My favourite space: A grand entrance decorated for Christmas

Candy and Fred Harding's house viewed from the river.
JANE USSHER

Candy and Fred Harding's house viewed from the river.

Christmas may come but once a year, but that doesn't mean you can't spin it out for as long as possible. Candy Harding so loves the festive season that she sometimes leaves a tree up for all 12 months.

Candy, who lives with her husband Fred in a Georgian-style home on the banks of the Avon River in Christchurch, decks the halls with trimmings from all over the world and has as many as four themed Christmas trees throughout the house. The most lavish takes her up to two months to assemble, so little wonder she is loath to dismantle it.

Even without the trappings of Yuletide, the Merivale house is a tribute to the Hardings' meticulous attention to detail. The couple bought the imposing home four years ago.

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The look the couple was after was New York elegance. "We go to the US all the time and like the American look and the way they do things," says Candy. "I wanted a Hamptons style of house."

Candy meets her grandchildren at the front doors, which were copied from a photo of an apartment entrance in Paris.
JANE USSHER

Candy meets her grandchildren at the front doors, which were copied from a photo of an apartment entrance in Paris.

While visiting the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, Candy and Fred chanced upon the Nancy Corzine showroom – and, specifically, designer Devin Buchanan. Devin has been responsible for much of the interior design – choosing furniture, colours (pain was shipped from the US), wallpaper and soft furnishings. Nancy Corzine furniture was made to measure for the living room, master bedroom and stunning foyer, which also features hand painted wallpaper by Paul Montgomery.

Indeed, the Hardings' grand entranceway epitomises Devin's idea that the foyer "should be an experience that sets the tone for the entire house". This is never truer than at Christmas, when the balustrade is wrapped in baubles and the tree is decked in duck-egg blue baubles that perfectly complement the wallpaper.

What are the key features of your foyer? The Richelieu love seat and Versailles console with gold leaf detail are by American designer Nancy Corzine. The soft-duck egg blue hand-painted wallpaper is the colour of the house; the polished marble floor was imported from Los Angeles.

An English rococo mirror sits over the Nancy Corzine Versailles console with gold-leaf detail in the foyer.
JANE USSHER

An English rococo mirror sits over the Nancy Corzine Versailles console with gold-leaf detail in the foyer.

Where do you get your design inspiration? Magazines and travel.  The front doors – decorated with wreaths from Crabtree & Evelyn for Christmas – were copied from a photo taken of an apartment entrance in Paris and made by Christchurch joiner Gary Elsop.

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What's your best advice for other homeowners who are decorating? Trust your instincts and make sure the designer or architect does what you want.

What's your favourite Christmas ritual? Setting up the Christmas stockings for the children. Finding my own as a child is such a happy memory and it gives me as much pleasure doing the same for my own children and grandchildren.

In the entrance foyer Sofia and Madelyn run across the polished marble floor, which was imported from Los Angeles.
JANE USSHER

In the entrance foyer Sofia and Madelyn run across the polished marble floor, which was imported from Los Angeles.

How do you celebrate Christmas? Christmas for us is all about family – it's very traditional. If you saw Fred's Christmas dinner you would be staggered. He's a great cook and he goes to town.  I make Christmas cakes, plum puddings in bags and brandy sauce. On Christmas morning, we gather mid-morning and start the celebrations with bubbles and nibbles while the grandchildren open their stockings. We don't do things by halves. It's everything you think Christmas should be, and more.

The chandelier is a French antique that was shipped to New Zealand hanging on a hook in a big wooden crate.
JANE USSHER

The chandelier is a French antique that was shipped to New Zealand hanging on a hook in a big wooden crate.

 - NZ House & Garden

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