5 Ways a French Boutique Owner Decorates for the Holidays
She’s not opposed to leaving her tree up year-round.
Published Dec 18, 2023 1:10 AM
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The best gift boutique owner Georgia has ever received is her home in the port town of Rochefort, France. Technically, it wasn’t a “gift” from anyone, but it sure felt like one from the universe. “It was a very long and hard sale,” explains Georgia. On December 13, 2019, the five-bedroom house became hers, and less than two weeks later, the longtime Parisian and her family celebrated their first Christmas there. “It was empty, with only some mattresses to sleep on and a simple Christmas tree,” she recalls. Even though her three children are grown now (Salome is 22; Augustin is 21; Emma is 18), they mark their calendars for the first weekend of December: that’s when Georgia pulls out the holiday decorations without fail.
“We put the Christmas music on and get out all the decorative boxes,” says Georgia. “The advantage of them being older now is that I no longer have to display their DIY ornaments made at school with toilet paper rolls!” Against the backdrop of the restored 1880 stone house, which once upon a time used to be two separate homes (they’ve since been connected with a 100-foot-long corridor), Georgia teaches us how to decorate for Christmas the French seaside way.
Find the Tree You Love and Never Let It Go
The Christmas tree isn’t just the heart of Georgia’s living room during the holiday season. She loves it so much, it stays up all year. “I found it two years ago on a walk,” she shares. “My husband brought it back on his bicycle. He wasn’t very happy, but now he loves it.” (It’s a running joke that anytime she sees an interesting-looking branch outside, he’s afraid he’ll have to lug it home.) But the white tree, while artificial, was a smart investment in that its neutral color allows it to blend in with the white living room when there are no ornaments on it. And when it is that festive time of year, it fittingly looks dusted in snow.
Extend the Twinkly Lights to Lone Branches
Between fa-la-las, there is always some foraging—specifically for sculptural branches on the forest floor. To really create a soft and luminous atmosphere, Georgia wraps them in lights, too. The one that sits in the large white jug on top of the credenza is from the banks of the Charente River.
Nail the Organic Look by Turning to the Yard
While long walks in the neighborhood account for a number of Georgia’s winter greenery, most of it comes from the garden, where she can pull sprigs from her olive and laurel trees (the latter of which she’ll use to DIY crowns). Eucalyptus can also be found throughout, often in a large yet casual bundle like the one displayed in a wire basket in the corridor. “I love it for the scent,” she says.
Sub in Crockery as a Candleholder
On the kitchen table, Georgia displays a mix of old and new dishware, but not all are for serving foie gras or oysters (their favorite holiday snacks). The soup tureen has been transformed into a candelabra of sorts with the help of some sturdy taper holders and eucalyptus sprigs. Above, Georgia made hanging lights with strips of plaster molded over a basin and a flowerpot base. “An economical and easy-to-make idea!” she notes.
Decorate With Past Presents
The best way to evoke warm memories over the holidays is to have the actual items that gave you those feelings in the first place around. Over the desk in the living room is an assemblage of gifts from Georgia’s family. Her favorite is an illustration by Frédéric Forest that shows two hands entwined—a gift from her husband. “It’s the symbol of our love,” she shares, “my hand in his hand…and we are strong together.”