Beach Cottage Coastal Christmas ~ 5 Tips for Christmas Beach Decor
Fri 2nd, Dec, 2011
G’day lovely Beach Cottage gals – ready to get a little sparkly & Christmassy for a Coastal Christmas from this old cottage?…wanna know my 5 tips for Christmas Beach Decor??….oooh yeah I am so ready.
(issuing a serious Beach Cottage Ramble Alert today, you might just wanna scroll on through the pictures ;-) )
So this year I am mainly doing sparkly lights on everything that doesn’t move and red ribbon tied around anything that is left over.
(**edited to add, apologies for a few spacing issues on this post too…looking into it x)
My first piece to attack was this dresser…I wanted it to look twinkly and pretty after dark and it does…not so easy to show you that in the photos though, but mark my words it’s Christmas Grotto Heaven in here once the sun has gone down.
When I was doing this hutch dressing, Bing was playing and it was feeling very Christmassy in here, it got me to thinking about a coastal Christmas here in Australia (you can find more of my Christmas Beach Decor here on the deck, if you missed it) and how now the warm summer weather and bright sunny hot days and Christmas decs in the sun makes me feel like Christmas… I think, if I were to be honest, this is the first year I have not somehow in the back of my mind thought that it felt all wrong…though I certainly do still miss the cold weather, the getting dark at 4pm, the coming home from school to the Christmas tree on a cold afternoon, the sitting next to the fire beside the tree watching Christmas on the BBC…yes I definitely miss that.
As I was doing this my mind started to wander, as it does and I started thinking about those days before I had Honeymoon Baby, before I met Mr Beach Cottage and when I, really, had a totally different life, not just in country and climate and culture but in that then I was a single girl.
Anyway doing this Christmas cottage decorating reminded me of a time way back then in London. Yes you know where this is going, it’s an occupational hazard of this blog…my rambling on about days gone by when I worked in London…
It was the early days of December and I was that girl I have told you about, the one who worked in the PR company, in the West End of London, in a square with a black railed park in the middle (think Julia Roberts Notting Hill – the park, not me looking like her ;-) ) ….everyday I commuted on the train from our village in Kent up to the big smoke and to the converted terrace house on four floors with the big black front door and shiny brass plaque…surrounded by media types.
So, one day I was assigned to helping out a semi famous celebrity on a Christmas party/client event (in my lowly role as general dogsbody to those of a higher life form than me I would get these people to ‘look after’ often)…this person used to be an actress, but she had turned, somehow into a cook-cum-lifestyle-cum-general-miss-perfect and she was working with one of the clients of the company I worked for, which was one of the big champagne houses (yes I got a taste for very nice thank-you-very-much pink champagne in those days)…the brief was that this semi-famous Celebrity would be setting up the table and getting everything in her ‘lifestyle’ and then the clients would arrive and everything would be happy hunky dory wonderful.
I had met her a couple of times very briefly and as she flounced around warning bells had started ringing…some of these people were nice, most of them complete self-absorbed wannabe horrors.
On the day of the Christmas event, it was pouring with rain, and I was the one assigned to take all the equipment to the advertising agency and then on to where the event was taking place…
I had arrived early, getting everything sorted and together…boxes were packed, champagne was loaded up, brief was typed up and ready, you name it I had done it… and a cab (you know those lovely black London taxis with the driver from the East End) arrived to pick me up…it was lashing down with rain we packed everything in the taxi and arrived at the destination in good time…at the other end got everything out and took it upstairs to the function room.
There was a problem. I was the only one there, along with one other young lowly assistant from another department, because semi-famous Celebrity had been held up in an ‘urgent meeting’ alongside the Account Executives who were meant to be here instructing the likes of lowly me in what to do…
There was a huge, and I mean huge table ready and empty with nothing on it, save for white linen tablecloth and piles of china & cutlery ready to be placed…. in the corner a big pile of chairs were stacked up.
Now, you may be wondering, why this all hadn’t been taken care of, but the more I got to know this world, the more I came to realise a few things, first of all everything was more often than not left to the last minute and not properly organised and secondly, budgets were always mega-tight behind the scenes…on the surface it was all pink champagne and truffles in designer suits and sunglasses but the reality was often people like me in the wings sorting things out…
So, myself and another girl, of similar lowly stature, wondered what to do, we knew time was short and knew that the client was arriving in a few hours time for this event…we could also see that we were far far from ready and we were kinda standing there surveying and looking…hesitant to do anything and hesitant to do nothing…
…and then, in flounced one of the PR company directors…he was shortish and tubbyish and baldish and so up-him-selfish…he wore Italian suits and big ties, and I hated his shiny, sweaty, clammy skin and the way he looked down his nose at us ….and as was usual he started throwing his arms around, asking us lowly people why everything wasn’t ready, JUST where was everybody?! and what did we think we were doing?!
