As part of our countdown to Christmas, we caught up with interior design guru and Christmas-lover Alison Cork to find out what the festive season means to her, and what treats she has in store for us in the coming months. Over to you Alison…
I always remember the excitement of seeing the battered cardboard box come out of the top cupboard when I was a child. It had a distinctive whisky logo on the side in the shape of a ship, and a slightly musty smell, which I liked to think was the alcohol. It only came out once a year, and that could only mean one thing – my mother had decided we were preparing for Christmas.
She would very carefully lift the box down and undo the string that kept its increasingly frail sides together. Gingerly she would open the top and start to lift out the carefully wrapped baubles. Some were protected by ageing newspaper, others by soft tissue that seemed to be disintegrating before my eyes. But as the wrapping fell away, the sparkling magnificence of the multicoloured decorations could begin to be seen in all their splendour. These were our family heirlooms.
My grandmother was German – as you may know the Germans do Christmas in a big way – and hers were glamorous baubles with raised glitter and pearl detailing, in a multitude of hues from jade green to deep fuchsia pink. They had proper metal tops and felt as if they were made from the thinnest glass imaginable. We were always terrified of breaking them, although I loved the distinctive, almost musical sound they made when they inadvertently clinked together. When one did shatter, I was fascinated by its eggshell thin pieces.
So to this day I feel a sense of excitement when I see a festive decoration, and when I began working with QVC, I practically begged to be allowed to start with a Christmas collection.
These days my approach to decorating is in some ways the same – I love a bit of glamour, texture and the energy that glass and reflective surfaces can bring to an interior.
When I started planning my Christmas collection I thought about all aspects – tree baubles, lights, votives – but also the decorative accessories that can be introduced that little bit earlier in the season – candlesticks, decorative faux branches, candles and lanterns, so that you can build a momentum to the big day!
I think your home should feel special all year round, so it’s no longer about getting down the box once a year. Building layer upon layer into your interior scheme can be done throughout the year, then adding the really festive touches closer to the date.
On that note, I have introduced some pretty French furniture into the range, and come November we will have a supremely comfortable and romantic hand-carved oak chair, along with a coffee table (pictured above) and side table (pictured below). I love the curvy lines and delicate legs – it’s the perfect backdrop to my interior accessories.
Apart from the tree and baubles themselves, candles are the one interiors accessory I couldn’t do without at Christmas (or any time of year for that matter) and so they also feature heavily in my collections. This year we have some wonderful votive holders, hurricane lamps and lanterns.
I also love the glitter branches that look so eye catching when arranged in vases – I have mine out all year round at home and they really liven up a dark corner.
But Christmas is also a time for fun, and this year’s piece de resistance is the collection of almost life size sequin greyhounds. They sold out the first time we went to air, and are just magnificent, and very unusual.
Last but by no means least, my glitter trees have proved a massive hit, and I can honestly say that they are superb – versatile, glamorous and easy to set up and take down. They look great just on their own with their built in LED lights, or adorned with baubles.
There are so many pieces I’m not sure I have one favourite, but I will admit to loving the woodland foil print cushion – it’s a perfect example of how to inject excitement, elegance and a little bit of sparkle at any time of year.
A beautiful home is forever, not just for Christmas.
Thanks for that wonderfully festive blog, Alison! Check out the full Alison Cork range here