Welcome to my newly renovated London sitting room - and welcome to Christmas! This shoot is not only the big reveal of this room, but also my response to Amara's challenge to style their Kitschmas trend (one of the luxury online retailer's four Christmas trends for 2017, and definitely the one best suited to The Pink House's aesthetic). I do love multitasking.
This room is kind of a big deal for me and The Pink House. It's the first room I've finished renovating (well - nearly finished; just the windows, wiring, art, handles, etc etc to go...) in my new London home, since me and my fellow Pink House Dwellers moved here from Edinburgh four months ago. I won't lie: I've felt the pressure to get my new home photo-ready as quickly as possible, while making sure the room is as fabulous as possible, and functional for family life.
When I say 'family life', I obviously mean 'me'. The Pink House Dwellers (both small and large) are only allowed in this particular room after their hands have been inspected for mud/chocolate/unidentifiable smegma, and they can prove they're not carrying any food, drink or mess-making toys. I learned my lesson on the latter after a nasty incident involving one of my gorgeous snugglers and the 7yo's magnetic putty (yes that's a thing) which he managed to sit on while watching telly in this room, ruining his trousers and staining the sofa; thank goodness for reversible seat pads.
But you're not here to listen to me bang on about my grubby little boys - you're after a room tour, right? Luckily, I have a whole host of photos taken by the fabulous Susie Lowe to show you. And while I'll credit the decor as I go (with a full click-through list of the Amara items I used in the shoot at the bottom of the post), might I just say upfront how grateful I am to Hayford & Rhodes, the wonderful florist that supplied the stunning flowers for this shoot (check out their gorgeous seasonal wreaths, tables centres and bouquets HERE).
OK then...off we go!
Let's start with the big picture, before I drill down into decor details further on. In these pics you can see some of the biggest changes I made to this room, including removing the laminate and sanding the original floorboards, uncovering a scorch mark on the floor near the fireplace in the process. The Pink House Husband doesn't like it (messy), but I don't mind - it's proof of the house's history. I enjoy imagining what might have happened to create that mark (an over-enthusiastic festive fire? a waffle iron left lying for too long?), and who the guilty party might have been ('Egbert! Straight to your room!'). I'd so much rather have an imperfect house that feels lived in, than an impersonal showroom that tries to pretend people don't live in houses.
This desire to feel the history of the house was behind my decision to reinstate the ornate cornicing and add a ceiling rose. I can't recommend Cornice London highly enough - they have a huge range of plaster cornice designs, organised by era. I chose this egg-and-dart design as it is typical Edwardian, but also because it's very similar to the cornice we had in our previous Edinburgh home. And of course because it's pretty!
I had the alcove shelves built out of MDF by the excellent Lee at Freeborn Carpentry, which were then painted the same Farrow & Ball Hague Blue as the rest of the room, and lined with Designers Guild Cielo rose wallpaper, to give a sunset effect and match the blush pink velvet curtains (which you'll see in a minute). It's like they've always been there. I also love how they're the same pinky-lilac as the background to my beloved Bowie print by Rugman (an artist who happens to be best mates with Tom Hardy, not that this has any bearing at all on my desire to be buddies with him, no way). It is a little small for the space over the mantelpiece, but I'm currently trawling eBay for a pair of vintage brass candle sconces to go either side of it, in which I plan to insert hot pink candles (obvs).
OK, so how do you fancy a bit of before-and-after?
I don't have quite the same camera angle (and the before photo is an estate agent pic from when we bought the house), but I assure you it IS the same room. You'll have seen the Christopher Farr-covered sofa bed, Sofas & Stuff Haresfield snugglers and 'Ain't Nobody Got Time For That' cushion in my Edinburgh home, But nearly everything else in this room is new to The Pink House. And of course those OMG dusky pink velvet curtains by The London Curtain Girls. Never in my life have I loved a curtain (or two curtains) more. If I could sleep in them I would. So much is there to say on these beauties, in fact, that I'm going to save it for a dedicated blog post, coming soon.
In fact, there IS one more piece of furniture in the shot above that I had in my last house, and that's the corner drinks cabinet. Can't remember even seeing it? Well, that's partly because it was hidden in a dark corner of the dining room, and partly because it used to be an unappealing dark brown, but has now been totally transformed by the luxecycling genius that is Zoe from Muck n Brass. I asked her to cover the cabinet in Kelly Green and gold and this was the fabulous result.
Can we just take a moment to welcome the pretty-in-pink new cushion additions to this room? These include the super-soft Palmier Elizabeth Scarlett velvet cushion in Rosewater (as seen on the snuggler above), and the hot pink Silken Favours Cactus Combustibale cushion (as seen on the other snuggler). The Pink House Husband says his feelings about each of them are 'neutral at best'.
Now - on to the Christmas styling!
Amara's Kitschmas trend ticks all of my Christmas decor boxes: Pink - tick! Irreverent - tick! Luxurious - tick! Shiny and sparkly - tick! Confectionary-as-Christmas-theme - tick! This made choosing from the wide selection of decor deliciousness very difficult, as you can imagine. But choose I did.
I started with this Grandis Fir tree from Amara's collection. I've always been a real tree kind of girl, but I tell you, this evergreen has turned me to the art(ificial) side. I couldn't BELIEVE how realistic it was; even up close you'd be hard pressed to guess it wasn't alive. And of course there are the huge benefits of a) not being spiked a thousand times while hanging the decorations, b) not having to hoover afterwards (I don't even know where the hoover IS, let alone how to change its bag), and c) not finding pine needles in your socks in June. And I didn't miss the lack of scent, thanks to these dreamy scented Laduree candles (which smell like parma violets), and this one from Bella Freud (which actually SAYS 'Art' on it - perhaps it was designed to be paired with an art-ificial tree? Just a thought...).
In the shot above you can see a few of my fave tree decs - these ice cream cones; these sweetie jars, and - perhaps my favourite of all - this Battenberg cake. I love that someone in the decoration-making department said, 'Hey Colin, you know that cake - what's it called again - the pink and yellow one with marzipan?', and Colin said, 'Battenberg! I loved that cake as a kid, Dave!' and Dave said, 'Well, let's take the Battenberg and make it out of sparkly stuff and add a blue velvet ribbon and then everyone can hang it on their tree and remember being a kid and not having to cook Christmas dinner!' and Colin said, 'It's genius! Let's make loads!'
Also this pretty pink Cadillac car, above, is the perfect combo of nostalgia (old fashioned car; snow-covered tree) and contemporary (it's a pink car on a Christmas tree innit). It seems to be unavailable on the Amara website right now, but I think I almost prefer this pink car decoration anyway...
Oh and how could I not mention this little pink dude, above? Mine and Sara Miller's crusade for the #flamoji continues, but for now I'll have to be content with having this one on my Christmas tree. Isn't he adorable?!
One of the things I love most about Christmas is the excuse to decorate every available surface with beautiful sparkly things. And the Pink House Husband can't even complain about the 'clutter' without sounding like a massive Scrooge. So let me show you some of the other ways I decorated this room...
Pink and blue is, as you can probably tell, one of my all-time-fave colour combinations. So the pairing of this Jonathan Adler blue malachite vase with the pink roses really got me going. I love this vase so much, in fact, that there are actually three of them dotted around the room for extra decadence. Can you spot them all (it's like a home decor Where's Wally)?
If you love flowers (and if you don't, what are you doing reading this post?), then vases are an excellent way to bring some extra-special festive sparkle into your home, without going down the traditional decor route. These turquoise-and-gold House Doctor beauties look magical filled with Hayford & Rhodes' so-pretty-I-might-have-a-little-cry blush pink roses. Sigh! I've also used these gold-and-glass tealight holders as mini bud vases. Obviously they'd also look fab with actual candles.
With the tree covered in sweets and treats, I thought I'd continue the sugary styling over the other side of the room. I used this Bloomingville side table as a base, and these pastel champagne saucers to hold the sweets (yes the sweets are real; yes I ate them all afterwards; no the kids never had a look in). Then I filled this glass bon-bon jar with baubles for extra colour and kitsch.
I was delighted when I heard that super-talented designer, all-round lovely person and fellow #flamoji campaigner Sara Miller was now selling her beautiful Sara Miller London ceramics (above) and other items through Amara. Click here to see the full range. The jewel-like colours pop so well against my dark blue walls.
So there you go! The full story of my sitting room's renovation, and how I used Amara's gorgeous decorations and home accessories to kitsch it up for Christmas.
If you're after inspiration on how to decorate during the festivities using fewer calories, might I suggest visiting Gold is a Neutral, 2LG Studio and Apartment Number 4, as each excellent blog has been tasked with styling one of Amara's other three Christmas trends. Cheers!
AMARA PRODUCTS USED IN THE SHOOT - CLICK-THROUGH LIST
This post was sponsored by Amara, but as always, all opinions are my own. If I don't like something, I won't write about it. If you're a brand looking to work with The Pink House, please contact The WaR Agency on firstname.lastname@example.org