Christmas
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Do you dream of spending the Christmas in a country manor? They don't come more magical than this! Decorated in traditional red and green, the timeless interiors of the Greaves family 19th century home in the Cotswolds ooze timeless charm and elegance. As the director of The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds – held every year at Daylesford Organic Farm – the festive period is a busy time for Lucy, so it's important that her home is a relaxing, cosy space. 

See more real home transformations and more things Christmas on our dedicated hub pages.

Cotswold house Christmas in snow

(Image credit: Malcom Menzies)
THE STORY

Who lives here?  Lucy (right) and Richard Greaves. Lucy is the director of The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds, and Richard owns a chemical company. The couple have four grown-up sons and two grandchildren – Cleofé, two, and Finley, just two months old.
Property  The house, a former estate manager’s home built in around 1850, is part of a country estate, near Chipping Norton. There are six bedrooms and three reception rooms.
What they did  The couple did mainly decorative work, painting walls, adding soft furnishings and hanging curtains to make it their own.

Lucy Greaves loves Christmas; it’s her favourite time of year. As soon as one year’s festivities are over, she’s busy planning the next, from January right through to November. Christmas shopping is her year-round pursuit. 

It’s not that she’s a crazy Christmas lady – far from it – but for the past 30 years Lucy has masterminded The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds from her Oxfordshire home. It takes place in early November and there are over 200 stallholders selling all kinds of crafted goods including: fashion, homeware, art, crafts, foods and drinks.

Cotswold Christmas house

A fresh wreath from Foscot Wreaths and a lantern from Hector Finch adorn the canopied front door. Valspar’s Open Skies is a similar shade to that used for the woodwork

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘Everything I’ve always done has been for charity,’ says Lucy, explaining the concept of the fair. ‘It’s a bit like buying a charity Christmas card – if you’re buying gifts, why not buy them from somewhere that gives a proportion of the price you pay to charity? If you saw it on a website it would be the same price, or more, but at the fair 10 per cent goes to WellChild, which helps seriously ill children and their families.’

Cotswold Christmas house

Simple cabinetry in teal provides a good contrast with the rustic floor; for similar units, try Thomas & Thomas. Fired Earth’s Turkish Blue paint is a similar shade and the company’s Lubelska brick flooring would give a similar look. For granite worktops and splashbacks, try Gerald Culliford. Many of the accessories here were bought at The Christmas Fair, including the tall jug, from Made by Hands

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Lucy started the event in her previous home, inviting a few friends and a handful of makers, but the event has grown so big it now takes place in one of the fields at Daylesford Organic Farm. 

Christmas kitchen

The kitchen is exactly as it was when Richard and Lucy moved into the house, with its huge Aga set into the inglenook. The old table came from Stable Antiques, with chairs from Lucy’s parents, and the stool from Richard’s family. Seasonal treats supplied by Daylesford

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

As the fair was growing, so Lucy’s family grew and about 20 years ago she and husband Richard found themselves looking for a home with more space for their four young boys. When the village butcher told them about this country house tied to the local estate, they couldn’t believe their luck. 

Cotswold Christmas house

Symmetry in the living room with twin sofa tables and sofas from Lucy’s grandparents. Lucy had the sofas reupholstered in velvet from Mulberry Home. The cushions are by Chelsea Textiles and Josephine Rossi, the mirror is from Stable Antiques, and the garland is from Foscot Wreaths. The coffee table belonged to Lucy’s parents. The table-leg lamp bases are from Stable Antiques. Mince pies and cake from Daylesford

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘I always wanted a big family and a large family home with space for lots of parties, and this was perfect. I love being out in the country,’ says Lucy. The family moved from a compact cottage with just two bedrooms, to one with many more rooms to furnish, and Lucy soon became adept at trawling antiques markets, auctions and secondhand stores for the right pieces of furniture to fill the space, which she’d then have reupholstered or restored to give them a new lease of life.

Cotswold Christmas house

A roaring fire transforms the hall into a cosy extra room. The faux-fur throw is from Cotswold Grey, and the wreath from Foscot Wreaths

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

She became quite a regular at her local auctions. ‘The dealers didn’t like the competition,’ she says. ‘If you’re bidding against a dealer, you know you’ve got a good buy, because they’re only going to put it in their shop and double the price, but there was no way I was going to have priceless antiques here. It had to be comfortable, and withstand family life.’ 

Cotswold Christmas house

The family have their Christmas tree in the hall. The curtains were made by Josephine Rossi with a chenille heading from V V Rouleaux, and hung on a waxed banister pole. The rug came from Istanbul

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Lucy’s quest for unique products and makers for the fair became an extension of her sourcing items for her own home. ‘I wouldn’t choose things for the fair that I wouldn’t be delighted to own myself,’ she says, ‘and in fact I’ve often bought things for my house from the fair, or tried things out here to see how they appealed to friends and family before booking them as stallholders.’ 

Cotswold Christmas house

The dining room dressed for a seasonal celebration. Both the table and sideboard are from Stable Antiques, and the two lamps are from India Jane. The painting on the right is of Richard’s great-grandfather, on the left is one of Lucy’s ancestors

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

How does that impact on this very traditional country estate home? With accessories from so many different makers, and furniture and furnishings from salerooms and antiques markets, there’s a danger the overall look could be somewhat eclectic, even disparate. However, the impression is calm and harmonious – partly due to the neutral backdrop of warm white walls that Lucy favours, creating a blank canvas to which she can add new cushions and fabrics to refresh the look. 

Cotswold Christmas house

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

She has an excellent eye for interior design and a particularly elegant style. She calls it ‘modern classic – quite traditional but with a contemporary angle,’  adding, ‘I try not to have too much. I’ve got pictures everywhere, particularly of the boys, but that’s because this is essentially a family home more than anything else.’ 

Cotswold Christmas house

The bedside tables in the master bedroom are from India Jane, with two china lamp bases from Tingewick Pottery, topped with shades from John Lewis. On the bed is a striped throw with pompoms by Maud Interiors; the bedlinen is from The White Company. The armchair is a family piece, with a cushion from Oka and a throw from Bernice and Camilla Cashmere. The chaise longue was an auction buy and the Sumak rug came from Istanbul. Josephine Rossi made the silk dupion curtains with fan edging from V V Rouleaux

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

The contemporary edge comes from her constant updates to the rooms with new accessories bought at the fair. 

When the gates close on this year’s fair, Lucy will take a deep breath and start planning her own family’s Christmas. ‘We’ll have my daughter-in-law Lauren’s family here from Canada, with her three siblings and their families, her parents, our four boys and their partners, and our two grandchildren,’ she says. 

Cotswold Christmas house

The tallboy was an auction buy – on top are two  vintage leather suitcases. The dressing table is from Stable Antiques, its seat an antique piano stool covered with ticking stripe fabric from Ian Mankin

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

‘But I love having the family around me, I adore entertaining and I love Christmas. This house is perfect for all those things.’ And, of course, it won’t be long before Lucy is back in Christmas mode and starting to make choices about the stalls for next year.

Cotswold Christmas house

The bath side is painted to match the marble tiles. The one-sided stool was an auction find, the toile cushion is from Josephine Rossi, and for similar floor tiles try Gerald Culliford.

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

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