…so he told us to start getting the table ready, with, as I can remember, words along the lines of, God knows what this will look like with you two doing it..big sigh and more dramatic flouncing…
And so we did, and time ticked on…I remember the gold mottled chargers as if it were yesterday…I had packed them up on instruction from semi-famous Celebrity, I didn’t think I would be the one in charge of getting it all right…
We worked our little socks off…the table was dressed in plain white, but this was far from the Director’s brief of how he wanted it to look…he had wooshed his hands around and said he wanted it like an opulent Tuscan Christmas with gold and green (where he threw the Tuscan in from I have no idea and more I just about knew where Tuscany was, let alone what it dressed its tables like)…and so we dug around in the boxes from semi-famous Celebrity and found various gold and green things…from what I remember there were gold baubles, fake gold fruit (shudder), fake fir garlands (the ones meant for fireplace mantels), those strands of gold metallic paper (double shudder) and fake holly & ivy (triple shudder) and big rolls of gold and green ribbon, it was sorta speckled.
We laid out the garlands so they went right down the centre of the table, and piled the gold baubles in and along the garland…then in between on the white we poked the fruit in…I was working with a girl whose name I forget but she was from the East End and hilarious, we were joking and messing as we got our heads down and got on with it, she said she didn’t have a ******* clue what a Tuscan Christmas was like, we were more used to Woolworths (a budget department store in England) and Christmas a la Hackney rather than what went on with our distant Tuscan neighbours.
This was a big long table and not a small job, after our toiling we stepped back to look at our handiwork.
It was ok. No more. We thought old tubby, sweaty director would throw a pure gold hissy fit when he saw it…. and still no-one arrived…no super duper Celebrity-turned-lifestyle-stylist was to be seen.
Something was missing with the table. It looked far from Tuscan, even though we had no idea quite what or where that really was.
We ummed and ahhed there was no sparkle, not enough foofing…and so I had the bright idea that we would extravagantly tie around the chairs the gold ribbon and tuck in the ivy so it kinda hung down the back of the chair, we thought this would make it look more ‘Tuscan’…..we got to work on that…the chairs were those dress chairs you find in big hotels with the piping and the high backs…we had absolutely no idea what we were doing but we were young and brave and stupid.
When that was finished again we stood back, still on our own, and it was better, more Tuscan with a Roman touch, haha, but it didn’t pop and bling, the light wasn’t right…we looked up and up above was a big chandelier type affair right over the centre, but alongside were those spotlight type lights…not the downlighters that you would get nowadays, but those ones that you could twist and move around…lots of them…
We decided in our 20 yr old wisdom that we needed to move these lights to get some sparkle going on, but the lights were high up and so we got a chair each, balanced them on top of the table and then we both perched dangerously up there and moved a light each…we could just reach standing on tiptoes and reaching up…occupational health and safety would about blow a gasket nowadays for doing something like that….
And we stood there, looking at the fake gold baubles, the holly & ivy made from plastic, the horrid green garlands, the gold fruit and the wrapped up chairs as it all glistened and sparkled under the twisted lights.
“And Dahhhhling” he said
“How did you work that magic? ”
“Oh Dahhhling” she said
So if you are going a little more Coastal Christmas and a lot less Tuscan, here are my 5 Top Tips for Beach Decor & making it work, without spending a lot of money or doing too much standing on chairs
1. Keep it simple
Stick to a theme and don’t overdo it…this one is rather more cluttered than I normally go for, but that’s what I fancied for this hutch..I wanted vintage glass, white, old jam jars, a hint of blue, seashells, a few coastal things and sparkle…they all kinda amalgamate together nicely for a beach decor theme…with a touch of Nordic via the red…
2. Shop the house
Use your existing decor and fave things…you don’t need to buy special things for Christmas and the holidays, you can just make the things you already love get a more Christmas feeling
3. Sparkle it up
Add lights and sparkle for that special Christmas glow…I like to just add lights and tealights to my furniture and old vintage things…I look out for lights in budget stores and nearly always buy white, white lights go with any look and tie-in beautifully with coastal style
4. Add shells & things you might find in a beach / nautical cottage
prop shells and starfish alongside your regular decor for a coastal Christmas take on your regular Christmas decorating…
5. Start with the basics & layer on up
I start with a basic layer, like you do when you get dressed…the first layer here were the glass, lanterns and lights, because that was the overall look I was hoping for…I wanted the glass & lights to reflect off each other and twinkle in the evening…then I added more things to get the beach decor feel…the big driftwood star propped up, together with Christmas baubles, crochet star…and then I slotted in here and there nautical & coastal things….
And that my little Beach Cottage cherry pies is that…
I do hope you stayed with me until the end?
No there is not a prize here at the end of this post like there sometimes is ;-)
But there will be at the Beach Cottage Christmas Party..
Oh and Saturday Club the first Christmas version is very much on this week, yeah yeah I know we are all manically busy, running around like headless chickens thinking about turkey, and yeah yeah I was gonna shelve it and then thought twice, hey isn’t this time of year supposed to be fun for forty-is-the-new-thirties too?
Now come on, it’s Christmas you know, how about you leave me a comment telling me your best Christmas memories of fake gold fruit & Holly & Ivy.
See you next time Beach Cottage lovelies
p.s. there was snow here last year in our little Coastal Christmas beach cottage ;-) and for beachy Christmas Crafing, I made an easy Coastal Wreath…there’s a How To here