Step into a full-on decorative Christmas at Mulberry House

Mulberry House may be a work-in-progress refurbishment but that doesn’t stop owners Leah and Rupert Lane from pulling out all the stops for Christmas. From the first week in December, this Georgian farmhouse becomes a hive of making, baking and creating – gathering greenery from the garden, crafting homemade decorations, crowd-cooking mince pies and, of course, decking the tree.

“When we finally get it into the house we dress it together as a family,” says Leah, with festive songs on the radio and a sneaky Side Car cocktail for the grown-ups. “Decorating at Christmas is about a more-is-more approach for me. It’s about bringing the outside in. Plus, plenty of stripes and lights – the more, the better!”

christmas decorations at mulberry house living roompinterest

Brent Darby

Decorating is Leah’s passion: she’s an interior designer and stylist, while Rupert works for a tech start-up from an office based in the garden. The couple made the move from south London to the Surrey countryside seven years before they had children.

“We loved how close it was to a market town [Farnham] but how secluded it felt, with so much land around it,” recalls Leah. “We’d set our hearts on a Georgian property and that can be hard to find in this part of the world. In hindsight, though, we were perhaps naïve: we had no idea how much hard graft the property would be!”

Christmas is an annual prompt to pause the renovation work, and, of course, Leah goes to town with decorations. Every window on the classic ‘dolls-house’ facade is decorated with wreaths fashioned from evergreens from the garden, mixed with russet-red oak leaves and berries. The inspiration, says Leah, is the Fortnum & Mason advent calendars featuring the iconic store facade with a wreath at every window.

christmas housepinterest

Photos; Brent Darby. Styling BenKendrick

christmas housepinterest

Photos; Brent Darby. Styling BenKendrick

The hallway is dressed with arrangements of flowers, a second tree and a large garland of eucalyptus – studded with assorted evergreens, baubles and cones – that winds its way up the impressive staircase. Leah says: “The garland gets bigger and bigger every year; it took me about six years to get all the faux foliage as it’s expensive stuff. But now, that’s my base and I supplement it with whatever takes my fancy from the garden.”

christmas decorations at mulberry house staircasepinterest

Brent Darby

christmas housepinterest

Photos; Brent Darby. Styling BenKendrick

In the open-plan kitchen-dining room, at the back of the house, natural foliage hangs from original beams – which stays up all year – while windowsills and corners throughout are dressed for the season. Festivities usually centre around the living room and a big, colourful tree adorned with ribbons and no fewer than 5,000 lights!

christmas decorations at mulberry house kitchenpinterest

Brent Darby

christmas decorations at mulberry house the treepinterest

Brent Darby

The ceiling, festooned with vibrant streamers, is a real conversation-starter. “A friend of mine decorated her ceiling with streamers for Christmas but never took them down,” explains Leah, “and I liked the idea of a permanent party room.” It’s beneath these that presents are unwrapped on Christmas morning – “we take turns, it’s not a free-for-all” – after church, followed by Bloody Marys, Christmas lunch and the King’s speech.

Leah’s tips for crafty decorating

  1. BUY A WREATH BASE then use foraged seasonal greenery from the garden. If you use one with an open structure you don’t even need florist’s wire – you can use faux fern wire to attach the foliage or weave the stems into the base.
  2. DECORATE WITH HOPS to bring the outside in, filling the house with a lemony, malty aroma. You can grow your own, order them from a florist or buy inexpensively online. Add festive ambience to them with fairy lights.
  3. FILL ADVENT CALENDARS with traditional sweets, small toys, or personal, homemade crafts, such as a little treasure map to lead guests or children on a hunt round the house or garden.
  4. STRING UP PAPER GARLANDS. They are an inexpensive way to create an instant, joyful party atmosphere. I get mine from stationery and gifting studio Scribble & Daub.
  5. DECK THE MANTELPIECES. I use a base garland of faux foliage and add oranges and ribbons for colour. Dried hydrangeas add instant bulk to decorations and can be poked in without wire.
christmas decorations at mulberry house fireplacepinterest

Brent Darby

After New Year, once the decorations are carefully packed away, progress will resume on refurbishing the house. “I do most of the work myself,” says Leah, “but we do outsource to specialists for certain things as it’s important to get it right and I enjoy finding local artisans to help.”

With a layered and lived-in scheme, Leah sources most of her eclectic vintage and antique furnishings from eBay and Facebook Marketplace – “great places to find bargains”.

Her secret to breathing life into a period home? “Keep it elegantly tired,” she advises. “Buy second-hand wooden pieces to make rooms instantly feel warm and welcoming. Layer with vintage cushions, throws, chair covers and rugs to bring it all together. And don’t think it has to be perfect immediately. Simply do one room at a time and iterate on your ideas until you’re happy.”

Follow Leah on Instagram, @mymulberryhouse.


Country Living Kirkton Sofa
Country Living Kirkton Sofa
Credit: DFS
Minshan Bookcase
Minshan Bookcase

Now 25% Off

Credit: OKA
Country Living Tarland Accent Chair
Country Living Tarland Accent Chair
Credit: DFS
Country Living Dakota Wool Carpet
Country Living Dakota Wool Carpet
Credit: Carpetright
Country Living Falmouth Ceramic Table Lamp
Country Living Falmouth Ceramic Table Lamp
Credit: Homebase
Jallen Storage Coffee Table
Jallen Storage Coffee Table
Credit: Perch and parrow
Churchgate Herringbone Natural Cushion
Churchgate Herringbone Natural Cushion
Credit: Dunelm
Clemence Pedestal Side Table
Clemence Pedestal Side Table
Credit: John Lewis & Partners
Pembroke Full Length Arch Mirror
Pembroke Full Length Arch Mirror
Credit: The White Company

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