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Posts tagged ‘Decoration’

Christmas in Bruges… Decoration immersion

For a city trip at Christmas time, Bruges in Belgium pretty much has it all. Christmas markets…tick! Mulled wine (laced with amaretto – serious yum)…tick! Cute medieval houses surrounded by quaint little canals… multiple tick! Soothing chocolate and hearty food to be consumed by a crackling fireplace by candlelight… tick again! But for that most important of all things at Christmas, the handmade, unique, home-changing, life-enhancing tree decoration…well Bruges gets the biggest tick of all! Yes, yes, yes, for those like me who love a good Christmas decoration, this is the city where it’s at. Only one thing… make sure you take a hearty wallet with you in turn.

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While we weren’t overly impressed with the quality of the decorations in the Christmas markets themselves, the array of superbly high quality decor available in some of Bruges’ cutest little boutiques has the power to take the breath away, and transport the shopper into a kind of quasi-imaginary childhood paradise all at the same time. These are not just shops, they are veritable grottoes, like the archetypal Santa’s workshop lined with more decorations than you could take in on multiple-visits, crammed full of variously themed trees, layer upon layer of glass, metal and wooden baubles, figurines, nutcrackers, incense burners and candelabras to name but a few.

Chief amongst these shopping gems is De Witte Pelikaan, a true Winter Wonderland on two floors, whose many trees are hung with such a unceasing delight of extravagantly shaped baubles of every shape and size that we left with large dents in our bank accounts, but with many delights to show for it. Then there are the legendary boutiques of Käthe Wohlfahrt (of which Bruges has two) – a dazzling European Christmas brand, and it’s not hard to see why. This is the true wood-based grotto-like delight that festive dreams are made of. We came away with little hand-carved wooden characters which have already added enviable quality and character to our London tree. As with all these decorations, we know that we will delight in that moment of unwrapping them each year, allowing the memories of their purchase to flow forth into the winter air and fill our home with happiness.

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It’s hard to fully capture the incredible atmosphere of Bruges’ Christmas shops on camera, not least because, at this time of the year, they are understandably heaving. However, here are a few photos to give some idea of the array of delights on show, as well as a few shots from Bruges’ equally festive churches, thrown in for good measure.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Christmas Comes Home: Party time!

I’m not ashamed to spend many an hour making my home wonderful for Christmas just for myself and my partner to enjoy. Who else really matters? After all, it is us who get the ultimate pleasure of waking and sleeping to lights twinkling like an enchanted forest all around us. Nevertheless, there is something of the Nigella in me, and I can’t help but revel in the opportunity to share my winter wonderland with friends. So in this last post extolling the virtues of my home at Christmastime, why not take a glimpse of the flat all trussed up for a small soiree we held last weekend.

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Central to the event was the table. A vase at its centre hosted a flurry of discarded Clapham Common tree branches. What the wind had cast asunder, I recycled, creating the perfect skeleton for a cornucopia of lights and dazzling gold and glass decorations. On those branches, our glass treasures from Venice have never looked so beautiful, hanging freely, suspended in mid air, rather than getting caught up in the denser gathering of Christmas tree branches. Beneath this composition, a plethora of festive food gathered: a cheese board bedecked with berries and nuts, freshly cut meats from Italy and, best of all, the “Merookies” (a cross between meringues and cookies) recently featured on the newest Christmas episode of Nigella Lawson’s At My Table series. With an exquisite salty pistachio balance to the sweetness of the meringue and the rich depth of chocolate chips, I was completely sold on these Nigella creations. So was everyone else – they disappeared in seconds.

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I love Christmas parties. I love sharing with friends. And I love seeing my home so pristine in its presentation for a night out on the town. But even more, I love the clearing up at the end of the evening – when empty champagne flutes tell of hours of merriment enjoyed, and the crumbs of cookies and Christmas biscuits intermingle with fallen shards of glitter flickering in the dying candlelight. Home sweet home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Christmas Comes Home: The Kitchen Tree

I am ashamed to see that the last post on my blog is entitled “An Autumn Overview”. It’s shocking testimony to the fast passage of time. Now in mid-December, the comforting glow of Autumn leaves have been replaced by ice and snow. But December brings with it a very joyous respite from the arrival of cold in the form of the festive season – simply my favourite time of the year. And while work has largely prevented me from hanging out on The Daily Norm, it has not precluded me from that most important of annual tasks: decorating the Christmas tree.

