11 ways to make your living room feel festive
christmas living room

11 Christmas decor ideas for the living roomPhotography: Polly Wreford / Styling: Marianne Cotterill / Direction: Sarah Keady

The living room is at the heart of most Christmas festivities, and many of us have decorating traditions that we’ve followed since childhood. Yet there are so many ways and ideas for decorating beyond the usual red and gold Christmas tree that can feel more modern and relevant today.

Here, we look at 10 Christmas living room decor ideas, including styling a striking mantelpiece, creative ways of displaying Christmas cards, new and interesting festive colour schemes, and scents to set the right atmosphere…

1. Get creative with foliage

Winter foliage is the unsung hero of Christmas decorating, and the key to getting it right is in choosing the right colour.

Emily Baylis from June in March says: ‘Traditional winter season floristry includes lots of green foliage for a reason. Set the mood; there are options like eucalyptus and even berried eucalyptus for a lighter more contemporary look.

‘Pine is also great and it smells gorgeous, it will create a lovely warm, cosy feel. For a darker, rather more traditional result you can go for ruscus, or of course ivy. You can always just go for it and mix up the light and the dark, it’s often a good way to highlight just how beautiful something is.’

2. Scandi reigns

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Mark Scott

While Scandinavian design influences are prevalent year round, they come into their own at Christmas, when we would all ideally retreat to snow-tipped wooden cabins complete with roaring fire, sheepskin rugs and oodles of hot chocolate.

The Scandinavian philosophy of hygge is more pertinent than ever at Christmas, promoting a cosy and comforting design scheme that facilitates gatherings.

3. Mantelscaping

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Not just for mince pies – the fireplace has become the centrepiece of Christmas design schemes in many homes. A natural place for your winter foliage, and equally, a great spot for a faux garland wrapped in a string of warm LED lights, a group of mismatched pillar candles, or lightweight decorations like paper baubles.

4. Be sensitive to your space

Whilst decorating is a joyful exercise in form over function, the average household will live with their decorations for 39 days between the start of advent (27th November) and the Twelfth Night (5th January) and so, tiptoeing around an extra large Christmas tree in an extra small space may become tiresome.

A stout tree tucked in a corner, wreaths and garlands that sit up and away from floor space or simply a change of cushion covers or throws to something more festive can have a wonderful impact.

And a small Christmas tree doesn’t have to be modest in decoration.

‘The star of the show and the essential feature of any Christmas decorating theme is the tree,’ says Lucy Ward, brand director of Vinterior. ‘Take pride in the richness of colours, ornaments and materials. Use lights, blown glass ornaments, glittering baubles and decorations made from oranges and cloves to fill every inch of the space and marry the beauty of modern kitsch and elegant traditional touches.

‘To provide interest, wrap the presents in different paper and pile them haphazardly under the tree to mimic the effortless arrangement Father Christmas would leave in a hurry.’

5. Scent sets the mood

white company scent collectionwhite company scent collection

The scent of the season is always evocative – warming cinnamon and orange, and fresh pine needles are unmistakably festive.

‘When using essential oils, the obvious, overwhelming whack of clove can be softened and blended with bay, orange, and ylang-ylang to create a more personal, festive aroma. The oil blend can be burned as you wish over a candle in a ceramic burner,’ says Ottalie Stride, creative director of Albion Nord. ‘Additionally, a candle in an elegant candlestick or sconce can add both scent and twinkling atmosphere to any room.’

Select foliage can also create a festive aroma. ‘If fragrance is of the utmost importance to you, select a combination of aromatic evergreens for your wreaths. A mix of pine, cedar, eucalyptus, balsam, and juniper will result in a wintry scent. My top tip for keeping a wreath fresh is a daily misting of water,’ says luxury florist Ronny Colbie.

If you use an artificial tree, a bottle of Scentsicles scented paper tube sticks (with hooks included) can nestle among the decorations providing a real fern smell. You can also buy scented decorations from The White Company.

6. Get creative with your displays

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Wrapping up empty boxes in colourful paper and ribbons has to be one of the most affordable and impactful decorating details – and we love the creative ways in which homeowners are choosing to display them.

Forgo bottles of booze on the drinks cart and pile on multicoloured gift wrapped boxes instead, fill awkward corners and alcoves, add a few on windowsills or create a pile in front of an unused fireplace. They are lightweight enough to create mega displays.

7. Sugar plum tones

There was a time when Christmas decorations were limited to a choice between red and gold, or silver – and so many of us err on the side of tradition with our colour schemes.

Pink is not the most common Christmas colour – although pink Christmas trees are currently the most popular tree colour on TikTok, with 17 million views according to data from Christmas Tree World – but as you can see in the home of (@elle_the_home_bird) this can be a wonderfully sophisticated shade. Steer clear of fluorescent pinks, and go for more iridescent sugar plum shades, or a darker berry.

8. Dress your sofa

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We’re big fans of switching out soft accessories with the seasons, and while there are plenty of cushion covers and throws adorned with festive motifs, even a simple change in colour palette to warmer burgundies or even metallics would make sufficient difference.

‘There is nothing better than cosying up on the sofa and putting on your favourite Christmas film,’ says Leanne O’Malley at Studio. ‘Adding an extra blanket and switching up your soft furnishings seasonally is a great way to refresh your interior décor. To bring some winter tones and festive spirit to your living room, add some Christmas cushions to your sofa. These can then be stored away after the festive season, ready for next year.’

9. Maximalism

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‘Let’s face it, maximalism is the only decorating scheme that reflects the true spirit of the Christmas season,’ says Lucy. ‘Indulging and taking on the “more is more” philosophy is a fool-proof method for creating an inviting and playground-like space for those creative souls to explore and let their imaginations run wild. Don’t worry if your Christmas decorations feel too eccentric or kitsch. In fact, this is exactly what you should be aiming for, to create a characterful and one-of-a-kind space. With a carefully selected foundation and a few statement pieces, you can unleash your creativity and indulge with layering to add whimsy.’

Jess Martin, party decoration expert at Ginger Ray, adds: ‘There’s been a resurgence of the Nostalgic Maximalism trend, which lies at the intersection where that garish decor from every early 2000s Christmas movie classic meets the dazzling rainbow-esque dopamine dressing trend that has surfaced this year.

‘To achieve this look, an overly exuberant tree topper is essential. Try the traditional star shape with fairy lights throughout to create a timeless but show-stopping finish for your tree, and to create that sense of nostalgia that Christmas is all about.’

10. For the smallest of spaces

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Mark Scott

For those with the smallest of living rooms, or with little desire to decorate a real tree, this fabulous hanging Christmas tree print makes for a quick and affordable solution that you can easily store away year after year. If you can’t spare floor space or if you have a pet inclined to chew, climb or otherwise terrorise a real Christmas tree, consider wall-mounted artwork instead.

11. Repurpose Christmas cards

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Christmas cards lining windowsills and shelves is a timely decorating trick, but there are more creative ways to utilise them. And they make another great solution for small spaces.

‘You can use the jolly designs on the Christmas cards you have received as a low-cost way to add some extra décor to your walls,’ says Leanne. ‘Find some affordable but festive cardholders in a style and colour to suit your taste to display your cards in any areas of your home that are lacking decorations. Embellish the holders with ornaments to really elevate their appearance.’

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