Christmas house: an elegant Queen Anne home in the country

Combining warmth and elegance, tradition and modern family life can be tricky, but Sallyanne Hutchinson gets the balance just right in her 18th-century country home

This house lends itself to entertaining at any time but it really comes into its own at Christmas,’ says Sallyanne Hutchinson. ‘We have log fires burning in every fireplace and decorate with lights inside and out. It’s magical.’

Be inspired by their reinvented space or look at our other real home transformations and find out how to renovate a house in our guide.

See more Christmas houses on our dedicated page, too.

Project notes

Owners: Sallyanne Hutchinson, co-founder of luxury interiors brand Howat & Hutchinson, and partner Andrew Osborne, a property developer. 

Property: A Grade-II-listed Queen Anne house built in the early 1700s, near Oakham, Leicestershire. The house has seven bedrooms and four bathrooms, with extensive gardens and 12 acres of land. 

What they did: Refreshed the décor throughout, painting walls and adding soft furnishings

Sallyanne and her partner Andrew moved into the Queen Anne property six years ago, entranced by its elegant proportions and, more practically, the layout of the rooms. 

‘People talk about contemporary builds having “flow”, but this house proves that period properties can function really well for our modern, busy lifestyles,’ explains Sallyanne. 

The style is traditional, inspired by the couple’s love of the countryside. Sallyanne has freshened up the décor and used fabrics and paint to create a calming, friendly atmosphere. ‘I know that many people like the contrast of contemporary styling in a period setting but I didn’t want a cold or sterile environment, especially with three teenagers in the house,’ she admits.  

The traditional dining hall creates a grand entrance to the house – at Christmas, its red and green colour scheme sets the scene perfectly.

The mahogany dining table was bought at auction and seats up to 16 guests. Sallyanne designed the flatweave wool rug with twill border, and had it made by The Crucial Rug Store. The cabinet was a gift from Sallyanne’s parents. Walls are painted in French Gray by Farrow & Ball

"My approach is to team period furniture with up-to-date furnishings to create a comfortable family home"

Sallyanne Hutchinson

Sally compiled mood boards for each room, focusing on gentle tones of green, pink and putty, with flashes of red. ‘Each room has three paint colours – on the walls, the ceiling and the woodwork – and those are my starting point. I’ve used the same wall colour in the principal areas (kitchen, conservatory and hallway) for continuity. 

The table is set with a mix of old and new, coloured and clear glass. The plates are antique, while the green glasses are from Oka. The mahogany sideboard was another gift from Sallyanne’s parents, beneath which lurks a fox, a family heirloom

Next come the fabrics for the curtains and blinds,’ she explains. Finally, it’s time to position the furniture; a mix of inherited, new and antique purchases. ‘Once it’s in place, I don’t change it,’ she adds. ‘I’m not someone to tinker with a room. When it’s right, it’s right.’

This is Sallyanne’s favourite corner in the snug. The armchair is from Coach House, with a faux fur throw from Oka and a cushion from Mulberry Home. The lamp is from Laura Ashley and the curtains are made from Nevis fabric, also Mulberry Home, edged in velvet

That couldn’t be truer than in the snug, with its twin sofas covered with faux fur throws where the children get cosy, plus Sallyanne’s chair by the fire. ‘That’s my space,’ she laughs. ‘I have my reading light, magazines and a footstool. It’s perfect.’ But it’s the kitchen that is the hub of family life.

Sallyanne painted the kitchen walls in Matchstick by Farrow & Ball. The kitchen cabinets, fitted by the previous owners, are painted in House White, also by Farrow & Ball

Festive decorating starts in the second week of December, when Sallyanne trims the mantelpieces, using a mix of fresh boughs and faux garlands with fairy lights twined around them.  

The turquoise Aga was there when the couple moved in but Sallyanne sourced antique pitchers and Le Creuset stoneware in a similar shade

Bright red amaryllis, colourful cyclamen and bowls of bulbs add energy and life. ‘They bring a wonderful freshness to the house, especially in the wintertime when it can seem so cold and bleak outside,’ she says.

Cheerful bunting and an LED tree light up the conservatory. The rattan table and chair set is from Vale Garden Houses

The Christmas tree is the final touch, decorated by the family as they wait for the church bells to call them to the Christmas Eve carol service that marks the start of their celebrations.  

The family place their presents under the Christmas tree in the drawing room.  The console is one of a pair of George III Sheraton tables, and the painting above is of Andrew, by artist Jo Stockade

"Our Christmas is very traditional and a time for our extended family to come together, but we’ve created a home full of warmth and comfort that allows us to enjoy special times all year round."

Sallyanne Hutchinson

The house is filled with leather pieces from Sally's own Howat & Hutchinson label – trays and console tables, trunks and boxes – to which she adds scented candles, and sprigs of holly and berries for a seasonal feel

Sallyanne bought the pink silk for the curtains in Jaipur while on a working trip, and the blind fabric is by Colefax & Fowler. The beds, bedlinen and Christmas stockings are all from The White Company

 The period-style conservatory was added by the home’s previous owner

More Christmas gorgeousness to browse: