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This charming Sussex home takes a natural approach to Christmas decor

As the weather warms in the Antipodes, a nature-loving interior designer and her family in Sussex celebrate the cosy pleasures of an English Christmas

When searching for zero cost, sophisticated festive styling ideas, interior designer Maria Le Mesurier, the creative force behind WoodEdit, likes to make her home Christmas ready using nature’s best.

“Dressing our home for Christmas begins and ends with nature – it is the root of all inspiration for both life and work and defines my style,” says Maria. “The simple, natural palette evokes a quiet, reflective ambience, that with five children aged four-17, is both calming and surprisingly practical.”

In fact, the former 17th-century stable block that Maria shares with husband Paul at Uppark in West Sussex, has become synonymous with sculptural branches of seasonal foliage, which feature heavily all year round. “At Christmas, I love to supersize the look, with enormous fallen boughs of silver birch – gathered from surrounding woodland and entwined with twinkly fairy lights.”

Displayed alongside copious greenery, the look is super glam yet stylishly pared back – an ethos that extends to Maria’s wardrobe: always elegant one-piece boiler suits, dressed up with a faux-fur leopard print jacket – her guilty pleasure and the only acceptable ‘non-organic’ fabric that features.

Throughout the family’s welcoming home, textural layers curated by Maria, enhance the natural aesthetic: raw linen in various shades of tobacco, ochre and off white; basketry; handmade, grass animal heads; and one-off Italian ceramics that add decorative appeal. Not to mention the wooden furniture that lends a timeless, minimalist vibe.

As the creative director behind the family’s new furniture business, WoodEdit, that comes as no surprise: think robust oak, walnut and ash tables, benches, peg rails and accessories from the couple’s Core Collection – designed by Maria, crafted by Paul.

“For us celebrating Christmas is all about embracing time out together as a family: long walks, long, lazy suppers, flickering candlelight, cosy fires and always a festive Aperol spritz. We have a lot to be grateful for, celebrating the simple pleasures in life – for us less is always definitely more.”

Maria’s show-stoppers:

The tree: “A Nordmann fir dressed with simple white fairy lights, provides the perfect hallway welcome, if space allows. Throughout the rest of the house I favour scaled up silver birch, pine and olive branches.”

The fireplace mantel: “Created with thuja branches, known also as arborvitae – the tree of life, it is renowned for its homeopathic medicinal properties, and has a smell evocative of Christmas. The display is held together with simple twine – the trick is to not think too hard – just keep balancing branches until full.”

The wrapping: “Presents are always wrapped simply in brown paper and embellished with fresh sprigs of rosemary that scent the house beautifully. Often stacked in simple baskets brought back from Madeira, where my late father used to live – they bring back
happy childhood memories.”

The wreath: “Match the tones of your wreath to complement the shade of your front door colour. Made up of seasonally gathered foliage, the wreath can also be used as a great table centrepiece throughout the festive season. If left to dry out, they work well hung from a simple peg rail throughout the year.”

The finishing touch: “Use delicate branch offcuts to embellish your Christmas cake and festive food boards with a natural edge – it will unite the decorative look. Use sprigs of rosemary and mint to add aromatic appeal to festive cocktails and water jugs; or in a bedside vase for guests.”

Production by: Ali Heath. Photography by: Brent Darby/Living Inside

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