a dopamine medication guide for your home

One look at stylist, author, and host Zeena Shah’s colorful aesthetic is enough to send you reaching for your brightest, boldest outfits. The award-winning Instagrammer’s world is one of cutting-edge fashion and brilliantly curated maximalist interiors. So it should come as no surprise that Shah has chosen her outfit for Christmas Day and a vibrant plan to bring the ultimate festive cheer into her home.

“After the last two Christmases, this year is going to be bigger and better than ever,” exclaims Shah. “I’ve gone all out with handmade marbled decor in my favorite color palettes that bring joy. As a maximalist, more is more, and everything in our tiny apartment is getting a dusting of festive sparkle, and even more pink than ever.

The former textile designer blends color, craft, vintage and new for a unique aesthetic, getting creative in the one-bedroom apartment she rents with her husband, paper artist Zack Mclaughlin. Limited by space in the art deco building in Hackney, east London, the hub of Shah’s lifestyle and interiors Instagram (@heartzeena and @heartzeenahome respectively) is how to bring joy into your home using furniture and decorations, working with the space you have.

Spending so much time within these four walls during the first lockdown of 2020 has led Shah to fall in love with the marbling process again, something he hasn’t tapped into since his days at Chelsea College of Arts. In 2021 a concept book was formed and in September 2022 celebrated the launch of Marbling – blueprints, design ideas and techniques for a more colorful life.

“I’m addicted to marbling vintage glassware and ceramics, transforming them with swirls and veins of color. Empty bottles and jam jars double as vases and jewelry boxes, adding beautifully to my table settings,” she says. “It’s such an effective technique that it brings color and pattern to fine garments, breathing new life into items destined for the trash.

“Immediacy means there’s no time to overthink it,” she adds. “It’s perfect for those who believe that making things and crafts isn’t for them.” For anyone tempted to give it a try, eBay stocks all the crafting kit you need, from inks and marbled trays to blank burlap balls and prized bits and pieces ready to be upcycled.

Marbling will obviously be king this Christmas. At the dinner table, Shah’s love of technique and table decor collides in a colorful explosion of housewares: marbled place settings, candles, crackers, party hats, baubles, vintage vases and candle holders from eBay. His best advice for finding treasure? “I have so many active eBay alerts, they’re brilliant for bagging something you’ve been looking for.”

The palette is punchy. “As much as I love the classic red and green scheme, I think we can have a little more fun at Christmas. Pink and red work beautifully together and still feel incredibly sophisticated. I also love jewel tones and metallics this time of year.

The Christmas tree is no exception to Shah’s “more is more” rule, opting for a massive faux pink number. Embellished with bows and marbled baubles – and topped with a paper star, handcrafted by Mclaughlin – it’s a nod to the Barbiecore trend that has graced the runways this season. “I bring out the same decorations every year,” says Shah, “but I add to my collection with a new bauble here and there. I’m curating a versatile collection of festive treasures that will be used now and for Christmases to come.”

For those who work with a similarly small space, or simply ditch the tree in an effort to be more sustainable, a garland of marbled paper and hanging ornaments or decorations from the ceiling will do the trick. “I often hang things from our picture rails,” says Shah. “You could add a festive piece of wall art, for example, or choose some inexpensive paper chains.”

Christmas record covers add a festive touch to the space, with the added entertainment factor of actual records. Picked up easily and cheaply on eBay, they also make great party favors, especially paired with Shah’s signature marbled wrapping paper to add an even more personal touch to gift giving.

“I also saved up envelopes, paper and cardstock to make Christmas cards and crackers,” she says. “I do it every year, so it’s a bit of a tradition and represents the best day of conscious doing. I’m also thinking about sewing some marbled fabric patches together to make pillows and scrunchies as gifts.

Shah has long advocated “dressing with dopamine” in fashion, and bringing color into her home spurs the same shot of happiness every time she walks through the door, particularly around the festive season.

“There’s something so beautiful about handcrafting one-of-a-kind decorations for your home using simple materials,” she says. “And there’s nothing cuter than saying, ‘I made them,’ when your friends come.”

Zeena’s best eBay shopping tips

Be patient
Patience and persistence pay off when you’re on the hunt for that special item.

Be savvy with your offers
Make your highest bid at the last possible moment so you don’t give rival bidders a chance to backtrack and outbid you.

Zeena’s five-step guide to marbling your Christmas baubles

You will need:

What to do:

1 Make sure you open a window as marbling inks have a pungent smell and take gloves to avoid marbling your hands.

2 Slowly pour or drop the inks onto the water to create a pattern. Use a lollipop stick for twirling if you like. Start with two or three colors and work quickly as the ink can dry quickly.

3 Take a small ball and gently dip it into the water up to its neck.

4 Wait a second or two, then lift carefully. As you do this, the ink will coat the ball, creating the marbled effect. You may need a few tries to nail the technique: Turn the ball slightly as you lift it to coat the bottom. Hold for a few seconds while the ink sets, then let dry on wax paper. Add a clip and ribbon for hanging.

5 Voila! You will marble everything you see.

Get the Zeena look

Master the skill of marbling or imitate style with high color hits from eBay. And if these are gone, simply look for similar items

The tree
A 6ft Barbiecore beauty that will bring you joy this coming Christmas, this faux tree is just £37.96 from gproductsfu.

The decorations
Pastel paper pom-poms to embellish your Christmas (and fall back on until next year). £8.99 for 10 from Brightsun Choice.

The table
Not feeling so smart? Get a piece of premade marbling with the aptly named Inferno Disc Candle, £13.50 from Brown and Ginger.

Shop Home on eBay to find all the inspiration you need to turn your Christmas into a celebration of color and happiness

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