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.’
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Owners: Sallyanne Hutchinson, co-founder of luxury interiors brand Howat & Hutchinson (opens in new tab), 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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.