Interior Design

Susie Watson's interior design tips – the dos and don'ts masterclass

With her timeless English country style, Susie Watson's designs are much sought after. Here she shares with us some of her advice on how to create a successful scheme for the holiday season (and beyond)

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(Image credit: Suzie Watson Designs)

The founder of the company that bears her name, Susie Watson creates unique fabric designs, handmade furniture, pottery and home accessories, while also running a design service offering her uniquely English take on interiors to homeowners across the country. 

We asked her for some of her decorating dos and don'ts at Christmas – from how to introduce color and what lighting to use, to how to bring a quintessential country-style touch to your festive scheme. Read on for her wonderful interior design tips, and get more Christmas decorating ideas in our dedicated feature.

1. How to decorate for the holidays

Susie-Watson-dos-and-donts

(Image credit: Susie Watson Designs)

Here, Susie Watson advises what to do (and what to avoid) when decorating for Christmas.

  • Try new textures and patterns. The warmth and vibrancy of kilim cushions and rugs are the perfect choice for this time of year.
  • Layer your lighting. This includes wall lights and table lamps; try to bring additional comfort with colorful and textured shades.
  • Blend old with new. A considered and inviting room manages to make even the newest item look like it’s been there forever.
  • Consider fragrance. Gently spiced candles and a real tree are at the heart of that unforgettable festive scent we all want in our homes at Christmas.

And here are the elements Susie says you should avoid...

  • Don't leave the table bare. A simple tablecloth creates the ideal backdrop for cosy suppers throughout the winter.
  • Don't rule out faux flowers. Artificial blooms are attractive, more realistic nowadays and give you flexibility to mix and match varieties throughout the year.
  • Don't become beholden to trends. Christmas is uniquely personal and bringing out the decorations year on year is part of its charm.
  • Avoid bold, deep colors. They can be particularly striking in darker seasons, when we lose so much natural light.

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Red Stripe Robin and Rosehip Christmas tablecloth, from £98; upholstered farmhouse dining chairs, £385 each, all Susie Watson Designs

(Image credit: Suzie Watson Designs)

2. How to successfully mix new and old

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(Image credit: Suzie Watson Designs)

Susie is a big fan of combining classic heirloom pieces with new additions. Here's her advice on how to make it work in your home.

  • Create a sense of belonging. When buying new, think about going for something that is slightly aged-looking with natural character so it blends seamlessly.
  • Invest in classic looks. The special pieces that will be loved and last a lifetime.
  • Embrace different finishes to give a room character. It’s a myth that everything has to perfectly match.
  • Start a tradition. A festive napkin, serving dish or decoration with a family history adds something special when brought out at Christmas.

And according to Susie, here's what not to do when mixing old with new pieces...

  • Don't pay attention to trends or fads. Everything is cyclical anyway and will come back around – always choose what you love and forget about what’s in fashion.
  • Don't be afraid to bid. Get to know your local auction house – you’ll often find interesting, unusual pieces that will surprise you.
  • Don't save something for best. It’s sad to keep your nicest things tucked away in cupboards – dust off your china and enjoy using it everyday.

Susie-Watson-dos-and-donts

(Image credit: Suzie Watson Designs)

3. How to introduce countryside touches

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Carved square kilim footstool, £945; blind
in Red Rose linen, £72m; embroidered winter lovebirds cushion, £62, all Susie Watson Designs

(Image credit: Suzie Watson Designs)

Here's how to get a country-style look to your scheme, according to Suzie.

  • Select natural fabrics. Choose cotton, linen and wool to connect with the natural world.
  • Consider the wall color and fabrics together. Like painting a picture, you begin with a color wash – a paint or patterned wallpaper – and build from there.
  • Take in the view. Create a harmonious scheme with colors and patterns that will accentuate scenes beyond windows and doors

....and here's what to avoid to ensure you add successful countryside touches to your scheme...

  • Don't crowd your windows. Avoid layering fussy drapes and blinds.
  • Don't pick colors that are artificial or garish. Instead go for earthy shades that have links to nature.
  • Don't be cushion-shy. Find a hero piece with a countryside theme, then add others in complementing linens, silks and velvets.
  • Don't use cold white light. It can often look somewhat clinical – for a cozier feel go for 2700 kelvin bulbs.
Ginevra Benedetti
Ginevra Benedetti

Hello there, I’m Ginevra Benedetti, 

Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens

This naturally feeds into writing for wonderful websites like HomesandGardens.com and IdealHome.co.uk.


Over the years, I’ve interviewed some of the most talented designers in the business and I’ve pretty much written about every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, appliances and home tech, wallpaper and fabric, kitchens and bathrooms, even extensions and conversions.  

I never tire about reading or writing about interiors, from classic timeless designs to innovative smart tech - the subject is always evolving, just as our homes do, year after year.