We chat to the winner of Scotland’s Christmas Home of the Year 2023

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A celebration of family, craft and colour, Bay Tree House in Edinburgh is the worthy winner of this year’s title, with the judges praising its joyful feel

words Olivia Simpson

The contestants in this year’s festive competition showed there’s a Christmas style to suit every home, whether that be neon-accented glamour in an East Renfrewshire townhouse, a Glasgow cottage with Nordic-inspired foraged décor or a refined and traditional feel in an 1880s apartment in Greenock.

But in the end, it was Bay Tree House in Edinburgh that won out, home to Katie and Jamie Morris, their daughter Beth and their cat Frida.

“I’d say our festive style is crafty, colourful and magical,” shares Katie. The homespun feel and focus on family proved irresistible to the judges, who awarded the home a perfect score.

a couple stands in front of a terraced house
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland
a living room decorated with a Christmas tree and Christmas decorations
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland

“Bay Tree house is a joyful example of a home decorated not only with masses of individuality but sustainably too, with lots of brilliant homemade ideas to steal,” enthused Anna Campbell Jones, interior designer and SCHOTY judge.

“It’s a riot of rainbow colours that works perfectly with the design of the home whilst utterly transforming it for the festive season. I can’t think of a more magical home for a child to wake up in on Christmas Day.”

“Like the best presents, this home gives nothing away from the outside,” adds fellow judge and interior designer Banjo Beale.

“Christmas needn’t cost the earth and this place proves it using leftover fabric and paper as decorations – a pure joy,” he continues.

a dad, mum and daughter sit on a sofa next to a Christmas tree
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland
Two stockings hang on a mantlepiece, embroidered with the letters K and J
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland.

“Meeting the judges was lovely,” reflects Katie. “I’m a big fan of the show. Christmas craft and home interiors is the perfect combination for me, so of course I am!”

“I actually applied quite late,” she continues. “I saw the call out for applicants on Instagram and sent in some pictures from previous years. After seeing our photos, the team wanted to come round for a look, which gave us less than 24 hours to decorate two rooms!”

“As we make a lot of our own decorations, this led to me out foraging for sticks at 9pm – probably not the safest idea!”

From there, it was a quick turnaround to get the whole home decorated in time for filming.

a festive tablescape, with a model train, crackers and other decorations
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland
a cat lies on a bed with a Christmas tree in the background
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland

“It’s important to work with the rooms you have, not against them,” advises Katie. “Year-round, our house is colourful with crafty touches, so we embrace this and amp it up at Christmas time.”

While her thrifty and sustainable use of fabric offcuts and found foliage impressed the judges, Katie is keen to stress that her craft projects are achievable for all.

“I can’t sew all that well and don’t have a sewing machine, so it’s all about the hot glue gun for me!” she laughs. “There’s lots of helpful YouTube tutorials for different Christmas crafts, and I find lots of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest too”

Daughter Beth gets stuck in with the crafting too, making paper chains. “It’s lovely to work on a project all together,” says Katie. “It’s a wonderful family time and we have so much fun getting the house ready together.”

As far as possible, wreaths and foliage arrangements are made using foraged pieces from the family’s front and back garden, as well as snippings from the gardens of friends and neighbours.

“We have a eucalyptus tree in our back garden, and on Christmas morning, I’ll nip out to trim some fresh sprigs for our table,” Katie tells us.

“I’ve also bought a holly tree, which is ready to be planted in the new year, so that this time next year, we can use holly from our own garden to decorate.”

Some treasured pieces make an appearance every year. “I have some cushions my nan made me when I was young that now sit in Beth’s room, and my mum made a Christmas sack for Beth when she was a baby, and I made her a stocking then too.”

a closeup of the winner's trophy for Scotland's Christmas Home of the Year
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland
A man and a woman embrace while holding a trophy and facing the camera
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland
The judges of Scotland's Christmas Home of the Year stand in the winning home with the winning couple. A woman holds a trophy.
Photo Kirsty Anderson. Copyright IWC Media. Courtesy of BBC Scotland

For Katie and Jamie, seeing Christmas through the eyes of their daughter and making it as special as possible for her is what it’s all about. For example, Beth loves the film “Elf”, so last year, they hosted a pre-Christmas breakfast like the one eaten by Will Ferrell’s impossibly sweet-toothed character. “We had spaghetti topped with skittles, smarties, maltesers and more!” recalls Katie.

For the faint of heart, there were some more typical breakfast offerings, but according to Katie, spaghetti with maple syrup and popcorn is a surprisingly tasty salty-sweet treat. “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!” she laughs.

“Traditions like this evolve alongside your family,” she says. “I don’t like forced fun, so it’s important to adapt how you celebrate to suit your family.”

“That’s what SCHOTY is so good at showing,” Katie concludes. “Every home is so different and personal to each family.”

“It’s all about that special magic for each home.”

Learn more about the other homes in this year’s competition

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