Decorating a home for Christmas is a rich holiday tradition and speaks volumes for the homeowner entertaining friends and family. While traditional Christmas trees, wreaths and boughs of holly will never go out of style, local designers say homeowners are increasingly looking for inspiration and guidance on how to deck their homes in new, creative ways.
Set the Scene
By all means, deck your halls with boughs of holly, says Lana Lounsbury, principal designer of a company that bears her name. But do so with a mind of carrying the theme throughout the house.
“Keep the scene, style or colour consistent,” said Lounsbury, a registered interior designer. “You can carry the theme with a bit of variety with the tree, wreath and materials.”
When done properly, a theme can pull together different elements in a room, making it feel more personal.
And keep clutter to a minimum.
Often, all it takes to tie elements is colour. People can play on colour, swapping classic red for white or gold. When using white as the base, introduce almost any other colour as a punch.
Think beyond the mantle and tree. Other areas of the house can sparkle with seasonal embellishments.
Adorn hallway coat hooks with winter-themed items or hang baubles from bookshelves and doorways.
Consider scale and proportion
One of the elements of interior design is the proportion of elements in relation to other items in the room.
Throw out that concept when decorating for the holidays, says Lounsbury.
“Oversize everything. Go way bigger each and every time.”
She says going over the top when it comes to decorations forces people to take notice. “People just can’t help themselves to look.”
She uses the same advice when it comes to the amount of material.
“Don’t just lay a wreath on top of the fireplace mantle. Get some more material so that the wreaths cascade down both sides as well.”
Look of simplicity
Not everybody subscribes to an intense assault to the senses.
While Cas Fuller used to put up a traditional Christmas tree with all the trimmings when she lived in Prince George, everything changed when she bought a mid-century house in Victoria designed by famed architect John Di Castri.
“I found myself drawn to creating a setting more in keeping with the house,” said Fuller, who retired to Victoria nine years ago.
Instead of a cut tree, she forages for branches that have fallen from trees. She anchors them in pots filled with river rock and uses her own decorations. She adds colourful birds with long tails “because they look dramatic.”
“Cutting a tree down every year seems like such a waste,” Fuller says. “Now I never have to water and I can switch it up anytime I want.”
While she likes to leave the branches natural, Fuller has seen people spray paint the branches silver or gold to match the style or theme of a house.
Don’t forget the other senses
Along with strong visual cues, other essential elements in creating a style include the introduction of textures and scents to the mix.
“Smells are very much a part of the holidays,” says Lounsbury. “Be it baking gingerbread or the smell of a tree, the scent is part of the experience.”
While it may be impractical to bake a batch of cookies daily, the scent of warm gingerbread in the air would be one of the most welcoming aromas for guests as they enter a house.
Lounsbury prefers subtle natural scents over the artificial sprays available.
Good choices for welcoming guests include thyme or orange slices. People can also use essential oils placed on ceramic holders and activated by the heat of a bulb or candle. Oils associated with the holidays include juniper and peppermint. People can also create their own by diluting the oils and mixing it in a spray bottle.
Beeswax candles can add a warm, flickering glow and a soothing scent. Along with the smell of the wood burning on an open fire, both can signal the end of the night, a time to reflect on Christmases past or the one yet to come.