Designer Decorating Tips for the Holidays

By Nancy Powell, Powell Brower Interiors

Do you believe the holidays are right around the corner?  They’re coming up fast, but there’s still time to give tired decorations a little freshening. As a designer, I get asked frequently how to do just that, so here are some of my best suggestions for a new look this season.

Buy beautiful new cloth ribbon, and lots of it.

The biggest impact you can make in your seasonal décor is using cloth ribbon.  It is not a huge investment and it can update your look immensely.

Buy the wire edged ribbon so it holds its shape, and if it has a hint of metallic, it is much more impactful.  Some fabulous sources are Merrifield Garden Center and Michael’s in Gainesville, Oh Sew Persnickety in Haymarket, and Joann’s Fabrics in Warrenton.  To establish a flow throughout your home, maintain the same color scheme, which means lots and lots of ribbon. Remember one large bow alone takes three-yards.

Style with greenery.

Another impactful way to style your home for the holidays is the addition of fresh flowers, branches and greenery.  Live greens improve the air quality in your home, while emitting a lovely winter potpourri. Cuttings from your yard or those you find on a walk in the woods, bring the outdoors in and add an organic, non-commercial touch to your decorations.

Mantels, consoles, windowsills and tabletops can all be enhanced with garlands and greenery.  To make faux garlands look less skimpy, intertwine several differing garlands together and add sprigs of fresh greenery. The result is a more voluminous and realistic look.

Change your tree color scheme.

Research trending color schemes on Pinterest and make a plan before you start. Perhaps you can’t afford all new ornaments and decorations, but you can invest $5 in a can of spray paint and paint old, tired ornaments a new color. Add lots of new ribbon, some branches from the yard, and use a faux fur throw as a tree skirt, and voila! A fabulous new look for your tree.  Remember, there’s no rule that says you must use red and green.

Engage the senses.

The journey through the holidays is all about the experience and creating memories.  As you and your guests enjoy your home this holiday make sure it’s a sensory experience.

Smell – Use fresh greens, scented candles, and simmer spices on low on the stove.

Taste – Have baked goods on hand or in the freezer, cheese plates ready to serve in the fridge, a signature cocktail you can whip up quickly, and some holiday candy and cookies on hand to offer guests.

Sight – Don’t forget to go beyond your beautifully decorated home and create a welcoming entry and curb appeal.

Touch – Utilize cashmere and velvet fabrics, faux fur throws and pets dressed in Christmas finery (think fun ribbons and cute collars), to enhance the holiday feel of your home.

Some final notes:

Curate your collections of decorations and alternate them from year to year. As a designer, I can tell you that it’s all about editing and highlighting what’s important. You don’t have to display everything you’ve ever collected every year. It is often visually and emotionally too much and adds to the stress of the season. Keep it simple and spotlight, as if in an art gallery, a few special pieces so they can really be honored and appreciated.  

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