Sustainable Christmas décor ideas
We spoke to Persimmon ambassadors Johnny and Adam of @benjis_newmore, about their new home journey and their tips for putting an eco-friendly spin on your Christmas decorations.
All images: @benjis_newmore
Hi Johnny and Adam! Great to meet you. Would you mind introducing yourselves?
Hi! We’re Adam & Johnny and our four legged friend Benji, and we reside at Benji’s Newmore. We love taking a step back from the hustle bustle of everyday life, and spending time outdoors in nature going for long walks with Benji in the countryside and by the coast.
We’re both very creative and have a background in design, and we love upcycling vintage furniture and other unique items for our small business, Godwin Vintage.
Your creativity definitely shines through in your lovely home! Could you tell us a bit more about your Newmore?
We purchased our home in April 2021 just as lockdown restrictions in Scotland were starting to lift, and our lovely brand new home was ready to move into in October 2021.
After many years of renting we were desperate to get onto the property ladder and buy our first home. We knew that we wanted a house with a small garden for Benji to enjoy, and preferably three bedrooms so that we could have a home office (especially when working from home became the norm) and a spare bedroom for guests.
The Newmore fit the bill perfectly! The location was great – semi rural so plenty of walks in the countryside for Benji, with a reasonable commute to Glasgow. It has a garden, three bedrooms (one of which we use as a home office), a main bathroom, ensuite for the main bedroom, and a downstairs loo. The open plan kitchen diner has French doors leading onto the patio, this really helps to blur the boundaries of the indoor and outdoor living space. It’s great to have such open views of our garden whilst cooking or enjoying a meal.
So what was it that drew you to buying a new build home with Persimmon, over a more traditional house?
The main reason we opted for a new build was that they are generally a fixed price. We had initially looked at buying an existing property, but not being familiar with property market in Scotland we were caught out with the ‘offers over’ system. We quickly discovered that we were constantly being outbid on existing properties by other bidders offering way over the home report value. A new build was definitely a better option as the price you see is the price you pay. Plus everything is nice and shiny and new, a blank canvas on which to put out own stamp.
One of the reasons we went with Persimmon was Finishing Touches. Depending on the development stage of the property you can choose whether or not to upgrade the fittings and fixtures. Being on a limited budget this was perfect for us, as it meant we were more in control of our finances and could pick and choose which things to upgrade and only pay for those (rather than paying for lot of upgrades that we didn’t want or that would stretch our budget).
To save money we only chose a few upgrades from the Finishing Touches range. We upgraded the kitchen and also upgraded the shower in the ensuite to a rain shower, along with a few other upgrades.
How would say your personalities influence your interiors style?
Our new home was a fresh blank canvas – and we just knew we wanted to put our own stamp on it and inject some of our personality and character. Our style is very much vintage with a modern twist, elegant and sophisticated (think vintage Chesterfield sofa and panelled walls).
We like unique and quirky things that can’t be bought from any high street/chain store which is one of the reasons a lot of our interior included upcycled pieces of furniture. Not only does opting for upcycled rather than mass produced add individuality and character to our home, but it’s also more sustainable and far better for the environment.
We like to add darker tones to the décor as this helps create a real cosy ambiance (when cleverly layered with lighting), in which to relax and read a book or watch a movie.
Oh – and we love plants! Studies show that lots of house plants to help bring the outdoors in can be great for mental wellbeing.
We’re now well and truly into the festive season! What does Christmas look like in your home?
This will be our second Christmas in our new home. Last year we had not long moved in and were still in the process of getting the house sorted, so Christmas was a bit of an afterthought with a tree and not much else! A year later and we have our home exactly how we want it, so we can now focus more on Christmas.
We will certainly have more decorations to celebrate Christmas this year, and we prefer the more traditional and natural decorations with lots of greenery, fir cones, berries etc. We try to limit the colour pallet so as not to look to busy. To get into the festive spirit we both like to come up with ideas for decorations, and we decorate the tree together with a glass of mulled wine (with Benji supervising and helping choose baubles).
Sounds perfect! How do you incorporate sustainability into your Christmas decorations?
Given our passion for vintage and upcycled things, it goes without saying that we prefer eco-friendly and handmade decorations where possible. Getting the creating juices flowing and making our own decorations from natural materials can be nostalgic fun and adds individuality to our Christmas décor, but also reduces the amount of plastic. If we’re out for woodland walks with Benji, we’ll sometimes forage for twigs, berries, holly, and fir cones. These all make great natural decorations for a Christmas wreath, garland, tree, or even just as embellishments for wrapped gifts.
This year we are really focused on reducing the unnecessary cost of Christmas as much as possible (along with plastic waste). It's reminiscent of Christmases from the past, when décor was made from simple things such as gathering greens and berries from woodlands.
We love that dried orange slices and other fruit are making a comeback in Christmas décor. Again going back to the nostalgia of Christmases from the past, this is one of the easiest ways to add a bit of simplicity to your Christmas décor.
Eco advent calendar
Always a fan of the good old advent calendar, this year we decided to do something a little different. Instead of buying the usual ones from the supermarket, we opted to make our own using small drawstring hessian bags hanging from a decorated branch by pieces of string.
While out on one of our dog walking/foraging trips we found a piece of fallen branch (only take things that have already fallen – please don’t go tearing down things from trees). Back home we decorated it with greenery, berries, dried fruit, and fir cones before hanging 24 small hessian bags each numbered 1 to 24. For the gifts we used miniature bottles of different rum from around the world for the ultimate festive tasting experience (well it is Christmas after all). Alternatively you could use chocolate coins and other sweet treats.
How are you feeling in the lead up to Christmas this year?
Now that we’ve had a little over a year to settle in, we’re both looking forward to spending our second Christmas in our first home. This year we (like most other people) are also feeling the pinch and are looking to cut costs wherever we can. But cutting costs doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun, decorating our homes and enjoying the festivities. We’re just more mindful of where our money is best spent, while also doing our bit to save the planet.
Switch off all the lights and create a cosy ambience with candles and decorative lighting. Turn the heating down a notch of two, wear a jumper and cosy up with a wool throw and a glass of warm mulled wine, or a hot chocolate with marshmallows.
It can take a while to turn your new blank canvas house into a home and put your own stamp on it, but by welcoming you into our home we’ve hopefully given you some ideas and inspiration on how you can achieve this.
From the three of us, we hope you have a very merry Christmas.