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will know that I love Christmas decorations, to an almost obsessive degree, and while I always make a few small tweaks to my scheme as each year goes by, I enjoying taking out the old familiar decorations year on, year out. However, this year, as if in celebration of our return to London and the house redecoration that accompanied it, I’ve shaken things up a bit in the Christmas decoration department.

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The modernist black trees of old went into black bags, and out came an altogether more traditional look. Sage and forest greens now host warm oranges, berry reds and a little silver and black (a small nod to the modern surroundings). Glass carrots and green glass mushrooms bring something of a culinary vibe, while ravishingly regal cheetah heads sit proudly upon their festive boughs. And as if to complete the animal theme, underneath the tree, fox furs and presents round off the scheme with a cosy but finessed twist.

And that’s just the lounge. In the bedroom we’ve gone all white and frosty, like a scene from Dr Zhivago. But I’m going to save that until next time…

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© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Revealing my Festive Wonderland

A few weeks ago, the three photos I posted signified the official arrival of Christmas in my home, even though back then it was still November. Now, some 30 Christmas trees later (most of which were for work I should add), time has galloped onwards and as only ten days remain until the full celebration of Christmas truly begins, there can be no doubt that we have well and truly arrived at the festive season. What better time then to share with you the very Festive Wonderland which is this year’s Christmas manifestation of my home.

Christmas decoration is very much part of my annual creative calendar. I relish the opportunity to transform my home with seasonal touches which have the power to add insuperable cosiness and magic in every corner. Thus, over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of baubles and trees which, while changing slightly throughout the years, retains the same core of cherished pieces, each involuntarily launching their own sentimental tale of memories past. However, the rather open-plan layout of my apartment in Mallorca means that my various trees, which in London would have each graced separate rooms, are here seen together in more of a unified space. The effect is quite magical, as tree is reflected in tree, and different coloured light sparkles across the entire living space.

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So here I present a miscellaneously mixed magical gallery of decorating touches, featuring bauble details, whole tree portraits, and my favourite photos of all – those blurred out of focus light landscapes which in themselves seem to carry the festive magic which is the effect given by such a mixed scheme of light and glitter.

Merry Christmas everyone!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Three photos suggesting the onset of Christmas

It’s the 25th November. Which means only one thing: no no, not black Friday. I would frankly rather pay double the original price than fight my way to near death for the sake of a much tried and tested cut-price pair of Calvin Klein boxers. No, the 25th November means that the final countdown to Christmas has finally begun. And with one month to go, its time for the sceptics and the anti-festive moaners to return to their holes of gloom, for the festive season is truly upon us. And indeed in my home, its onset has come early.

Yup, that’s right, my home is well and truly a Christmas wonderland as this year I took to decorating even earlier than usual. The reason is largely a practical one – travelling a lot during the latter weeks of November and the early ones of December, I pretty much knew that it was now or never. And as the evenings get even darker as each day passes, I am surely enjoying the festive cheer which this prompt decorating spree has brought.

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So as we begin this final month’s countdown to Christmas day, here are three photos – just small snapshots from my very Christmassy home – suggesting that the onset of Christmas, at least in my world, is very much here. Merry pre-christmas everyone!!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Reinventing the Ribbon: My Christmas Trees, 2015

As a largely self-appointed Christmas tree expert (although to be fair, I was the official House of Fraser Christmas decoration expert in 2014 don’t you know…) the festive season is always a busy time for me, and that is just with the four trees that spring up lovingly in my house. But this year, I had the charge of some additional 18 trees for my employment, as well as my parents’ tree back in the UK, bringing this year’s efforts to a grand total of 23 trees. That’s a lot of baubles, lights, prickly branches and this year’s addition – ribbon – to contend with. Is it any wonder the Daily Norm has been so quiet of late? But finally I am in a position to share some of the fruits of my labours with you, my dear readers.

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Rather than focus on each tree in detail, I have instead decided to bombard you with a post full of photographs showing decorative detail. The trees featured largely comprise those in my own new Mallorca home, all four decorated in a unique and individual scheme of their own. But also featuring are a few of the trees I put up for my employer. Across the board, and as I have already mentioned, the newcomer of the season has been ribbon.

