The holidays are a magical time of both theatre and introspection. There is the hustle and bustle of organization and anticipation, the flamboyant celebrations and the cosy retreat from the world to be with those you love . By decorating your home you can conjure up a mood of celebration and joy, familiarity and timelessness. In my design I love to bring in elements of nature and one-of-a-kind vintage items, both of which marry perfectly with the holiday theme. With this in mind, I’d like to share my five golden rules of decorating for the holidays!
Creating a sense of peace and calm before the celebrations is a good place to start. A regular shifting of the home environment always creates a nice energy and movement, especially as we get ready to welcome in a new year. This is the perfect time to get rid of anything that’s not working for you anymore so that festive adornments add to the ambiance rather than create clutter.
Sometimes less is more. To avoid a cluttered, over-busy look, take a bookcase or a shelf, clear it of its everyday items and then turn it into a display of all your most treasured festive items — candles, vases, lights, ornaments, bowls filled with fruit or sweets, garlands and photographs —or perhaps a stunning new piece. Choose those new items you will treasure year round, not just in the holiday. Perhaps they can be placed elsewhere in the house, or put to a different use, throughout the year.
The holidays are a time of both nostalgia and new beginnings. Choose dark, moody, deep colors for introspection and reflection, and bright, dazzling whites, neutrals, and silvers to look to the future. I love plenty of natural light and calming colors that will transform your home into a peaceful haven in which to escape. Opt for fun, vibrant colors in kids or family rooms, and natural elegant and sophisticated colors for main living areas.
Use nature to inspire you. The blue silver of snow or the warm ambers and russets of a roaring fire, pastel colors evoking winter sunrises, and the richness of red berries. It’s ultimately all about the sparkle for me. I particularly love a collection of antiqued mercury glass votives in varying shapes and sizes.
At this time of year, we get to appreciate the full circle of the seasons, and feel a warm familiarity about the holidays coming round again. I am a real nature lover and I enjoy blurring the boundary between the outdoors and inside. There is no better time of year to play with the contrast between the cold, wintery outdoors and the warmth and comfort of home. Introducing any kind of winter greenery is a perfect way to bring in an earthy, seasonal vibe. Introduce faux berries, lifelike flowers, feathery birds, garlands, spruce, birch twigs, and silver pine cones.
I love to make a wreath with a beautiful, natural aroma each year — eucalyptus is my favourite! It’s a good excuse for a wander and a forage. If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, you can always buy a plain pine wreath from your local garden centre and pick up loose eucalyptus and other festive finds from a local florist. Keep it natural and a little wild, but maintain an element of restraint by popping items into a simple, clear vase.
The holidays are a time of storytelling. Whether it’s ornaments from the past, vintage collectors’ items or cute fairytale characters, tradition has a strong impact at this time of year. You can pick up items such as vintage sleighs, ice skates, or sleigh bells, to place around your home.
Your own stories are as important as those found in books. I like to collect together some of my favorite ornaments from my travels and create a display. It’s a great way to recall all the journeys I’ve been on and it’s fun to reflect on shared travel memories. Once you get a sense of the feel of your decor, you can direct your attention to the flow. As you enter your home, what do you see first? From the entryway to the living space, from the tree to the dinner table, keep the story going and the theme consistent, but adapt it to each room’s color scheme and function.
The holidays are a time for opening up your home to new friends as well as hunkering down with loved ones. Whether they evoke the silver shimmer of snowflakes or the golden warmth of champagne, welcoming lights are the linchpin of holiday decor. Externally, simple and elegant uplighting to highlight particular trees and the main entry can be stunning. Once enticed inside, ensure your guests are surrounded by soft and consistent lighting throughout the house.
Add a sense of warmth and comfort with blankets and cushions piled onto fireside armchairs or in baskets or blanket boxes, allowing your guests to snuggle up when they are weary from the celebrations.
The holidays can be a stressful time but decorating your home should be a creative joy! If you stick to the golden rules of keeping it simple, drawing on the beauty within nature and the magic of storytelling and making your loved ones as welcome and comfortable as possible, you will create a beautiful haven in which to enjoy this special time of the year!