Deck the Halls Like London Designer Hubert Zandberg

Learn how to get into the holiday spirit — without using a stitch of tinsel.
Entryway by Hubert Zanberg
An entryway by Hubert Zanberg in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. Photo by Simon Upton

Decorating for the holidays often conjures images of standard red-and-green color schemes and the quintessential addition of a tree. Not so for the South African–born and London-based designer Hubert Zandberg. He imbues homes with his “touches of decoration” via clever and thoughtful festive design elements.

Nature is a crucial source of inspiration, and functionality is of the utmost importance. While Zandberg encourages the use of metallics, he keeps them to a “light sprinkling” to subtly play off of any natural green decor. His overarching design mandate? “Opulent, but always tasteful,” Zandberg says.

Here’s how to get your home holiday-ready like an interior design pro.

Architectural Opulence

Dining room in London
Photo by Simon Upton

For a dining room in London’s Little Venice neighborhood, Zandberg picked holiday elements that would play well with the homeowners’ collection of archaeological artifacts.

“I added touches of decoration with strong, architecturally shaped pieces like the star and sculptural candlesticks on the sideboard,” he says. “The minimal use of neutral metallics works with the very reflective black carbon-fiber Established & Sons dining table surrounded by Christian Liaigre chairs. It gives the room a contemporary feel while clearly embracing a holiday atmosphere.”

The light fixture and bar trolley are both vintage from Paris’s Clignancourt flea market.

A Natural Approach

Living area in London
Photo by Simon Upton

Zandberg looked to nature for decorative inspiration in a London living room. “We added a large Christmas tree, sumptuous garlands, a vintage oil burner candelabra and filled the marble and Murano crystal bowls on the table with organic finds from nature, like pods, horns and seeds.”

The holiday additions play well with the room’s existing French 1920s feel. “It’s confidently glamorous and festive, but done in a tasteful, monochromatic fashion.” To carry this forward in your own home, he recommends playing with contrasts: “I juxtaposed organic against smooth, and natural against sparkly metallics.”

The Jansen armchair is on an area rug by The Rug Company. The custom screen is covered in a Rubelli fabric.

The Gentleman’s Way

Dining room
Photo by Simon Upton

“No man-made Christmas decorations or glitter!” says Zandberg, describing his mandate for a flat in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. “We only used foraged elements from nature, focusing on sculptural and textural shapes. Our botanical materials included foliage, fruits and nuts.”

He made sure all festive additions to the dining table had a practical use. Case in point: the gilt pineapple ice buckets on the custom dining table. Zandberg also added live succulents to the dining room’s giant wreath to better play into the space’s “handsome gentleman’s club feel.”

Easy Being Green

Console with decoration
Photo by Simon Upton

To create a grand holiday entrance, Zandberg used the foyer’s silver and green Farrow & Ball wallpaper as a starting point. He then accented the green color scheme with shine.

“The terracotta plant pots on the console were exchanged for mirrored pots. It adds an instant seasonal feel,” says the designer. He kept the space “ultra-tasteful by adding only a light sprinkling of white and silver ornaments to complement the natural foliage.”

Cozy corner
Photo by Simon Upton

A Ralph Lauren armchair is next to Louis Vuitton trunks, found at Paris’s Clignancourt flea market. The custom shelves are filled with vintage books found in London.

Chinoiserie Meets Country

Chinoiserie dining room
Photo by Ingrid Rasmussen

“A traditional take on this English country house’s chinoiserie room was the inspiration,” says Zandberg. He happily played off the de Gournay silver wallpaper, which he calls “unashamedly pretty and romantic.” Festive decor elements were covered with a “light sprinkling of silver ‘snow.’ ”

For the wreath and table garland, Zandberg mixed white- and silver-coated leaves with individual bunches of pastel flowers. Antique Chinese ceramic fruits, clear crystal baubles and antique sterling-silver partridges were added to round out the room’s “fantasy country scheme,” says Zandberg.