I was always a big fan of tinsel, despite its reputation as protagonist of the 80s, to such an extent that some would almost declare its adornment today to be “vintage”. However, my mantra has always been that anything is better than the draped strings of beads of the 90s, and for this reason, tinsel, which glitters and sparkles from every angle has always been a feature of my trees. But tinsel is scarcer out here in the Mediterranean, and when a chance visit to a local florist saw me rummaging in big box of multi-coloured ribbons like a child on Christmas morning, I was hooked. For the way it can crumple and crease, wave and undulate, hang in loops and in haphazard formulations across a tree, I was a tinsel-man transformed. And now all of my trees feature this truly versatile construct, in every colour and texture. For me the result is a level of elegance which my trees have not reached before and which, when coupled with branches fully loaded with baubles both monochromatic and patterned, round and cutely shaped, produces a truly festive display, both at work, and at home.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.    

My Christmas Wonderland, Part II

It’s day two of my Christmas decoration posts, and today I’m sharing my two “glamour” trees, a stonking-great cornucopia of exquisitely sparkling, extravagantly baroque, exorbitantly lavish Christmas decoration, the crystal-encrusted gems of my yuletide collection, decked out with the kind of elaborate ornamentation which only this exorbitant festive season will allow.

Venetian-Parisian Glamour

In my lounge, which is itself a homage to Parisian chic, decked out in black and white with splashes of vivid cadium red, my contemporary black tree exudes the spirit and sophistication of a European masquerade ball, with sparkling silver Venetian masks interspersed with glittering red Eiffel towers. My favourite baubles are those of transparent glass which have a small glass chandelier inside. They looks amazing when lit from behind by my steadily flashing pure white lights which enhance the sparkle throughout my tree.

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Traditional Splendour

From continental glamour to traditional splendour, my new kid on the block this year is my lavish new hall-way tree, a suitable Christmas spectacle to greet guests to my home. This tree is bedecked with every kind of indulgent frippery, from gilded Louis XV arm chairs and glittering masks, to sparkling dragon flies and red old fashioned telephones. Amongst my favourite curiosities which have made their way onto this tree, I love my very appropriate festive London 2012 olympic mascots dressed in their beefeater and soldier uniforms, as well as my simple red baubles painted with Christmas puddings. The more unusual decorations on this tree are bound within a unifying theme of red, green and gold, reflected in both the lighting and the monochrome baubles, all of which combine to give great balance to this tree.

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Finally, all the golden glamour of my hallway decorations is reflected in this little installation created on my sideboard – a panoply of gilded treasures with ruby red crackers, all culminating to create some festive fun which is deliciously exuberant. That’s my Christmas all over.

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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How Lavishly Decorated Are Your Branches… (Part 1)

It’s that time of the year again. Dusting off the baubles, fluffing up the squashed tinsel, and finding that the fairy lights have broken, fused, lost a bulb or have become completely tangled requiring three hours of painstaking work to redress the problem. Yep, it’s time to decorate again, to fill our homes with festive cheer, lights dazzling aplenty, glitter sparkling, and a sense of joy reignited after a year of economic depression, rubbish weather, riots, European crises and all that kind of thing…

Now being the artistic chap I am, it will not surprise you that I take great care in decorating the offices of the Daily Norm each year (i.e. my home). I do not restrict my attempt to one tree either. In fact, I have four principal trees, one in each room, each decorated in such colours and style as reflect their interior designed surroundings, along with a variety of smaller trees and Christmas installations to compliment, and ensure that festive joy is spread into every corner of my home. Now everyone knows that Christmas is a time for sharing, so I thought it only appropriate that I feature my very own trees in today’s edition of the Daily Norm. But, since I fancy myself to be something of a skilled tree decorator, I thought I’d also impart with you all my top fail-proof tips for decorating the perfect tree. Follow my guidance and you cannot fail to impress this year, thus helping to extend the Christmas spirit further by making your friends and family alike completely jealous (this being the unfortunate result of their not reading The Daily Norm…) However for all that guidance, you need to wait until tomorrow I’m afraid. For today, let’s take a look at my trees…

My first tree stands in my lounge which follows a strict red/black decorative scheme. Consequently, complimenting its surroundings is my sophisticated black tree, decorated in a tight scheme of silver, red and white baubles with white LED flashing lights, red tinsel and some very lavish Venetian masks and, even better, Parisian sparkly Tour Eiffels to boot. Et voila…

Black tree with venetian masks, Eiffel towers, red, silver and white decorations

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