If the Netflix series The Crown has captured the imagination of the world because of its larger-than-life portrayal of the British royal family, a lot of credit goes to Oscar- and Emmy-winning production designer Martin Childs and his team of set decorators who work on about 400 sets for each season across 90 locations — “40 per episode or one for every minute and a quarter of screen time,” according to Childs.
Before filming, they devote weeks studying the time period for the episodes. “You have to research a decade, distill the style of that decade in your head, and look at millions of photos of the period to get the lessons in your soul,” says set decorator Allison Harvey.
They have to ingeniously create the palaces, estates and gardens on soundstages or transform existing locations into far-flung settings to achieve realism but a lot of attention to detail is needed as well to help the actors enact the drama by feeling like they are in another place and time and actually living the lifestyle of the royals. Thus, the furniture, accessories, and even silver and crystal are all carefully selected, very much how you would do so in decorating your home.
Just like in the series, however, decorating need not be strictly period. “You have to invite the period in all its grandeur and embrace it with extraordinary color without making a caricature of itself. The ’60s didn’t suddenly go Austin Powers and the ’80s didn’t go Dynasty,” Child explains. There are touches of the period but blended seamlessly with preceding ones.
Thus we can take cues from the settings in The Crown for this grandeur for the holidays by using choice pieces of Victorian silver and accessories, but mixing it with our existing interiors and lifestyle when we decorate and entertain.
THE ROYAL BREAKFAST
The queen’s day starts bright with silver accoutrements like an egg cruet and toast rack. When used together with fine linens and crystals, you have a delightful breakfast spread that sets the tone for the day.
THE WORK TABLE
Royals keep things organized for work, with boxes that compartmentalize their paperwork and organize their work desk. Boxes lovingly done in découpage, an artisanal craft practiced in Florence since the 18th century, make the task at hand a pleasure, not to mention the fact that they are interesting conversation pieces.
When Queen Elizabeth had to receive Jacqueline Kennedy, who had made unflattering remarks about her at a party, she was armed with the right tea service that both reaffirmed her status and paved the way for reconciliation as the US First Lady came to apologize.
WINDING DOWN WITH THE CORGIS
After work, the queen relaxes on a rococo settee with her beloved corgis in her sitting room and soft lighting from a Chinoiserie porcelain lamp. The English have always had a predilection for the Orient mixed with their interiors and for the monarchy it brings memories of their visits to the colonies in the East.
The holidays are for family and loved ones. It’s a time to reminisce about past happy times immortalized in precious photos in beautiful frames in the family room. Together with the frames, you can add other favorite objects and boxes with sentimental keepsakes.
Princess Margaret loved partying and entertaining just about anywhere, but she was always equipped with the proper accoutrements like silver champagne buckets with stands and ornate wine coolers that made the event just a little more festive.
CHURCHILL’S DRAWING ROOM
Churchill is in their drawing room with wife Clemmie, recounting his audience with the queen, which he considered a small triumph. A decanter of spirits on a wine table is between them, on standby for the little celebrations of life such as this.
THE GRAND HOLIDAY DINNER
Nothing like a celebration with an abundance of fruits and flowers on a holiday table and, of course, fine silver candelabra and cutlery, china, embroidered linens and crystal. It sets the mood for a marvelous evening with friends and loved ones.
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All Victorian silver and accessories are from AC+632 at 2/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati. Tel. 758-2564 or Viber/WhatsApp 0917-586-0806. Découpage boxes by AC+632 are on display at the Designers Holiday Bazaar at Fashion Walk, G/F Greenbelt 5, and available online at www.designersholidaybazaar.com for the benefit of APEC and STEPS scholars.