Laurence and spouse Jackie have been adorning their nation residence for Christmas (Image: Emma Cattell)
There’s a conventional nativity scene within the grand residence of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
Centre stage is a crib for the newborn Jesus and it is likely one of the theatrical designer’s most valued Christmas treasures.
It isn’t, as one would possibly anticipate, a four-poster affair with velvet bedding and a flouncy valance. In actual fact, the holy toddler lays on high of a mouldy crinkle-cut crisp.
‘Considered one of my daughters misplaced the crib after they have been very younger so positioned the newborn Jesus on a ridged crisp as an alternative – and there he has remained for 20 years,’ laughs Laurence, 55.
‘That ridged crisp is now like a holy artefact and yearly I’m terrified it won’t have survived. Nevertheless it all the time does.’
The Llewelyn-Bowens have their very own festive household traditions (Image: Emma Cattell)
Christmas has all the time been a enjoyable household affair within the within the Llewelyn-Bowen family. And it will likely be this yr, even within the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
This is because of that proven fact that his daughters Cecile and Hermione and their companions reside with him and spouse Jackie of their sprawling seven-bedroom, Seventeenth-century manor home within the coronary heart of the Cotswolds.
Additionally in residence is their four-year-old grandson Albion, three spaniels, two cats and a flock of inquisitive chickens who wish to wander into the home.
In some ways, lockdown has been a gown rehearsal for Christmas. ‘Dressing up, over-indulging on the cheese, hitting the drinks trolley at 5pm. Like most individuals, we confused lockdown with an as-much-as-you-can-eat buffet. And as lockdown progressed, everybody in our household obtained dressier and camper – it was Little Home On The Prairie meets RuPaul’s Drag Race. Christmas shall be a lot the identical – however rather more panto!’
It’s gloriously festive. Although that is the primary yr they’ve had a Christmas tree since they purchased the home 13 years in the past.
Complementary garlands add a contact of Christmas spirit (Image: Emma Cattell)
‘One of many points with a home this age is that the ceilings aren’t very excessive, which makes Christmas timber tough. I do know that sounds a bit poncey however the proportions are all mistaken so garlands are rather more suited.
‘They’re all synthetic in very conventional retro darkish inexperienced and purple and blue, colors which all spring out of the couch. My recommendation is to create one thing that appears good within the room – Christmas ought to all the time complement your décor.
‘However Albion was so upset that we’d by no means had a Christmas tree that we purchased one for him this yr. I didn’t need a Kardashian monster – and it’s potted so we’ll put it within the backyard after Christmas.’
Jackie often cooks lunch for 15 household, mates and neighbours. However this yr it would simply be the 9 of them.
There shall be a no-fuss turkey crown from an area farmer with all of the trimmings – utilizing a ‘artful carb’ menu in a bid to shed the kilos all of them piled on throughout lockdown utilizing low-carb and guilt-free flour to make the mince pies and festive desserts.
Within the new yr, Laurence will even begin filming the much-awaited new collection of Altering Rooms, the present that made his title 25 years-ago. Jackie remembers some fairly bushy Altering Room moments from their very own Christmas pasts.
Their inexperienced kitchen is impressed by a bottle of gin (Image: Emma Cattell)
She remembers: ‘In our first flat, Laurence dripped wax onto all of the branches of the Christmas tree to make it appear like hanging crystals. It was so heavy the tree toppled over.’
‘It wasn’t my most interesting hour,’ laughs Laurence. ‘The carpet was f** and a lot of the saucepans have been screwed. It will need to have value 200 quid simply in colored candles!’
As of late Jackie will get rather more of a say of their inside décor – and through lockdown the whole household launched into redecorating the bottom flooring of the home.
‘For the final ten years I’d been filming overseas, and instantly in 2020 I discover myself strolling spherical my backyard like William Morris in a straw hat going: “Oh my god, that is fantastic.” It gave me the inspiration to create new patterns for my collections.
‘Whereas lockdown eroded routines, it additionally introduced us again to specializing in who we’re and what issues are necessary to us. For some purpose, Brits imagine that good style is unobtainable as a result of it’s a must to be ridiculously posh, and unhealthy style is feared as a result of you can be judged by your in-laws or gained’t be capable to promote your own home.
Laurence’s household shall be slicing again on the carbs for his or her Christmas meal this yr (Image: Emma Cattell)
‘The hot button is to convey your character to an area. There’s rather a lot happening in our home however all the things has a reminiscence and is a part of our storytelling. It really works as a result of we solely have issues that we love in our residence.
