Design 101: Home for the Holidays…

“What are some fresh ideas for holiday decorating? How can I add privacy without blocking light?” Interior designers deal with these and many other questions every day. This month’s column focuses on preparing for the holidays.

I have limited space, what is an easy way to bring in the holidays that won’t create clutter?
Decorating with a scent takes up little to no room and is one of the strongest triggers to memory. An oil diffuser can be used to bring the pine, sugar cookie, orange or any other scent that you associate with the holidays into your home.
Pro Tip: If you don’t like the thought of a tea light or other flame, a reed diffuser works quite well and can’t burn anything.

What if I like the idea of a holiday scent, but find the constant smell overpowering?
You can contain the smell under a glass “bell” called a Cloche. Scented candles, flowers, fruit, baked goods, cheese…you can put pretty much anything you want under and when you remove it, you can raise the cloche to your nose for a powerful, yet contained waft of your desired fragrance. When you place it back down it will capture the vast majority of the odiferous particles leaving the rest of the room safe for more sensitive noses.
Pro Tip: Impress your friends with the proper pronunciation. Cloche rhymes with gauche.

What small items can I use to subtly decorate for the holidays?
One small decorative item you can add to your decor is cloven fruit. It’s easy enough to make yourself. Using a toothpick or skewer, pierce a small hole in the rind of an orange or lemon or other fruit with a thick rind, and insert the long end of the clove bud snugly inside leaving the round portion exposed. A bowl full will take up no more space than any other centerpiece and add a fragrant element to boot.
Pro Tip: Cloven fruit can me made in any number of patterns, chevrons, stripes, swirls. If you want to add another dimension of design work in Star Anise as well.

What other senses can I engage to set the mood?
Sound can be lovely although I prefer to avoid looping songs. Instead, I typically suggest bringing in a Biophillic element that brings the outdoors in. Many people know about playing a video of a crackling fire if they don’t have a fireplace, but how many people think of the sound of a snow storm? Limit the volume and let it transform your room.
Pro Tip: Some of the absolute highest quality recordings of natural settings and phenomenon is by a company called Naturespace. Their app is available on both Android and Iphones and the tracks are very reasonably priced.

Are there any other holiday items that might be a nice addition to my decorating?
My wife recalls one that she remembers fondly from her childhood. It’s a candle that has spinning angels and bells. With a bit of research I learned they are called Angel Chimes. The heat from the candle rises causing the angels to spin and the chimes to ring. (Thanks for the suggestion, Laura!)
Pro Tip: Another item is known as a Christmas Pyramid, and you can get them as small or large as you want.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 34 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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