Christmas decorator to the stars
- Credit: Archant
Have you ever wondered who Cheshire’s celebs call in to decorate their homes for Christmas? Well, now we know.
When Adele Gregson’s Cheshire clients pick up the phone to deliver their Christmas wish lists, that’s when their imaginations – and the budgets that go with them – know no limits.
Carousels in the garden, hot air balloons on the lawn, 25ft trees in the lobby, huge feature archways around the door? They’re all on among this year’s requests.
And not forgetting the ultra-fashionable must-have colour scheme for 2020 … Chanel monochrome.
The white, black and gold palette has been so in-demand that Adele, who owns and runs Christmas Decorators Cheshire , has had to send baubles to London to be hand-painted so no style-conscious home goes without.
For the Christmas decorators to the stars, this festive season has been all about sheer extravagance.
“We’ve never been as busy with residential clients as we have been this year and the message we’re getting over and over is ‘we’ve not been on holiday, we’ve not even been able to go out for meals, so we’re going all-out on Christmas whatever that costs.’”
The Christmas Decorators Cheshire install millions of pounds worth of lights, trees, baubles and bespoke decorations worldwide every year. Although 2020 has meant their travels have been curtailed, they’ve seen a huge increase in bookings closer to home.
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Adele’s client roster reads like a VIP guest list – the company has already installed decorations for Manchester City and Liverpool players including Trent Alexander Arnold, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his Little Mix girlfriend Perri Edwards, and Reds goalkeeper Adrian. Boxing legend Amir Khan has had his done by Adele’s team – so too has Lady Tamara Katherine, the Duke of Westminster’s sister, who is hosting a family Christmas at her Cheshire estate.
Often, though, clients’ identities won’t be revealed even to the people tasked with transforming their homes.
“We’ll get a few bookings every year under ‘mystery client’ and then we genuinely don’t know whose house it is because everything will have been arranged through a concierge, an agent or a PA,” says Adele.
Others are only too happy to let everyone know that they’re lavishing so much attention on their homes at Christmas.
The Cheshire Set enjoys vying for the most elaborate and expensive displays.
“A lot of our clients live in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, so we have some who are very discreet and low-key about what they have done, and we have others who really love the whole spectacle of it all,” Adele reveals.
“It’s a glamorous thing to do so they want everyone to see it. When our vans are pulling up at their houses, that’s when they start taking photos – I can see them posted on Instagram before the guys even ring me to let me know they’re there. They’ll post ‘the Christmas Decorators are here!’ and from then on every stage is documented and shared.
“It’s not just about the end product, people like the whole experience – they’re paying for us to deliver Christmas and a big installation can easily take a full day so they get wine out and the Christmas music on. They love watching it, photographing it and putting it on their Instagram; that’s where Christmas begins for them.”
Businesswoman Adele, who lives in Melling on Merseyside, has been decorating the homes of the rich, and the super-rich, for the past eight years, ever since she hired the Christmas Decorators for her own home and liked the idea so much, she bought into it. Hers is one of 50 franchises across the country, set apart as one of only a few which has more residential than commercial customers.
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This year, after completing 116 installations in 2019, she says her mission is to reach 150.
Some will have budgets stretching well into the thousands – the biggest spend for a house decoration in 2020 so far has been £28,000.
But Adele stresses that not every home is a mansion wanting big bauble stacks, nutcrackers and larger-than-life stags on the driveway.
“More than ever, we’ve had people approaching us for smaller jobs,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll be almost apologetic and embarrassed that they don’t live in a huge house, but typically a standard house can start at £500 for lighting and a 6ft tree is £650, fully-lit, fully decorated, including all the design, going in and installing it, going back and taking it all down.
“People who used to do it themselves have saved money this year, because so much has been cancelled, so they think ‘let’s spend it on making the house look really special instead’.”
To give clients extra peace of mind this year, Adele has reduced the size of teams doing installations, they work in bubbles, with full PPE and temperature checks before they go into homes.
Even before the festivities have really started, she is already taking enquiries on social media for 2021 from people who have left it too late for this year or those who want to secure their slots early.
As for Adele’s own home, which she shares with her daughters aged 10 and 14, she’s ignored the Chanel trend and one for peacock shades, and gone for a more traditional red and silver theme.
Although, she admits, there’s a chance it might not look quite so perfect by the time the big day arrives.
“I did my decorations at the end of October and I’ve got a big archway and the nutcrackers, it looks lovely. I’ve actually had people messaging me who’ve seen it on Instagram, asking where I live because they want to come and take photos outside the front door!
“But what usually happens is someone comes on with a last-minute request and whatever I’ve got disappears. It starts with my top staircase garland and within about a week my trees have gone and I’ve got hardly any decorations left.
“I do tell the girls that the clients come first but they hate to see it pulled down so this year, instead of just going in and seeing all these lovely houses decorated, I’m going to keep that for us too.”
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