Willow Crossley has very strong feelings about poinsettias. ‘I can’t bear them! Christmas decorating can be one big cliche with too much glitter and frosting thrown around for my liking.' Now we've got that out of the way, we can look at what the celebrated floral stylist, nature writer and interior designer does love about Christmas (hint: pretty much everything else). We visited her in her Cotswold home, an old farmhouse with plants creeping in through the windows and covering every surface, to find out how she embraces winter and gets ready for the festive season.

'It’s the anticipation, that build up from December 1st. Even though I’m 100% not on holiday in December – it’s one of my busiest times of year – it’s got that energy around it that carries you along. Christmas is a whole month to me, it looks so pretty, we put fairy lights everywhere, and candles, baubles, wreaths and garlands, it’s quite full on. My husband Charlie is a Christmas elf and on December 1st the whole house is fully decorated. We did it very last minute when I was growing up so gradually I’m getting into more his way of thinking. I make so many wreaths and decorate other people’s houses for Christmas that, depending on my energy levels, starting on ours can be quite late in the day. The boys are now at that age where it means a lot to them, so I’m getting much more into it.'


'What do flowers bring to an interior? Everything. They bring light, love, energy. If you’re dressing up a room, without flowers to me it’s completely dead. It’s not alive. The minute you bring them in, it comes to life again. Bringing in scent in the winter is really lovely. Paperwhites and hyacinths would be my favourites to do that with. I always try and bring the outside in, literally! This house is so old, some bits date back to the fifteenth century and upstairs the vines have all grown inside, I have clematis crawling through my bedroom, wisteria on that side and I love that.'

Cosy Time

'Cosy is my favourite thing in the world. In my family growing up, 5 o clock means tea and cake – we call it 'cosy time'. Wherever we all are in the world at 5 ‘o’ clock, I know my brother and my parents will be having cosy time, which I’ve brought into my family. Our family traditions would be geraniums everywhere, cosy time, and at Christmas, carols – my mum would have carols on full blast from December 1st.'

Warm Welcome

'There’s nothing worse than when you walk in somewhere and feel unwelcome. I want people to come in and feel that they’re at home. That’s really important. Lighting is so important, fairy lights are so twinkly and festive, we wrap them around staircases and put them all around the house. The sitting room is filled with fairy lights, lamps, low lighting, and lots of throws and blankets. We have a fire on from pretty much September.'

Favourite Foliage

'At Christmas I’m much more green and lots of foliage, which is actually quite hard a lot of the time, but I do a lot of berried ivy, there’s lots in the garden and I’ll try and use as many plants as I can. Ivy I will always forage. I grew up in Wales so I get a lot from there. Dried hydrangeas at Christmas are a failsafe as well. I use them for all my wreaths and garlands, you can use them over and over again. You pick them before the last frost, around October, then they hold their colour and dry naturally and that’s when you want them for your wreaths.'

My Favourite Things

'I love clothes, but when I worked in fashion, I found the industry to be very competitive and the opposite of nurturing. To me interiors is much more about comfort, I want it to be wholesome and nourishing. Our home is where I want to be able to walk in the door and get that relaxed feeling. The way I style and do interiors is very much about that. It’s never about trends, it’s about what I love - colour and pattern, stripes and lovely textures and old fabrics everywhere. It’s rarely neat although I’m very fussy about how it looks! Clutter to me is what makes it look gorgeous.'


'Stripes, antiques, old fabrics, I’m a complete shopaholic – I get them from eBay, I used to live in France so I spent my whole time in brocantes. I would buy fabrics and had piles of them so I started covering notebooks – because if you only have a small amount all I could do was cover books. I'd also make big bags and sell them on the beach in St Tropez for hundreds of pounds. That’s how my whole business started, with antique fabrics. I like an old faded floral chintz, stripes, it has to be very natural so a shiny polyester or acrylic throw is never going to make me happy. I love a lot of basket and rattan, cottons and linens, the more natural the better.

I’m really bad at practicality. I’ve just upholstered a sofa in pale blue and white, I mean, it couldn’t be more impractical if I tried. I try and be like ‘get off that sofa, you’re not eating on it’ but after about 24 hours it goes out the window. It’s a balance; yes I’m really particular about the way things look, but at the same time, we’ve got three boys, we live in the country, I’m a florist, I live in my wellies. We’ve got a chicken [called Victoria Peckham] and I found her halfway up the stairs this week, she poos everywhere – it’s very much a country house and I love that, I love embracing the wild. As long as it’s clean. A perfect house is soulless to me.’

Soho Farmhouse

Enjoy a winter escape in one of the cosy cabins at Soho Farmhouse, deep in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside.