Top picks from the Spirit of Christmas
Every year I look forward to heading to House and Garden’s Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia in London. It’s a fun place to source thoughtful Christmas presents and pick up some quirky pieces for the home. Quite why they put a champagne bar in both the middle and the end of the complex I’ll never know… But one of the reasons that I love it is you get to discover some brilliant artisan companies, some of which are just starting out on their journey and might not have a huge retail presence, and invariably the owners, who are so passionate about their product, are manning the stands.
I have an unhealthy obsession with Ralph Lauren Home. If you ever read about a crazy lady arrested for hiding under a bed in their Fulham Rd super store until all the staff have left, and then pretending she lived there, that will be me. Until I finally can’t resist the urge to act on this fantasy any longer, I will proceed with my current modus operandi, which is scouring the world for the lower cost option, murmuring, ‘Oh that is very Ralph…’
My favourite top five picks for you to check out from the show are, (paying homage to Mr Lauren):
Even the name is brilliant. The chic, not beige, not grey, but greige look you have been looking for. Super cool stuff, in a greyish beige, naturally. I pretty much wanted everything on their stand. What stood out for me was the proportions of their products – oversized cut glass candelabras, enormous antler encased hurricane lamps and vintage glass candle holders which seemed modern but yet would work in any interior – perfect for a hall table or mantle piece. Watch out, trade boutique hotel interior decorators are buying up whole collections, so get in fast.
These girls from Chester have just launched their home wares company and it is right up my strasa, as an Irish former colleague used to say. I loved their vintage linen covered Charleston Polo chests for storing heinous plastic toys or DVDs, hiding your handbags or storing throws. Their antler candelabras were very reasonably priced and they also had beautiful reindeer hide throws and wool blankets. A really nice all round collection that is perfect for any chalet.
What I really need is an enormous, silver pheasant for a shoot dinner table setting centre piece, said no one ever, until they saw these for £69 at the Spirit of Christmas. They are beautifully made with a high level of detail. They also have silver plated antler candleholders and some dashing silver stags that would look great as part of a Christmas display (more versatile than Rudolph, let’s face it). If you are a frequent recipient of country house shoot hospitality I think they’re a lovely gift for the lady of the house. Check out their Hunter Wolf collection online. They have some very stylish black and white photo frames that would look brilliant in a city home or monochrome interior.
Erm…not strictly interiors, but fabulous boots are always relevant, no? These Ibiza-fied ‘Alpe’ Chelsea boots are a cute option for the Autumnal school run and worth considering at £89 a pop. Her knee-high suede boots evoke thoughts of Gucci and come in navy, black, brown and green. Ever so stylish.
5. Pret A Vivre
I have saved this one for last because anyone who has moved into a curtainless house will understand the dull, expensive torture that is commissioning curtains. Only writing a specification list for wall socket back plates left me more bored in the entire process of putting together a home. Where were these ladies when I needed them? Introducing the brilliant company ‘Pret A Vivre’. Their entire fabric selection was spot on. Lovely country or city chic viscose/cotton blend velvets, wispy romantic cotton voiles, and heavenly heavy linens, ranging from £29 – £55 a metre. Sourcing the fabric starts off being such fun, but like a kid in a candy shop, you can have too much of a good thing. If you want to save yourself 17 hours, talk to the girls at ‘Pret a Vivre’. Ralph would approve. Some people are born with style and the rest of us should accept our place and, you know, just exploit that. They take care of everything from beginning to end, leaving you, as it ‘says on the tin’, ready to live. Nice. Now pass me the Chablis…