Well it’s mainly about the magazine shoot but lots of Christmas photos – ok?
Naturally I was over the moon when Interiors writer and Stylist Naomi Jones contacted me to ask if I was interested in a Christmas magazine shoot, I immediately had images of me reclining in red velvet, sipping probably a whisky to look cool – even though I don’t actually like whisky (unless it’s Baileys). Then reality set in: it’s not me! It’s the house! Brilliantly this only occurred to me just two weeks before the shoot which meant that I spent a fortnight cleaning, scrubbing, wailing, bemoaning and throwing most of the garden in the house in an effort to make it more Christmas Charismatic.
Ordinarily this happens later in the month when we host our Christmas Carols party. I invite all and sundry and their children and then begin to fret about decorating and food and mulled wine and songsheets approximately 3 days before the party. This time the pressure was greater: how to cover the indelibly cheerioed and tree rooted carpet (the roots had spread under the house and cracked the floor and walls in the sitting room), how to cover the walls and how to bring magazine worthy cheer to our rather rundown elderly cottage?
Thank goodness for wonderful creative people that I have met over the past few years. I stood on the doorstep of the Rug and Carpet Studio in Long Melford and wept tears of cracked carpets until the unbelievably generous and very sympathetic Sara took pity on my plight and lent me two stunning rugs. I spoke to the gorgeous Karen (@flowersandlifestylebymargot) who not only writes all the brilliant garden blogs on here but also sweetly made wreaths, garlands, sprays and the most exquisite floral display for the table. Then I harangued the beautiful and ridiculously talented Emma Perry and forced her to lend me lots of her paintings..
Next on my Party list would be food – ok ..”Lucy!!!!!! Help!!!!” . The fabulous Lucy Hoyle Cooks whipped up a myriad of mouth watering canapes and treats for la Bouche (French must be fancy) and created an air of inviting deliciousness and warming, mouth drooling aromas. I am a little furious that Dame La Aga behaved impeccably – why did she not burn the pastry? Why was the beef cooked but juicy? How were the sticky toffee squares moist and oozy and not chargrilled???
Necessities ticked, I began to fret about the actual house, I terrified my friends at Original Homewares into lend me some of their amazing vintage stock and grabbed the Asprey Jewellery cabinet that I have been salivating over ever since they put it up for sale on their website. I also begged for the cutest naieve vintage child’s chair and some fabulous galvanised planters.
I filled the cabinet with jewel like baubles (also borrowed from a variety of friends!!!) and copper lights which beautifully lit the original silk lining and fringing. Perfectly Christmassy!
I then quashed my beg borrow and steal rampage (most have yet to be returned – mwoah ha ha ha) and after a massive ‘oh throw it under the stairs in another bag, what do you mean it’s full, well put it in the loft’ clear out and I was able to begin the wonderful task of decorating. Garlands were created with the kindly help of my trees and berries, lights were strung, trees were chosen and decked and candles were placed everywhere to lure the fancy magazine types into thinking that this was a house of elegance and sophistication.
Naomi Jones and photographer Robert Sanderson arrived and immediately fell in with the gang, they made us feel totally at ease and were utterly delicious (I considered not giving them back either). They created an atmosphere of calm and control (not something this house is used to witnessing).
Naomi would breathe in deeply, I would immediately freeze, Rob would carry on setting up the shot (he knows all the different breath meanings now as they have worked togther for such a long time). Suddenly Naomi would carefully change just a few items and then you could see the shot. It was fascinating to watch a professional stylist at work, she knew exactly which object would complete the picture and you could see her brain whirring away, running through everything in my house that she might be able to use.
Whilst Naomi and Rob were creating magical scenes in the sitting room, my dream ninja team were cooking and flower arranging up a storm in the kitchen.
Moving upstairs Naomi and Rob laid siege to the main bedroom and created a magically festive room – I would never have thought to put a real wreath in our bedroom but by gum it looks magnificent – poor Karen, I will be forcing her to make one for me every year now!!!
These gorgeous people created something quite extraordinary with our home, gone were the cracks and everyday mess, replaced by serenity and calm but punctuated with a lot of laughter. Naomi and Rob are a brilliant team, immediately putting me at ease whilst creating something very beautiful with glorious styling and extraordinary photography. They were funny, patient and unbelievably kind – I had the most almighty panic when the year long wait for our tree roots to be removed coincided with this shoot as the garden looked like a tree crematorium – not a great christmas look – I threw myself on the mercy of the utterly delightful Cambridge Home and Garden company and they ridiculously gifted me the most amazing firepit so that we could have some outdoor shots.
I was conscious that we needed to include this firepit of mercy and warmth and even though it was dark and the end of the day, Rob and Naomi stayed to take the shots to show off this beautiful Kadai bowl. This is what my children call going “above and beyond”, I will be posting their certificates in the new year!
Thank you to two stupendously talented people and to everyone else who helped to transform this tired old girl into something of a glamourpuss for Christmas (now where is my hair and make up team???).
I wonder how long we can retain this gloriously festive, tidy home!!! Happy Christmas everyone, with love, Rebecca xxx