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5 ways to decorate your home for Christmas with pre-loved items

·5-min read
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation

From festive table settings to sustainable gift wrapping, it's easy to incorporate pre-loved pieces into your home this Christmas to give items a new lease of life.

'Now more than ever, it's so important to shop in a way which "does good". My work tends to focus a lot on how we can design and decorate our homes with items that support our wellbeing, but the wellbeing of the planet and our local communities needs to go hand in hand with this ethos,' says Joanna Thornhill, interior stylist and author of The New Mindful Home.

Joanna is working with The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and its new Charity Shop Challenge, asking shoppers to make purchases from its shops and online outlets, all while raising funds that could help save lives.

'The thrill of the hunt (and of finding an amazing bargain) is also a key element in the appeal of charity shopping. The buzz of finding something you love can send dopamine levels soaring, leading to a feeling of happiness and contentment that can't really be gained from simply shopping in your average department store,' adds Joanna, who has put together some expert tips on how to style your home this festive season with charity shops finds.

1. Festive Dining

Christmas lunch or dinner is a big part of Christmas Day, when we're able to hopefully de-stress after all the preparations, and gather with our families and loved ones at the same table.

'Mismatched crockery can create a less formal look, though if you want to retain a level of uniformity, try mixing from just two or three different sets, layering up a dinner plate from one then placing a different side plate and soup bowl on the top, for a decadent yet co-ordinated look,' Joanna explains.

To bring extra glitz to your tabletop, Joanna suggests using vintage beaded necklaces as alternatives to napkin rings. It can also act as a take-home favour for any guests or bonus gifts. Simply wind the beads round your napkins then add in a sprig of foliage for an extra styling touch.

You can also dot little vintage figurines along your tabletop amongst cuttings of foliage and Christmas baubles, to add some character to the overall look.

To elevate sweet treats on the table, create a DIY cake stand or raised display plate by placing a pretty vintage dish on top of an upturned glass bowl. 'To turn the stand into something more permanent, fix the underside of your plate to the underside of a bowl (ensure it has a flat base) using some superglue or epoxy glue that's suitable for ceramic applications,' Joanna suggests.

2. Christmas Cabinet Styling

Photo credit: British Heart Foundation
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation

Transform a glass-fronted bookcase by adding some thrifted fabric inside its doors, enabling you to use it as storage for items you might not want out on show.

To get the look, Joanna explains: 'Cut two lengths of fabric to slightly longer than the height of each door, and around 1 1/2 times each door's width, then hem all sides, incorporating a small channel at the top and bottom (if you don’t have a sewing machine, using iron-on wundaweb would work, too). Screw some metal net curtain "eyes" inside the top and bottom corners of each door (on the inside), then cut four lengths of net curtain wire just slightly shorter than the horizontal gaps between the eyes. Thread the wire through the top and bottom of each panel, attach a net curtain hook onto each end, then secure in place by hooking them into the eyes.'

To style your cabinet, create an alternative mini Christmas tree by gathering garden twigs and stand them in a vase or vessel (here Joanna's used a vintage coffee pot from a BHF store), then decorate with some lightweight baubles. This will create a striking centrepiece on a sideboard or tabletop. For an extra touch of glitz, try spray painting your twigs with gold or sleek silver.

3. Add festive touches to the bedroom

Photo credit: British Heart Foundation
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation

A Christmas bedroom doesn't have to be OTT, but just a few small touches can go a long way. 'Adding a few carefully chosen Christmas ornaments to shelving, or hanging lightweight decorative pieces from wall lights, brings in a cosy, cute nod to the season,' Joanna says. 'Make the most of a metal headboard by weaving round a string of pretty fairy lights or lanterns for extra ambience on Christmas morning.'

4. Create a fashion area for your festive glad rags

Photo credit: British Heart Foundation
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation

'Room dividers are back in fashion, as many of us seek out ways to carve up larger spaces for multiple uses – we found this striking one, in on-trend rattan, in a BHF store and used it to create a dressing area within a bedroom,' Joanna says.

Joanna also urges us all to think outside the box when it comes to keeping our rooms clutter-free. Here, a vintage bamboo magazine rack works as a shoe holder, while a vintage suitcase offers handy storage for extra clothes and bedlinen.

5. Alternative gift-wrapping ideas

Photo credit: British Heart Foundation
Photo credit: British Heart Foundation

Create a personalised Christmas Eve box with a small vintage suitcase that can even take on a new guise once the festive season ends. Joanna explains: 'You'll often find charming vintage suitcases in BHF stores – turn one into a fun "lucky dip" for children this Christmas by filling it with shredded paper, then burying a bunch of smaller wrapped gifts within it. And post-Christmas, it could be used as a chic spot to store toys in, too.'

When it comes to buying gifts, a secondhand purchase, like vintage toys, is a great way to find something unique and personal. You could even create your own bespoke gift set or hamper using a selection of charity finds.

• To support the BHF this Christmas simply head to your nearest store or browse the BHF's online outlets – eBay and Depop. You can also share your finds on social media using the hashtag #BoughtAtBHF.

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