Tucked away in a small, quaint village in the county of Norfolk, lies Holly’s festive family home. Set back from the road, Merry Christmas signs welcome you as you step through a small gate, giving you a taste of what’s to come. Walking down the garden path to a pink semi-detached home, Holly later reveals her son has been asking if they can repaint the house white.
Once you’re through the front door all those wonderful childhood memories of stepping into Father Christmas’ grotto come flooding back. Paper snowflakes hang from the ceiling in the kitchen, festive candles scent the rooms and foliage is used to decorate shelves and mantelpieces. A potted Christmas tree, delicately decorated, takes centre stage in an old bread bin on a stool by the sink. Despite the dreariness of a cold December day looming outside, it is warm, rustic and homely.
We counted six Christmas trees dotted about Holly’s home. All lovingly decorated with different themes and handmade decorations, it’s clear that Christmas is a season to be celebrated in the Grundy household!
~ Our Large Coconut Jute Rug in the kitchen continues the natural, rustic theme throughout Holly’s home ~
As you walk through from the kitchen into the dining room those nostalgic childhood memories are heightened further still. Traditional decorations, like a pair of old ice skates, hang from rustic wall hooks, foraged foliage from the garden lines a large central blackboard and ornate candlesticks, while Holly’s DIY additions create a homely and festive feel.
Dried oranges and popcorn garlands hang from the tree and mini Christmas trees have been popped inside vintage Kilner jars with a flurry of fake snow for an inexpensive display. Everyday items are repurposed too – from old window frames to salvaged wood panels for making signs and garden soil sieves cleverly hung on the walls and used for shelving.
Lots has been taken from the garden too. Sprigs of holly are tucked into Holly’s vast collection of vintage white jugs in the display cabinet, large pinecones line the fireplace, homemade wreaths adorn the walls while offcuts of fir and pine fill stockings and old milk cans. Foliage is easy to find – from our gardens to wild hedgerows – or even from your local florist. A large bunch of holly or ivy can be separated and divided between vases for a beautiful table display or bunched together for an impressive mantelpiece arrangement.
Holly has a magical way with lighting too. Cleverly placed lamps illuminate dark corners, garlands of fairy lights decorate window panes and mirrors, while the bright lights of the many Christmas trees bring a cosy and homely feel to every room.
If we thought the dining room was festive, the living room did nothing short of taking our breath away. The open fire, the stockings lining the mantelpiece below a beautifully handmade garland, the two large Christmas trees placed either end and colourfully decorated, the presents and fabric sacks beneath the tree – ‘I just fill them with plastic bags!’ laughs Holly – and all the thoughtful finishing touches that make this room such a joy to be in. ‘The lead up to Christmas is very special to me, and I try to make it as magical as possible for the boys’,’ explains Holly. ‘ Every room gets a touch of Christmas in our house. It only comes once a year so why not make it as special and beautiful as you can?’
A rented property that was in dire need of a lick of paint when they first moved in two and half years ago, Holly has made this house a beautiful and welcoming home. ‘It was very dated, with dark green carpet throughout and magnolia walls. The first things we did were to paint the whole house white, re-carpeted the bedrooms, lounge and stairs, and laid new vinyl in the dining room, bathroom and kitchen.’
Whilst renting can bring with it its limitations when it comes to decorating and putting your own stamp on it, Holly has overcome these with innovative, inspiring and inexpensive ideas. ‘We didn’t like the fireplaces here as they were very dated and just not to our taste. So, we made a basic cover from fire board and MDF to cover the existing fireplace, which can be lifted away if we were to ever leave,’ Holly explains. ‘A beam placed on top gives a rustic and unique look while pretty curtains in interesting patterns/textures can help to hide ugly windows and appliances. Changing hardware on internal doors can completely transform their appearance too.’
