7 ways to create a William Morris style Christmas

Arts and Crafts antiques and William Morris patterns are ideal for creating the cosy winter haven you've always dreamed of...

Rich tones and deep colours give a contemporary backdrop to classic 19th-century arts and crafts pieces

Picture the Christmassy scene at a typical, late 19th-century Arts and Crafts cottage in the Cotswolds. A fire crackles in the parlour grate, and ceramic vases of holly, ivy and mistletoe are arranged with an air of artlessness on windowsills and simple wooden furniture. A noble fir tree stands in the corner, decorated with flags, bonbons and puffs of cotton wool, in common with Victorian homes everywhere…

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With a focus on artistry, materials and decorations inspired by nature, why not entice yourself to invest in some Ruskin-inspired designs with these seven easy decorating ideas.

1

Tying wide lengths of sumptuous velvet ribbon around your cushions makes for a quick and quirky Christmas decorating trick

Blue velvet chair next to an arts and crafts table against a vibrant blue background Presents wrapped in Emily Burningham wrapping paper, ribbons tied around patterned cushions, art deco baubles, Morris & Co accessories and arts and crafts antiques
Heal’s oak cricket table, c1900, £1,200, Puritan Values.
On table: presents in selected wrapping paper, £1.65 per sheet, Emily Burningham; ribbons, 75p per m, Berisfords; peacock bauble £4.95; crackle bauble, £8.95; art deco bauble, £9.95, all Liberty; bell, £1, Royal Museums Greenwich; chamberstick by Dr Christopher Dresser for Perry, Son & Co, £350, Puritan Values; brass and glass candle holder, £25, Rockett St George. Settee by Collinson & Lock, £3,800, Puritan Values On settee: present, as before; mushroom peg, £3, John Lewis; green cushion, £24.17, Rockett St George; bolster in ‘Love is Enough’ fabric, £52 per m; cushion in ‘Acanthus Tapestry’ fabric, £93 per m, both Morris & Co On wall: wreath, £35, John Lewis; ‘Blue Heron’ paint, £21.50 per 0.94l, Benjamin Moore
2

Enjoy a traditional English Christmas with an Arts and Crafts mood. Rich tones and deep colours give a contemporary backdrop to classic 19th-century pieces

Chest, find similar at Puritan Values. Candle holder, as before. Marble bauble, £6, John Lewis. Benham & Froud chamberstick, c1900, £695 for two; Arts and Crafts box, £385, both The Design Gallery. Trellis and scalloped baubles, £4.50 each, both John Lewis. Magnifying glass, £19.95, Rockett St George. Tray (part of set), c1905, £1,250; silver-plated box, £695, both The Design Gallery. Pewter bowl (part of a set by William Hutton), £3,500 (for the set), Puritan Values. Art deco bauble, as before. Wire lights, £12, Nordic House
Chest, find similar at Puritan Values. Candle holder, as before. Marble bauble, £6, John Lewis. Benham & Froud chamberstick, c1900, £695 for two; Arts and Crafts box, £385, both The Design Gallery. Trellis and scalloped baubles, £4.50 each, both John Lewis. Magnifying glass, £19.95, Rockett St George. Tray (part of set), c1905, £1,250; silver-plated box, £695, both The Design Gallery. Pewter bowl (part of a set by William Hutton), £3,500 (for the set), Puritan Values. Art deco bauble, as before. Wire lights, £12, Nordic House
3

To really make Arts and Crafts style zing, minimise the colour palette, punch up the tones to a more luminous effect and layer pattern

William Morris armchair in a Christmassy living room next to a fire. Christmas tree is filled with lights and stands next to a green velvet sofa and arts and crafts movement table. William Morris wallpaper reflected in mirror
Armchair, find similar at Sofa Workshop. Armchair in ‘Bramble’ fabric, £59 per m, Morris & Co
On armchair: ‘Bella’ throw, £99.99, Linen Me; cushion in ‘Acanthus Tapestry’ fabric, £93 per m, Morris & Co. ‘Mere’ footstool in ‘Snakeshead’ fabric, £445, Sofa Workshop On footstool: backgammon, £19.95; dominoes, £39.95, both Wild & Wolf. ‘Kashmir’ tree, £225, John Lewis On tree: berry stems, £7 each; dogwood stems, £5 each; letter baubles, £5 each; tree skirt, £20, all John Lewis; ‘Betty’ baubles, £28 for six, Neptune; crackle baubles, as before; gold baubles, £3.95 each; art deco baubles, as before, all Liberty; tree topper, £23, Nordic House
On mantelpiece: copper jug (part of WAS Benson tea service, c1905), £1,250; green jug, £255 for two, both The Design Gallery; pewter jug (part of a set by William Hutton), £3,500 (for the set), Puritan Values; votive, £4.25, Raj Tent Club; clock by Collins & Co, £2,800; chamberstick, as before, both Puritan Values Above mirror: paper snowflake, £9, Talking Tables; letter and scalloped baubles, as before Above fireplace: stag head wreath, £17.95, The Letteroom; mushroom pegs, as before; honeycomb paper balls, £12.50 for three, Talking Tables. Oak table by Liberty & Co, £700, Puritan Values On table: blue votive, £6.50, Rockett St George; copper bowl by the Birmingham Guild of Handicraft, £800, Puritan Values; droplet bauble, £6; trellis bauble, as before, both John Lewis; bell, as before; tree candle holder, from £7.95, The Letteroom; green glass decorations, £4.50 each, Rastall & Daughters; wine glasses, £39 each, English Antique Glass; plate, find similar at John Lewis On sofa: ‘Ottavio’ throw, £59.99, Wool Me; ‘Lord Byron’ cushion, £35, National Portrait Gallery. ‘Jessica’ rug, £1,552, Amy Kent On wall: painted as before; ‘Bird & Pomegranate’ wallpaper, £69 per roll, Morris & Co
4

