How to create a colourful Christmas

Rachel Bates' festive home is aglow with sumptuous antiques and peacock shades

For interior designer Rachel Bates, it's the stories behind antiques that intrigue her, and these gems fill her dazzling home, offset with peacock shades and sumptuous textiles. 

A glance at her drawing room will tell you that Rachel isn't one for subtlety, or for playing things safe. Textiles are heavily patterned - and certainly not matching - countless colours come into play, while gilding, carving and detail are everywhere. 'When it comes to interiors, I do tend to veer towards the more daring side of things. I love the feel of stately homes and Italian palazzos,' she says. 


The family room has a gentleman's library feel with antique winged armchairs upholstered in James Hare silk and imposing mirrors. The large example to the left of the tree was created using an antique gilt frame with new glass and a striking black surround. Rachel bought the hare, nicknamed Horatio, from an antiques shop four years ago. Horatio is c1900 and was modified around six years ago. 'I love how he was given a walking stick and scarf,' laughs Rachel. 


Adorning the fireplace in the drawing room are Rachel's collection of antique jugs, glasses and tea cups displaying her faux flower arrangements. The sofa and armchair were both reupholstered, while the Venetian chandelier is c1900.


'I love the fact that antiques have a story,' says Rachel, 'I often wonder about the dinner parties that have occurred around a certain vase or item of glass.' Rachel hand-painted the antique dining table in her kitchen, while the chairs are her own designs. The mirror behind the tree is an ornate antique rococo piece. 


Rachel's second antique purchase was this gilded candelabra, which she bought as a gift for her husband. The chandelier is also antique and English. 'I buy things because I love them and often don't know the heritage,' she says. The table is one of her designs and was a collaboration with Stewart Fox. 


In the master bedroom, the bed was designed in collaboration with And So To Bed and was inspired by a Georgian bedhead belonging to Rachel. The chandelier was another antique piece. 'The ceilings upstairs are quite low, but I refuse not to have chandeliers in every room!' says Rachel. 

Rachel had the 1920s sofa in her dressing room reupholstered in a beautiful peacock fabric. You can also see a couple of Rachel's vintage handbags on display on the wardrobe door. 

The full feature on Rachel Bates' home was published in Homes & Antiques December 2016 issue. Back issues are still available. To buy a copy, click here.

Words: Katie Hallett
Images: Christopher Drake

How to decorate with Arts and Crafts this Christmas
previous feature article
The Knowledge: John Benjamin on Georgian diamond jewellery
next feature article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here