My goodness, Christmas takes magazine shoots to a whole new level of styling and creativity! I remember last year when Naomi (Jones Homes) and Rob (Sanderson) came to photograph my cottage, I had to put so much more work into getting it ready than the previous summer shoot for Period Living magazine. One has to clean, tidy (hide most of life’s rich tapestry), probably repaint the hallway to cover the certain height fingermarks and muddy welly stains – just our ‘rustic cottage’ style? One also has to festively decorate, as much as possible and as beautifully as possible (not just chucking some berried Ivy on top of the dresser – my go to christmas styling!
Thankfully both the homeowners on these shoots are stylists so our job was made very easy (well- I was almost redundant – I held a few candles and took some behind the scenes shots!!). Each home had been styled beautifully, full of Christmas cheer, tablescapes of eye roving joy and rooms of decor envy. Our only job was to make sure that each room worked well for specific “scenes” for the magazine features whilst Rob valiantly fought the fading winter light through his lens of magic.
Our first incredible home covered today was “The Maltings” owned by the most beautiful couple Ben and Luke Gibbons who have lavished time, blood, sweat and incredible taste on this beautiful old building. I have written about this historical gem before on here earlier this year but I returned with my bosses (Naomi and Rob!) to photograph this incredible home at Christmas and make it magazine famous.
Ben had decorated every single room meticulously, using a woodland rustic theme than ran from the dried orange slices and pine cones in the kitchen all the way through to the fir cones and greenery in the bathroom. We (well Naomi and Rob – I just chatted to beautiful Ben about the amazing parties that he creates and styles and moved a couple of chairs -) started in the kitchen, Ben had prepared a feast of food and cocktails so it was simply a case of moving objects to create pretty vignettes.
The Aga was already beautifully decorated so Naomi was able to create a simple scene using candles to create more of a glow and add a little extra interest to the scene. Fizz was poured into beautiful glasses and the kitchen arranged for a pre supper drink and nibbles.
Karen (Flowersandlifestylebymargot) was asked to add some of her amazing flowers to the Ben’s beautiful table in the dining room and after Naomi had removed two respective place settings to create more space, I was charged with adding a little extra Christmas glam to the table. Ben has exquisite taste and has created parties oozing glamour and sophistication so this was a little daunting.
His table already looked beautiful and I was fearful of ruining his calm elegance so I simply elongated the central garland, inserting a tiny hint of gold branch under more Scottish pine branches so that the whole table was covered from edge to edge..
I added in the gorgeous Vintage List crystal glasses for a sparkle of glamour and Karen created the most beautiful centrepiece that echoed the gorgeous garland that Ben had made above the open hearth
Whilst Karen and I were burning the dining room, Naomi and Rob decided to completely destroy the sitting room!
I demanded that Naomi explain herself (ok- she had already asked Ben and he had always wanted to rearrange the room in the way that Naomi suggested but it sounds much more dramatic like that):
When Rob and I were trying to work out the angle for the main shot we struggled to find it as the sofas were arranged in an L-shape with the tv diagonally opposite the door so it was the first thing you saw when you walked in the room. I always love sofas facing each other, especially when you’re expecting company, it’s more sociable if you’re planning a night with music and chatter. So we removed the tv and swung the larger sofa under the window so that Ben and his family can see each other better, and our main shot would feature the front of the large sofa and not just the back and arm. Luckily this change around was quick and easy as Ben had put protective pads on the feet so we could just slide the furniture into position. When we were done, the room felt welcoming and elegant with no tv and a very inviting sofa ready for guests.
Karen and I left Naomi and Rob to photograph their destruction and set off upstairs to ruin the bedrooms.
It really didn’t need improving so we simply added more texture with my Sophie Allport bee blanket (Ben adores bees so it felt appropriate!) on the bed to create a more interesting photo and added some beautifully wrapped by Ben Christmas presents to lend an air of guest glamour.
Naomi calmed my layering and placed the sheepskin rug from Wildash London on the floor for underfoot luxury. A folded blanket for extra guest comfort and photo texture, an antique book for more eye interest, a small vase from Karen and an additional bee pencil drawing from to replace a personal photo frame and match the incredible bee drawings by Louisa Crispin on the back wall and the room was magazine ready.
The guest bedroom was our next port of call. Thankfully Ben had again decorated beautifully so with a touch more fairy light sparkle and some richer colours on the bed we were guest room magazine shot ready!!!
The final room was the stunning new bathroom that Ben and Luke put in recently. This needed the simple addition of fairy lights and fluffy towels from the fabulous Soak and Sleep and our jobs were done (admittedly they were done before we even set foot in this incredible house!).
Thank you so much Ben and Luke for allowing us to come into your truly beautiful home. You have lavished blood, sweat and exquisite taste on this stunning house and it shines through every room. From the moment one drives through this tiny village green and enters this calm haven of beauty to the moment one is gently but firmly put back into one’s car, there is a sense of peace and well being which is so very important to us all now. Happy Christmas wonderful people.
With thanks to all the companies who helped to create these magical Christmas Cottages:
Wildash London – 15% off with “COSYCOTTAGE15”
Sophie Allport – 15% off with “MERRYREBECCA15”
Enid dress from Baukjen – 15% off with “COTTAGE15”
Thank you to Naomi Jones and Rob Sanderson for inviting me on more styling adventures and to Karen for her incredible flowers.
Look out for next weeks blog on the second Christmas Cottage Shoot published on Wednesday xxxx