Bring festive flourishes in from your winter garden to decorate and delight. Berries and foliage sit beautifully with deep rich blues and ivy greens. Make room on a chest for extra guests to sit and light candles for a sense of intimacy

Dining room set using arts and crafts movement dining table and chairs. A berry chandelier is above the table using red ribbon.
Dining table by Peter Waals, £2,800, Puritan ValuesOn table: tablecloth, £54.99; napkins, £5.49 each, both Linen Me; Benham & Froud chambersticks c1900, £695 per pair, The Design Gallery; star tray, £42 for two, Nordic House; wine glasses, £38.90 each; tumblers, £27 each, both English Antique Glass; claret jug by Dr Christopher Dresser, c1870, £1,200, Puritan Values; Minton Secessionist plate (holding mince pies), £175, Patch Rogers; Newlyn copper tray (under glasses), £945; rose bowl by AE Jones, c1905, £1,850, both The Design Gallery; wreath, £45, Liberty; silver candlestick, £3,800 (for a pair), Puritan Values; cutlery, £11.50 per piece, Nordic House. Hanger (above table), £14, Nordic House. Copper rings (on hanger), £5.50 each, Rastall & Daughters. Art nouveau chair, c1910, £650, Patch RogersOn chest: reindeer throw, £195, Woolshed Designs; ‘Grapevine Red’ cushion, £25, Emily Burningham; present, as before By window: blinds and seat pad in ‘Ruskin’ fabric in ‘Indigo’, £66 per m, Morris & Co; plain cushions, £24.17 each, Rockett St George; cushions in ‘Cherries Charcoal’ fabric, £62 per m, Emily Burningham; nutcracker, £12.99; baubles, as before, both John Lewis
5

Bring to the table sturdy ceramic dishes loaded with festive fruits, intermingled with joyful sparklers

A red and white William de Morgan charger holds festive fruits and joyful sparklers
William De Morgan charger, £2,400, Patch Rogers. Heart sparklers, £6 per box; scatter stars, £3.50; robin decoration, £10 per pack, all Talking Tables. Green glass decorations, as before. Tablecloth and napkins, as before. Droplet bauble, as before
6

This Arts and Crafts staircase is decorated to create an inviting entrance and a cosy spot for guests to pull on their wellies for a Christmas Day walk

Arts and crafts staircase decorated with blue and white decorations. Morris & Co fabric is used to create a stocking. Eucalyptus stems are used as foliage to decorate the stairs
Pilkington tile, £485; Minton tile, £475 for two, both Patch Rogers. Stocking in ‘Grapevine’ fabric in ‘Indigo’, £52 per m; with cuff in ‘Ruskin’ fabric in ‘Indigo’, £66 per m, both Morris & Co. Eucalyptus stems, £10 each; letter bauble, as before, both John Lewis. Garland, £24; pennants, £6.95, both Rastall & Daughters. Wire lights, as before. WAS Benson copper tea service c1905, £1,250, The Design Gallery. Cushion in ‘Cairngorms’ fabric in ‘Birch’, £42 per m, Voyage. Presents, as before. Notebook, find similar at John Lewis
7

Make space in the corner of your sitting room or study for a festive gift wrapping station. Cover presents with leftover rolls of wallpaper, thick velvety ribbons – and for an element of surprise nature-inspired decorations, such as these enchanting mushroom pegs

An office is decorated using William Morris wallpaper against a festive green wall. Vintage wall charts are hung above a liberty desk.
Liberty & Co ash desk, c1895, £1,650, Patch Rogers.On desk: wallpaper, from £62 per roll, Morris & Co; Minton tile, as before; WAS Benson copper pot (part of set), as before; ribbon, as before; letter stickers (on present), £9.95 per set, Rockett St George; glass box, £30, Royal Museums Greenwich; mini tree, £11.99, Rastall & Daughters; bells, as before; gentleman’s notebooks, £14.95 for three, Wild & Wolf; perpetual calendar, £12, Rockett St George; ship’s well lamp, £379, Original BTC; Christmas cards, £3.99 for six, Emily Burningham; wire lights, as before. Cards (on shelves), from a selection, Katie Leamon. Ebony chair, £475, Patch RogersOn chair: present, as before; mushroom peg, as before; gift tag, £2.50 for six, Rockett St GeorgeOn walls: ‘Peale Green’ paint, £21.50 per 0.94l, Benjamin Moore; ‘Acanthus’ wallpaper in ‘Privet’, £69 per roll, Morris & Co; insect wall hanging, £11.95; moth wall hanging, £8.95, both Rockett St George

The full feature on decorating with Arts and Crafts antiques appeared in the December 2016 issue of Homes & Antiques.

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Photographs: Katya De Grunwald
Styling: Ali Bradshaw