Decorating an Old House at Christmas

Dining room at Christmas

Dining room at Christmas

There’s nothing quite like an old house at Christmas. In my last post I mentioned that many old houses are winter houses. This owes a lot to the fact that they have millwork, often dark in colour, and the windows are not often large which makes the rooms feel a bit darker but cozy too. This is a corner of our dining room. The fabric on the left of the picture is what I used for our “portiere”. Portieres are traditional curtains that separate two rooms and they typically were made of very heavy tapestry – like fabrics (unlike window treatments which were usually lighter.) The colours in our dining room and living room are gold, deep red and green. With a colour scheme like that it does not take much effort to decorate for Christmas! I don’t like a lot of clutter so there isn’t a lot of Christmas paraphenelia in our house but I do like greens. Some are real, some are not. The ones shown here (except for the poinsettias) are not real because they would not survive the season. I save the real greens (taken from our own trees) for the end.

The stairwell at Christmas

This next picture does not show much in the way of Christmas decor because of the angle of the photo. I used greens and small white lights on the stair railings. Some years I really go all out and use ribbons and hanging decorations. Other years I choose a simpler look.

For this look I tied the greens to the hand rail with a burgundy ribbon and I placed large gold “leaves” in between each swag. Unfortunatelly I don’t have a close up photo so it is almost impossible to see the leaves. Clear crystal drops (from an antique light fixture) hang from each swag. To the left of the stairs is a large mirror which gets a swag of greens and fruit and pine cones – I love pine cones. Each year I am torn between a rustic country style and a more elegant Victorian style for Christmas – so I mix them up. It’s why I use a green and red checked wool cloth on our dining room table. It keeps the room from taking itself too seriously. This year I bought some of those inexpensive battery – operated faux candles that flicker like the real thing. In the past I have to admit I “pooh-poohed” the idea of using them but they actually do give a nice glow and they are perfect in places where having a real candle would be dangerous.

Christmas Lights

We finally have a kitchen to decorate this year. Other years we pretty much ignored the kitchen – partly because we just did not spend any time there unless we had to. Cold winter days meant making sure we had nothing in our cupboards that could freeze otherwise the contents would explode. It also meant having to run our dishes under hot water before putting food on them otherwise our food would get cold before we even ate it. I put garlands of greenery on each doorway and over the windows. I did the same over the “china cabinet” and on the sideboard. My favorite stuffed Rudolph is keeping my tin dog company next to baskets of pine cones and berries. The window has a simple red berry wreath and because we don’t have a window treatment we can see the bright coloured lights outside. My husband loves the big old Christmas lights even though LED lights would be less costly to operate. The colour of our 40 year old lights can’t be beat however – they are brilliant and can be seen for blocks.

I really do love heritage homes – and during the Christmas season there’s nothing that can compare the feeling you get with an old house.