Don’t be afraid to be creative with your decorations. Individual collections, hobbies and interests can become the impetus for distinctive and personal holiday décor.
A huge part of the holiday season is the creation of surroundings that speak to our traditions... a Christmas tree, a menorah, poinsettias and dreidels all become important to our holiday experience.
But each piece can take on individual style, depending on how we were raised and how we have approached our current décor. Some rely on their interior style to determine a holiday theme. A modern interior may display a metallic tree covered in shiny glass balls and silver ornaments. A traditional interior may have a Fraser fir, with red and gold balls and twinkling lights.
Many years ago, a friend wanted to create an authentic 19th century Christmas inside her Queen Ann Victorian home. Finding vintage doilies at an antique market, and using miniature dried roses, she created tiny nosegays that were then hung on the tree using mauve and pink ribbons. Vintage hat boxes set beneath the tree housed all the gifts. She even went as far as to replicate the food of that period with a delicious steamed pudding as the table’s centerpiece.
Holiday house tours often give homeowners the opportunity to go all out in their holiday décor. When my own home was on the tour several years ago, I did just that, recreating an authentic colonial Christmas. Relying on a cherished book I had purchased in Williamsburg years ago, it provided step-by-step instructions on how to create one of Colonial Williamsburg’s holiday signatures, a sugared fruit tree. I had to purchase a nail-studded wooden tree form, and using a combination of oranges, apples, pears and nuts, I brushed them with an egg white and water solution so that the sprinkled sugar would adhere. At the ready were small boxwood cuttings that were placed in between the pieces of fruit, forming the tree. Using magnolia leaves at the base, the fruit tree served as the focal point of the table.
So many people are drawn to more naturalistic holiday décor. The color combination of red, green and brown, using natural greens, berries, and holly, has always been a favorite of mine. Several years ago I came across a 15-foot garland made entirely of pine cone clusters, which was then wrapped around the tree. With the addition of red berries and natural wood ornaments, the tree looked as if it were resting in the forest. The simple addition of balsam sprigs added to the tops of wall art or mirrors, or tied on to the bottoms of chandeliers and sconces, not only adds festivity to a space, but gives that wonderful winter time aroma. I even love attaching holly sprigs to the individual panes of multi-light windows, another Williamsburg practice that is so colonial in design.
Another holiday house tour gave me the chance to work within a modern living room that had a pink and green color scheme. The owner was the past president of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society.
So there was no question as to the theme of the holiday décor. Using a multitude of “flower tubes” we used individual flowers in pinks, yellows and blues to decorate the tree. We then surrounded the tubed stems with greenery attached with white ribbons. It was a truly unique holiday approach, and the homeowner was so honored by our personal and distinctive design it became her yearly holiday tradition.
Don’t be afraid to be creative with your decorations. Individual collections, hobbies and interests can become the impetus for distinctive and personal holiday décor. But whatever you choose, try to make your surroundings say something individual about your tastes, and especially about things you enjoy. You will be amazed at how the holiday season can take on a personal note, and how your family and friends will appreciate the individual effort you have employed.
Enjoy the season!
Patricia Cove is principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill, and can be reached at patriciacove.com.