A sustainable Christmas in Trevor Pickett’s Suffolk cottage

Trevor Pickett, owner of the eponymous luxury leather company, proves that Christmas celebrations can be both decorative and sustainable in his Suffolk cottage. Feature Amanda Harling. Photographs Andreas von Einsiedel.

Sustainable Christmas House

Trevor Pickett, the éminence grise behind Pickett, London’s tiniest, most stylish accessory shops, fully deserves a relaxing Christmas break. ‘Both shops stay open until the afternoon on Christmas Eve,’ he says, adding that they’re usually busy until closing time. ‘All those lovely customers who leave things to the last minute, or realise they’ve forgotten to find a gift for their Christmas hostess.’

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However, once the ‘Closed’ sign is on the door, Trevor makes tracks for his country retreat in Suffolk. ‘Once I’m on the road I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  There’s nowhere else I’d rather be at Christmas.’ Trevor has known the area since he was a boy, when his parents had a place in the village of Sizewell, where the family would spend weekends and school holidays. ‘My mother, my sister and I would ride around on our bikes all day, roaming far and wide; there are few corners of Suffolk I haven’t explored. It’s a unique and lovely part of England.’

Trevor bought the cottage three years ago, having sold his previous weekend home in favour of a smaller property that would require less upkeep. ‘I love seeing my friends but the days of inviting 12 people for Sunday lunch are over for me; six people around the table are quite enough; I can hear what everyone is saying.’  

Sustainable Christmas home
Internal walls were demolished to create the spacious sitting room in the oldest part of the cottage. A palette of grey, brown and jewel-like blue combined with subtle textures creates a cosily sophisticated take on the country look. Books and Trevor’s latest finds from his forays to local antiques shops fill the shelves. The 19th-century fauteuil armchairs are from Green Square in Copenhagen.

Trevor’s talent for design and decoration extends in many directions.  He designs much of the beautifully made Pickett merchandise himself and the homes he creates are as stylish and individual as his shops. The same can also be said of the splendid decorative schemes he dreams up for Christmas. Planning starts during the autumn and, for a number of years, Trevor has used natural materials wherever possible to minimise the ecological cost. ‘There isn’t a speck of glitter anywhere,’ he says.

But there is nothing minimal about the decorative effect, which is gorgeously over the top. Pine cones and pheasant feathers are gathered on long country walks, and these are stored in the garden shed until just before Christmas. To these Trevor adds sliced oranges for their ‘sensational scent’. Seasonal sparkle is provided by crystal decanters, pewter candlesticks and coloured glasses, all of which gleam in the firelight.

Sustainable Christmas House
A set of handsome Hepplewhite-style dining chairs with serpentine top rails and broad pierced splayed backs surrounds the circular table, which makes for convivial gatherings throughout the year.

This year, instead of a traditional tree, Trevor has grouped half a dozen birch saplings (destined for his garden in the new year) in a corner of the sitting room. ‘Festooned with lights and hung with traditional ornaments made from off-cuts of wood they look suitably festive but won’t end up as woodchip, unlike most Christmas trees,’ he says.

When Trevor was sent details of the cottage it wasn’t love at first sight.  Nevertheless, he asked his trusted builder Russell (who has sadly since passed away) to give it the once over. ‘Russell had a good look around and, having clambered up on the roof, he told me that I’d regret it if I didn’t buy it.

Sustainable Christmas House
Foliage, pine cones and crackers tumble out of the fireplace in the kitchen/dining room. The dried slices of orange fill the air with a delicious aromatic scent.

He was absolutely right – every time I walk through the front door I know I did the right thing.’ While not remote, being situated in a hamlet about a five-minute drive from the nearest town, the cottage came with a secluded garden shielded by trees from the houses on either side.

‘The building dates from around 1750 but had been extended over the years.’ With Russell’s help, Trevor drew up plans for alterations to the house, garage and conservatory. What were once four poky rooms is now a well-proportioned space for fireside reading, relaxing and entertaining. The garage became a third bedroom and the conservatory can be used throughout the year.

Sustainable Christmas home
The guest bedroom in the newer part of the house is painted a luminous shade of pale blue/grey, In the Shadows by Valspar. The curtains are vintage Laura Ashley and Trevor picked them up at a shop in Cirencester, they provide a pretty contrast to the gingham bed linen.

Trevor has long been a collector. ‘I began when I was 12,’ he says, adding that it was a silver-plated fluted sugar bowl that caught his eye. ‘I go through phases – basketry, carved wooden objects, paintings, china, painted furniture, pewter, glass… I can’t possibly keep it all so, as soon as I’m over that particular period or genre, I sell everything at Marlesford Mill, where I have a stand,’ he says.

Some things are keepers, of course. Although the buyer of his previous house bought most of the contents, lock stock and barrel, Trevor kept a few favourite pieces, such as the circular dining table in the sitting room. A number of other favourite pieces were acquired on his travels, such as the armchairs on either side of the fireplace, which came from Green Square in Copenhagen, and the floral rug came from Istanbul.

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Fortunately, two of his favourite shops are closer to home: ‘Dix-Sept Antiques and Goodbrey’s are both in nearby Framlingham so to indulge my craving that’s where I head to on Saturdays. My own shops apart, they are the best places to find presents for friends, and myself,’ laughs Trevor.