As the weather turns colder and the nights draw in we tend to spend more time indoors. Winter is definitely our busiest time of year as people turn their attention to their home and want to spruce things up. This is our perspective on how to get your home feeling cosy and inspiring over the winter.
Get some art on your walls
When I was a kid we used to drive to Granny and Grand P’s house every Christmas Eve Eve (23rd). The drive from Dorset to Hampshire begun around dusk when many curtains are still open allowing us kids to briefly spy into golden-lit front rooms as we whizzed past. This allowed us to play “Spot the Christmas Tree” – and whoever saw the most and best decorated would win. I still do this sometimes, but these days I notice more than just the trees. The houses with framed artwork on the walls are always the most inviting. The few without any art just look stark and sorry and joyless. So our number 1 tip is get some art up. Even if it’s just a few inexpensive posters blue-tacked to the wall, it’ll really do wonders for the whole look and feel of the room.
Christmas is a great time to year to buy art, as there tends to be all sorts of exciting exhibitions on. This year our home town, Frome, boasts an array of exhibitions showing a mixture of artworks catering to all budgets and tastes. Kobi & Teal have their winter exhibition Three Point Turn on with a brilliant showcase of contemporary artists. Over at Why Gallery there’s Chris Pig’s beautiful prints as well as all manner of affordable prints by British and local artists. Black Swan Arts has two shows: Corinna Sargood is excellent, and the Roundtower hosts the Black Swan Guild, with a range of affordable and collectable art for sale. Andelli Art near Wells is our go-to place to buy collectable contemporary and 20thC art and ceramics. Their current exhibition “Wishlist” looks like a real treat and we hope we can visit before the show ends (21st Dec). It features one of our favourite pieces we framed this year (Mary Fedden MBE).
If you need help to put your pictures up on the wall, give us a call because we’ve got a new expanded art installation service including complex salon hangs, and installation of hanging systems to allow for easy swapping over of artworks. A lot of our clients aren’t very confident with hanging their framed art, and many resort to inappropriate picture hooks from DIY shops that risk coming loose if used in the wrong wall material. So if you want peace of mind that your heavy frames aren’t going to fall from the wall over Christmas (especially if you’ve got little kids around) then please let us know and we can help.
Foliage and greenery
The custom of bringing greenery like Christmas trees into the home goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years to pagan times. Plants and flowers bring joyful colour and divine scents into the home, giving us a boost in sensory experience that can otherwise be missing during the cold winter months. As a kid we’d usually go to one of my Aunt’s for Boxing Day and I always remember the amazing centrepieces of their banquet tables (I have a collection of rich aunts, all of whom really know how to “do” Christmas!). The centrepieces were always fresh foliage, I guess mostly harvested from their gardens with little jewels of colour provided by local florists. Bramble & Wild is my favourite local florist. They make the most glorious Christmas wreaths too, including minimalist ones. These are really catching on and seem to be a growing trend. Another big trend is for houseplants, and in today’s increasingly throwaway world many people are ditching their wasteful Christmas tree in favour of a living plant display that will last on and on beyond Christmas. Pilea Plant pop up shop at the top of Catherine Hill is the perfect place to stock up on houseplants.
With your Christmas table centrepiece sorted (see above) you’ll want to dress that table on-point. Our brains respond to change and we get inspired and excited whenever presented with something out of the ordinary, so using different tableware from your plain old normal stuff can really boost your experience. I walk past Resident Store every day on my way to work and have clocked their beautiful range of glassware from Ferm Living. Kobi & Teal also stock some beautiful and inexpensive glassware from The Atlas Works. Frome’s many charity shops are also worth checking, as they often have amazing retro glass and tableware. Another great idea is to borrow some tableware from Frome’s Share Shop: this is a great way of injecting a bit of novelty into your home over the Christmas season without having to go crazy on consumerism.
Candles are a must for any winter home. I’m sure we have ancestral memory: like swallows bred in captivity and then released know instinctively how to migrate. Fire is in our ancestral memory and when we see a gentle candle flame we know we’re safe and warm, and our ancient brain understands exactly what’s going on (as opposed to the overwhelming input from screens that puts that part of our brain on edge). Scented candles can really add to the cosy winter experience. We want to give a shout-out here to the Botanical Candle company, which has a shop in Shaftesbury. We grew up near Shaftesbury so the town has a special place in our hearts and is definitely worth visiting over Christmas. The company started from humble roots and have grown organically, all the candles are soy-based and handmade, and they have an online store which means you can buy from them wherever you live.
Tapestries and weavings
Tapestries and weavings inject colour and softness into the home, whether you use them as functional rugs, or hang them as art (on a per square metre basis rugs can be a cost-effective way of installing larger-scale art on your walls). We love Denman Gould’s small tapestries for sale at Kobi & Teal and Elementum in Sherborne.
Resident Store stocks some lovely contemporary Kelim rugs. For traditional kelims, tapestries and throws the wonderful World Basket store on Catherine Hill is excellent. Head over to Corinna Sargood’s exhibition at Black Swan Arts to see just how far tapestry can be pushed into an artform. We’ve framed a lot of different tapestries, this one was our favourite imported in from South America. If you’re getting a tapestry framed by someone other than us, make sure the framer knows to use reversable stitching techniques when mounting and never ever use any kind of glue or tape.
Happy Christmas and New Year! Stay warm, cosy and inspired.