Real home: 7 festive ideas to steal from this elegant 1930s home

Gemma loves Christmas, and you can tell. With fun festive ideas at every corner, we're revealing our favourite features so you can recreate the look at home

grey kitchen with white paper Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Ask Gemma what her favourite time of year is, and she won’t hesitate to tell you that it’s Christmas. ‘I absolutely love it – I just get so excited about it,’ she says. ‘I’ve even been known to have two Christmas trees!’ 

And Christmas is the time of year where our homes really take center stage. They’re the backdrop to everything from present unwrapping to turkey cooking and sofa slouching, so it’s no wonder that the first Christmas in a newly renovated home is often a momentous occasion. 

Take a look through these Christmas decorating ideas from this stylish home.

The profile

The owners Gemma Mahabeer, sales manager at an international fashion brand, and Navin Mahabeer, a relocation consultant, live here with their children, Arlo, four, and Mabel, 18 months, and their sausage dog, Frank

The property A 1930s double-fronted detached four bedroom house in Buckinghamshire

Project cost Around £260,000

Having previously lived just down the road in an already-renovated cottage, Gemma and Navin had their hearts set on a project that would give them, their children, Arlo and Mabel, and their sausage dog, Frank, a lot more space. ‘We didn’t want to move away from the area as it’s just a really lovely place to live, being close to both London and the countryside,’ Gemma says.

They found their perfect home, and now that all the renovation work is done, Gemma has gone to town with her Christmas decor. We're here to show you how to recreate her festive look.

1. Hang delicate fairy lights around your pictures 

elegant living room with a green velvet sofa, nest of tables and `Christmas decorations

Sofa, Love Your Home. Footstool, Danetti. Coffee table, Cult Furniture. Rug, Amaz & Soul. Prints, Art Art Art.

Back wall painted in Purbeck Stone and chimney in Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Add some extra twinkle by positing some elegant, dainty fairy lights above your picture frames, just like Gemma has done here. Choose battery powered lights so you don't have to ruin to the look with a long wire reaching to your plug. 

This coffee table wreath also makes for a great centrepiece. Simply position some candlesticks inside the wreath and you're all set. 

2. Choose colored candlesticks for a dinner table feature

dining room dressed up for Christmas with a Christmas tree and candlesticks

Dining table, Heal’s. Dining chairs, Mobelaris. Sideboard, Swoon. Table garland, Dunelm. Ceiling light, West Elm. Art print, Sash Designs. Walls painted in Strong White and Down Pipe, Farrow & Ball. Flooring, Heywood Vloeren at Spacers Tile & Wood Flooring

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Christmas table settings can be tricky to get right. This year, we've seen candlesticks gain a whole new groove with vibrant colors and twirly shapes. 

Whatever color and shape you choose, laying candlesticks down the center of your dining table will always bring a regal feel; an unmistakable air of grandeur that's extra special for Christmas day. 

Drape some flora and fauna at a low level along your table for a simple Christmas table centerpiece (so your guests can still see each other across the table) and light your candles just before your guests sit down for a magical glow.

3. Liven up your hallway with garlands of all kinds 

grey hallway with patterned flooring and christmas decorations

Walls painted in Purbeck Stone; woodwork, Mole’s Breath; banister, Off Black, all Farrow and Ball. Paper decorations, Pretty Little Party Shop

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

At Christmas time, no staircase bannister should be left without a Christmas garland, fact. As the first thing your guests see when they walk through the door, your hallway set the tone for the rest of your home, so ensure it sets the best first impression.

Even if your bannister is on the smaller side like Gemma's, a garland is enough to brighten up the whole space. And you can make it personal by tying on some baubles.


Architect Simon Coles 

Builder L&K Builders,

Kitchen carpenters, MLB Carpentry & Joinery
Office cladding, desk & shelves Pine Cottage

Steel doors Fabco Sanctuary

Top tip: use paperclips to attach your baubles to your garland. This ensures they're securely fastened and leaves enough ribbon for your baubles to hang nicely.

This paper garland, hung haphazardly from the coat rack, in a lovely copper hue, adds some warmth to the grey scheme.

4. Position your tree so you can see it from multiple rooms

living room with Christmas tree and candlesticks with built in grey shelving

Sofa, Dwell. Rug, La Redoute. TV, Samsung. Built-in shelving, made by MLB Carpentry. Walls painted n Strong White
and Down Pipe,
Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Open plan homes can be a lot to decorate over Christmas - the large expansive space leaving you with so much room to fill. If this is the case for you, we suggest positioning your tree right in the centre of your space, so you can see it from all over. 

Here, Gemma's Christmas tree idea is visible from the family room, the dining room and even the kitchen. Ensure to decorate your tree all the way around.

5. Hang paper decorations above your kitchen island 

grey and white shaker kitchen with white paper decorations hanging from the ceiling

Kitchen units, Handmade Kitchens of Christchurch. Work surface, Nile Trading. Sink, Villeroy & Boch. Tap, Perrin & Rowe. Vase, Rosey Wood Interiors. Garland, Amazon. Paper decorations, The Paper Snowflake Company

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen over Christmas, so take heed from Gemma and give your kitchen the top notch festive decor it deserves. 

Hang large paper decorations above your kitchen island (or anywhere for that matter) to add instant wow factor to your space. 

At around £15 for a large design, they're a fairly low cost, high impact solution that you'll bring out year after year. But don't hang them directly above your hob, for obvious reasons.

6. Wrap a Christmas garland around your headboard 

white bedroom with marble effect sheets, christmas garland and presents

Bed and floor light, Made. Art prints, I Am Fy.  Bedlinen, Urban Outfitters. Chunky knit throw made by Gemma. Rug, Rug Love. Lights, B&Q. Walls painted in Brilliant White, Dulux

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Bring some festive cheer to your bedroom too by hanging a Christmas garland along your head board. This is an especially nice idea if you've got guests staying for the festive period, to make your guests bedrooms feel extra welcoming. 

Wind some fairy lights around your garland too to make the space feel extra cosy. We've got a few bedroom Christmas light ideas you could try out yourself.

7. Make a decorative feature out of the kids' stockings 

nursery with bold green zig zag wallpaper and pink accessories

Wallpaper, Vector in Mist by Scion. Cot, Stokke.
Floor light and armchair, both
Ikea. Houndstooth cushion, Laura Ashley. Cloud cushion, Mamas & Papas. Prints, Rory & The Bean

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Gemma's chosen a color coordinating Christmas stocking for her daughter Mabel, and it adds just enough Christmas joy to her pretty nursery. 

Kids Christmas toys, such as this fairy, are also a two in one way to up the festive factor in their space, and keep them entertained. 

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Amelia Smith
Content Editor

After joining Real Homes as content producer in 2016, Amelia has taken on several different roles and is now content editor. She specializes in style and decorating features and loves nothing more than finding the most beautiful new furniture, fabrics and accessories and sharing them with our readers. As a newbie London renter, Amelia’s loving exploring the big city and mooching around vintage markets to kit out her new home.