‘Don’t ever get bullied by the minimalists into hiding all the things in your understairs cabinet. A house must be layered and typically yet another sample is simply what you want. That outdated line from Chanel, “earlier than you permit take one thing off” is b**** … placed on a tiara!’
Laurence’s Damask Dangereuse wallpaper traces the partitions of the newly embellished eating room. And there’s a cloth fabric to match on the desk, which could look fancy however is the truth is a bit of MDF on high of a catering desk with fold-down legs. ‘It’s a really posh nod to Altering Rooms,’ he laughs.
There’s a nude on the wall which has been the playful backdrop to a lot of his Zoom calls and TV interviews. ‘She is known as Velma and my retaliation for the very fact everybody else Zooms in entrance of a bookcase. At one level on BBC breakfast information, my head was between her tits.’
The couple have missed travelling in 2020 and that’s evident of their refurb. He says: ‘Once we completed the kitchen, we regarded on the palm tree wallpaper and the darkish inexperienced cabinet fronts made by Artistic Stylish, that are the identical color as a bottle of gin, and realised we’d turned our stunning Seventeenth-century manor home within the Cotswolds into the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados.’
Their lounge even has it’s very personal secret passageway (Image: Emma Cattell)
In the lounge, there are authentic picket flooring, beams and a secret door within the bookcase with a spy gap. The home was allegedly haunted and there are Seventeenth-century Quaker graves within the backyard.
‘It was uncared for with no sense of its personal character. The very first thing we did was fill it with folks, with gin, with kids and dogs. Then we wallpapered it to inside an inch of its life. Frankly the wallpaper scared the ghosts away!’
Laurence hopes folks will get pleasure from new relationships with their houses. ‘Over lockdown, folks have been 4 beige partitions pondering, ‘why did I’m going for this color?’
They did it as a result of they have been fearful they might by no means be capable to promote it. It’s time to cease seeing our houses as monetary investments however as emotional investments which have saved us secure in these extremely turbulent occasions and introduced our households again collectively.
‘We’ll come out of this higher, extra humane, engaged and assured about who we’re and the way we would like our houses to look. We’re not a beige nation, and in 2021 it will likely be my mission to make Britain vibrant once more.’
Altering Rooms is again in Janurary
Twenty-five years in the past, Altering Rooms exploded onto our screens. With tight budgets, a lot of MDF and DIY disasters, its intention was to remodel the boring interiors of unusual folks’s houses.
It turned one of many BBC’s largest success tales as greater than 11 million viewers tuned in to observe modest semis and council homes get £500 revamps with wobbly four-poster beds, pretend fireplaces and fluorescent tangerine partitions.
It made a star out of Laurence and his velvet fits and trademark paisley shirts.
(Image: Julian Makey/REX)
‘The present launched on the again of a interval the place Dulux’s top-selling paint colors have been ‘white with a touch of apple’ and ‘white with a touch of barley,’ says Laurence.
‘And right here we’re in 2020 the place the top-selling colors are various shades of complete understatement. We’re not a beige nation. We’re the nation of fairly mad eccentrics that spawned William Morris, Terence Conran, Biba, Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.
‘Throughout lockdown folks have been watching 4 beige partitions and saying “this isn’t me!” They’re prepared for some opulence and color. The return of the present actually couldn’t be extra well timed.’
Laurence believes the unique present, which ran from 1996-2004 over 17 collection, was in style as a result of it didn’t edit out the mishaps. ‘That they had the braveness to depart all of the errors in. Everybody obtained carried away, weepy, shirty, stroppy – it actually was the primary TV actuality present.’
There are larger budgets for the brand new present and there gained’t be any wobbly partitions to fret well being and security.
‘None of these have been my wobbly partitions,’ he laughs. ‘In actual fact, in lots of of exhibits, I solely had three house owners who hated what I did. If I may see midway via that the makeover was fully pants, I’d paint a renaissance type panorama and cling it over the fireside. Then at the least the house owners may flog it on eBay.’
And on the different finish of the size, Laurence can be serving to lottery winners to seek out dream houses in a brand new collection for the Discovery Channel.
My Lottery Dream Dwelling Worldwide is coming quickly to Discovery UK. If in case you have gained the lottery or a big sum of cash, contact Past Productions for extra info, [email protected].
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