Wayfair style adviser shares her decorating tips for a maximalist Christmas

Nadia McCowan Hill is having a colourful Christmas (Picture: Adam Carter/,uk)

Chris Rea may have driven home for Christmas, but for Nadia McCowan Hill it was an easyJet flight that reunited her with the holiday spirit.

Resident style adviser for Wayfair homeware and furniture store Nadia had been living and working in Berlin for six years.

But while her rented flat in the Prenzlauer Berg district was full of the German capital’s trademark boho chic, it wasn’t exactly Christmassy.

Luckily the Georgian five-bedroom property in Montpelier, Bristol, that she has bought with husband Ed, and shares with her three children, is the house that saved Christmas.

‘I’m quite new to moving back to the UK from Berlin,’ she explains, ‘and while I always loved Berlin apartments, I’ve not had the space to do too much Christmas decoration. Having a staircase to decorate is like a dream.

‘German-style interiors can be quite minimalist and I would say I’m more of a maximalist. Christmas for me is a fabulous chance to express your personality and introduce fun and colour to your space.’

Nadia has embraced decorating her new home for Christmas (Picture: Adam Carter)
Christmas colours don’t have to be traditional (Picture: Adam Carter)

This Christmas, Nadia is doing just that, making up for lost time by filling her first house purchase with quirk and character for the festive season, while also using it as a test-bed for new colours and ideas she can keep all year round.

The house itself was bought online, without viewing, because of lockdown, so the last few months have been something of a voyage of discovery. ‘We had only seen it twice on Zoom, so it was quite a risky manoeuvre but we totally fell in love with it.

‘We have been slowly decorating — Christmas gives you a chance to think more creatively and can be a springboard to decorative details that you can live with year-round,’ she says.

The cornerstone of the decorations was not blowing the Christmas budget on decorations. After all, there’s no point in staring at top-end baubles if there’s not enough in the kitty for a turkey.

‘I like to make it accessible and do it on a budget,’ says Nadia. ‘It’s not a time to spend a huge amount on expensive décor — but it’s amazing what you can achieve on a budget.’

The centrepiece of the whole house this Christmas would naturally be that beloved new staircase. Instead of going to a florist and having a garland made from scratch, Nadia used a Wayfair seasonal garland and pinned on real dried hydrangea and eucalyptus, as well as gypsophila sprayed gold, purple, silver and turquoise.

‘The key thing is to get an affordable stairwell garland with a wire formation and pimp it up,’ she says. Then gold appliqué numbers were added to the stairwell, which complemented the Farrow & Ball colour, Railings. ‘This was fun and super-simple to create — I’ll definitely keep these after Christmas.’

The beautifully decorated staircase (Picture: Adam Carter)
Tree branches are even more eye-catching in blue(Picture: Adam Carter)
The fireplace got a fefstive makeover(Picture: Adam Carter)

The finishing touches for the staircase are toy animals in bell jars running up the banister. ‘Always look to nature and intersperse the décor, then have quirky touches people might not expect.’

One trend Nadia has noticed this Christmas in her neighbourhood is a sense of community, spurred on she believes by lockdown, and this year each house is doing an advent window, organised by a WhatsApp group, but everyone has complete creative license.

Nadia says she wanted to embrace diversity as well as creating something she can share with her children. The family foraged a branch and sprayed it turquoise, adding rainbow baubles and messaging around the theme.

‘Having a theme around Christmas keeps it interesting,’ she says. ‘After Covid there has been a community feel. At Wayfair we have seen an explosion in outdoor décor, from normal lights to extravagant ornamental items. The trend is a shift to decorating outside so the community can see it — spread some joy in the community, too.’

Keeping things slightly left-field, the Christmas tree is a Flocked White Fir from Wayfair rather than standard green. Going for artificial can be more sustainable if it is used year after year, Nadia believes, and it is lower maintenance, especially with young children running around.

Coming up with ideas for Christmas is easy, she says. ‘There is such an abundance of inspiration if you look for it. There is Pinterest and interior magazines, the first port of call when styling up a space. I like then to introduce natural elements, they work harmoniously with purchased items.’

You can achieve a maximalist look on a budget (Picture: Adam Carter)
Festoon lights and baubles finish off the festive dining table (Picture: Adam Carter)

Perhaps the most unusual element of Nadia’s Christmas spread is not the dining table decoration, but the location of the dining table itself — it’s outside. Spurred again by her apartment living, she has gone for something completely different.

She has layered chairs with sheepskin, added a chiminea and finished the look with festoon lights that bring a glimmering glow. A spray-painted branch has been suspended over the table to create a centrepiece with a difference.

The room that best showcases both Christmas and Nadia’s personal style is the guest bedroom, an essential part of the house during the holidays. She calls it ‘Beetlejuicy’, in part due to the antique curiosities, including a butterfly box from a Hackney antiques shop, and a Daria Petrilli artwork.

But there’s also the statement black-and-white mirror that mimics Michael Keaton’s suit in the Tim Burton classic film. The gold-coloured drinks trolley then adds a touch of glam.

‘I have vintage dolls from the market and little Mary statuettes. They get a few raised eyebrows but I like things that make you do a double take.

‘I love anything that is a bit unique, quirky and especially religious iconography. I love artists like Miloš Hronec, his art is quite that vibe.’ For anyone inspired to go a little different with their Christmas decorations, Nadia advises working with what you already like.

’When you are trying to alight on a scheme, have a particular aesthetic in mind. Going with the period of your property can help — but liven it up with contemporary touches, too, so it doesn’t feel too unified,’ she says.

But the most important thing is to have fun. ‘Make a virtue of the process, get the Christmas tunes going and make it a collaborative experience. It creates a lovely memory.’

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