The exposed brickwork seen in the living room – which adds a rustic, farmhouse feel – is actually wallpaper. Holly’s advice to hide less-than-attractive fireplaces – for her ‘the heart of the home’ – can be reimagined for covering radiators too. Use salvaged second-hand mantelpieces – which, in turn, provide a perfect perch for displaying wreaths and decorations. A salvaged chipped door holds a letterbox addressed to the North Pole while old buckets beside the fire hold kindling and branches of foliage.
In the kitchen, Holly tells us she had new cabinet doors made to replace the old melamine-style ones and simply painted them white for a rustic feel. ‘A lick of paint and some new furnishings can make a big difference,’ she explains. ‘Think outside of the box and don’t necessarily follow the rules. Your home is what YOU make it, and it is unique just like you are. Think about what style best suits you and your family and work from there.’
A gentle nod to Holly’s favourite Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life, can be seen throughout, with signs custom-made by a small business Holly found on Instagram, called signsbyrt.
‘We moved house after our family grew and needed more space.’ Holly explains. ‘This house was in a good location for schools and family and was a good size with a very big garden which our boys needed. It might not be my perfect house, but it ticked a lot of boxes for practicality and family life.’
Holly’s home boasts a very unique style. It has character and charm, bundles of second-hand finds that tell a story and handmade crafts and decorations. ‘I would best describe my style as rustic farmhouse with a bit of vintage thrown in. I get a lot of inspiration from American farmhouses and different accounts on Instagram, including @bigfamilylittlefarmhouse, @myrustichouse @homemade_farmhouse, @vintageporch and @thetailoredhaven.’
‘My style has definitely evolved over time, from pretty florals to minimalistic Scandi, but I think I am definitely settled with what we have now. I think it takes time to discover what you truly love, and what reflects YOU on the inside.’
~ Our Burford Painted Corner TV Unit slots in seamlessly with Holly’s neutral, country aesthetic ~
Despite the all-white walls – a commonality if you live in a rented property – Holly has added texture and accessories to make her home feel cosy, timeless and inviting. ‘Lots of texture is key’, she reveals. ‘The more the merrier! It helps to create a warm and cosy atmosphere and also makes the area inviting. Try to add warm tones into a space – beige, cream, off-white, biscuit and wood! Wood is perfect for adding warmth and giving a ‘homely’ look.’
A self-confessed car-boot rooter and reclamation yard rummager, Holly reveals she gathers a lot of her inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest. Sharing her American farmhouse-inspired home on Instagram @theenglishfarmhouse, Holly is a true advocate for DIY and craft projects. Incorporating lots of gingham and check, she reveals that both wood and second-hand finds are brilliant for creating the illusion of a rustic, country home. ‘Try to incorporate vintage or antique pieces in your home that help to give character. Wood is always a good idea for a rustic look. It also creates interest and warmth, and contrasts against a light or plain space.’
A popular DIY theme throughout her home, Holly makes her own rustic signs using reclaimed wood and MDF letters that she finds on eBay.
With the kitchen and dining room flooring next on the to-do list for the new year, Holly explains she would like to revamp the boys’ bedroom too. Much like the rest of their home, Monty and Winston’s bedroom is cosy and comfortable with plenty of vintage charm. ‘I like to incorporate vintage items in their room, so vintage toys, books, artwork and bedding always appeals to me. I want their room to be fun, but to still fit in with the rest of the house and its look.’
A calming space with chippy furniture, soft furnishings, vintage accessories and plenty of foliage, Holly’s bedroom is welcoming and serene. She reveals that keeping ‘a space light and airy, yet cosy and homely’ is what’s important to her when decorating. ‘That is probably what I aim for most. Home is where I am happiest, so it needs to reflect that. I try to make a home that my children will have fond memories of growing up in, and one that won’t be forgotten.’ We absolutely love this sentiment. After all, home is where the stories start.
With Christmas just under a week away, Holly reveals this year will be no different. ‘Christmas Day for us is spent at home, all together, opening gifts and watching films and just enjoying spending time with one another.’
A big thank you to Holly for inviting us into her lovely home – it’s fair to say it made us feel wonderfully festive!