How to create a vintage Christmas

Take inspiration from the former coaching inn, belonging to cinema owners Juliet Maclay and husband David


One of the pleasures of having an eclectic taste when it comes to interiors is that there is much choice. This is certainly one of the perks that Juliet Maclay and her husband David enjoy when decorating their vintage Georgian coaching inn in Somerset for Christmas.


Taken by all things vintage and with a collecting habit passed down through generations, Juliet has a penchant for ephemera, in particular pre-1950s packaging. Far from being fussed about what comes inside the box like most others at Christmas, her excitement stems from what’s on the outside. When the boxes are as charming as those displayed under the tree, it’s easy to see why.

‘It’s a weird draw,’ she says. The boxes date from the 1930s to 1940s and the attraction comes from their everyday appearance and history. ‘We see the beauty in the rather prosaic’. It’s certainly a novel and thrifty way to evoke a sense of nostalgia.



The silverware on the dining table in the library of Juliet and David’s home belonged to Juliet’s great-grandmother. The Victorian chairs are American hand-stenciled ‘Hitchcock’ chairs from a rural Connecticut company founded in 1818. The beautiful German advent calendar is in the shape of St Mark’s Basilicain Venice, is available from



Juliet can trace her collecting habit through the generations to her grandmother. ‘Nobody has ever thrown anything away in my family and, though we’ve never owned anything of great value, we see beauty in the rather prosaic.’ Displayed under the Christmas tree and atop the cabinet in Juliet’s living room is part of her collection of 1930s and 1940s cardboard boxes. The artwork above the fireplace is by her husband, David.



Juliet’s son Connor has styled the shelves above the piano for Christmas. Among the vintage toys and ephemera is a rare 1906 design teddy bear (far left) called Bargate. The tin toy lorry as found 25 years ago in a London junk shop, and the tin on the piano is Russian. The little cat, Snowball, on the middle shelf was Juliet’s first ever toy. ‘He was bought from Harrods in 1958 by my grandmother,’ says Juliet.



‘We’re Christmas people,’ asserts Juliet. ‘The boys are 28 and 24 but still approach the season with childlike glee.’ The display cabinet displays just some of Juliet’s festive ephemera – the cabinet was found in a charity shop and lovingly restored by hand. It’s papered with 1940s ‘wheat’ pattern wallpaper that was found at a flea market.


Photographs: David Parmiter
Juliet and David Maclay’s home appeared in the December 2015 issue of Homes & Antiques. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here