Christmas Gift Guide Room by Room: The Sitting Room

Well I feel it might be hard to top the kitchen gift guide which resonated with so many of you but for those who are rarely in the kitchen at parties – or unless it’s absolutely necessary at any other time then let’s move to the sitting room. This is a bit of a catch all when it comes to presents as it’s a room in which so many things can (and do) happen. So you can go in two directions; either buy something for the room that you think the occupant will like, or base your gift around the various activities that might happen in that room. Where possible I have also tried to suggest a vintage alternative as I’m aware that not everyone likes or wants new in the same way that several of the kitchen gifts were sustainable solutions to kitchen items.

So with that in mind I’m going straight in with the gift for the whole family that will please the resident designer in chief as well.


from around £800 for 43″

Samsung's The Frame television by Yves Behar is designed to look like a picture frame. Artwork: JM-GD 14 PAN by Bohnchang Koo (2006)
Samsung’s The Frame television by Yves Behar is designed to look like a picture frame. Artwork: JM-GD 14 PAN by Bohnchang Koo (2006)

This is one tech present I would be more than happy to receive and it’s unlikely to displease the rest of the household either. One point to note – it needs a little black box near it to hold all wire or controlling parts. This appears to be often edited out and I had no idea it existed until I first saw one in real life. If you look closely at this image you can see a white wire coming down and the box has probably been styled to be behind the table. If you don’t have a media unit or cupboard under your table then you could stand it on a small shelf under the TV. It’s small and it wouldn’t be a design disaster but it’s something to be aware of. Then, as you probably know, you can change the frame and the artwork to suit decor or mood. I’ve now seen them a few times in various houses (including that of television presenter and former editor of Elle Decoration Michelle Ogundehin) and I want one more each time I see it.



leather magazine rack from maisons du monde
leather magazine rack from  etsy

This is for the dedicated non telly watchers on the list. I have used this magazine rack from Etsy (looking for small suppliers where possible)  as an illustration, but there are lots about from very modern to, and this is what I might look for, a vintage one. The sitting room is a great room to shop vintage as you can really find something that will add character to a space. Then, of course, if you want to really push the boat out you can add a magazine subscription for a year and stick that inside the rack for when they open it – along with the first issue.



zara coffee table
zara coffee table

Yes a coffee table. Possibly quite an unusual present but firstly can I point out that Zara Home is really, really strong at the moment and for those who are worried about high street fast fashion, take a look at my Do Less Harm Directory because they would appear to be the best of the high street. So there are lots of really great side tables and stools on the site at the moment, including this for just under £50. So the idea is you start with a coffee table, which might be something nicer than the one you have – remember the perfect Christmas present is about buying someone something they like, need or want (not necessarily in that order) but woudn’t buy for themselves. Then you can build it up from there so the next few presents are things you can put on said coffee table or that you can just buy on their own depending on the budget available.



acrylic backgammon set from
acrylic backgammon set from

If magazines aren’t their thing (and actually lots of magazine racks can double up as log storage so is fire the thing?) then how about a game – that you may not may not want to play on the new coffee table. I chose this one because 30 years ago when I lived in Paris a boyfriend and I made a backgammon set like this from acrylic but it was a flat square and we put skateboard wheels on it so we could wheel it about the room. It didn’t matter that it was low because we didn’t have any furniture and sat on cushions and this reminded me of that. There is also a matching chess set and connect 4 depending on the recipient’s game of choice. You might also want to look for a wooden one. Anyway, you get the idea.



menu norm wine breather decanter
menu norm wine breather decanter

And what could be nicer than a little glass of red while you thrash your opponent at their game of choice? There is, as you can see, also a water decanter so you don’t have to stick to wine. You might prefer Scotch, or a cocktail, in which case buy the right glasses to go with it, add a corkscrew, if necessary, or cut to the chase and throw in a Euro star ticket to the nearest vineyard.



reeded glass vase from H&M
reeded glass vase from H&M

Moving away from games and booze (yes it’s time) for a more restful decorative element to your coffee table what about a pretty vase. This one is £18 and reeded glass is all the rage at the moment so you can shop around until you find the colour, or style of choice at the price you want to pay. I chose this one because you might want to add flowers to the mix. One of those gifts that keeps on giving as it were. The flower subscription market is competitive so you can shop around for the deal that suits you. I use Bloomon and have flowers every fortnight (which is a treat and an indulgence) but you could perhaps buy a vase and agree to a monthly delivery which would be such a lovely present.



candle snuffer from rowen and wren
candle snuffer from rowen and wren

Now this one is shorthand for a whole set of presents that might go down well. Lots of people love a scented candle so it’s about you choosing the right one for them and lots of people swear by WXY Candles, which are soy and paraben free, use a plant-based wax which is palm free and recycled materials wherever possible. I’ve never smelt one though so I don’t know what they’re like although they seem to be popular on instagram! Otherwise pick the candle of your choice. Perhaps you prefer unscented ones in a variety of colours like these from WA Green and you can pick up a funky box of matches to go with them as well as this candle snuffer above for a full rounded present that exists on its own or goes happily with any of the above.



vitra jasper morrison trays
vitra jasper morrison trays

I love a tray. I really do. It’s probably a childhood thing when my Grandmother served afternoon tea on a big round wooden tray. Or brought in drinks with her pink gin, a lemonade for me and a bowl of nuts. Anyway, a tray is such a good present as it can elevate the most humble of dishes. This set of three (also comes in green) is perfect as you can carry drinks in from the kitchen or just have one on the coffee table all the time with a vase or candles or something on there are part of the arrangement. If these don’t float your boat there are so many more about and again it’s something you could look for as a vintage piece if you don’t want to buy new. I’m still looking for one like my Grandmother had which was dark wood and about 50cm in diameter…. just in case anyone’s reading my list…



florence broadhurst rug
florence broadhurst rug

Rugs come in all shapes and sizes and prices but when I was telling you about the Florence Broadhurst lamps the other day I noticed that they now have a couple of her designs in rugs and they’re good prices. The 120cm x 80cm is £349 (wool) while the larger 170cm x 240cm is £649 and they will make to order if you need a specific size. This one comes in oyster as well and there is a geometric black and white pattern which is a bit different from the ubiquitous Beni. This will work a treat under that coffee table above. Mind you, if you prefer vintage then take a look at Josephine on Instagram (@sundayandstory) she doesn’t have a website but she sells lots of Moroccan rugs and pouffes (or their cases) on her account and is also happy to source particular colours and sizes for you if that’s what you require.

All that and we haven’t been near a cushion… no spoke too soon.

preen homewares - cushions and throws
preen homewares – cushions and throws

You know what makes a nice present. A cushion, a mug, a box of really good tea, some biscuits and a book. All of that is massively flexible according to budget (these Preen cushions are £185 although they are reversible, but you can also find great ones in Zara and HM Home). I once bought the Mad Husband a leather bound copy of Brideshead Revisited for his birthday but you can also just get the new Lee Child in hardback. Or a Kindle. Or a great notebook and pen (more on that sort of thing when we get to the home office. Not because it’s restricted to work but because that’s the right room for this gift guide.

Back on Thursday with the Bedroom … more relaxing in store. Are we liking Christmas yet?


Tags : Christmas gift guidechristmas giftssitting room
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.