If there’s a sameness in holiday decorating, it stems from too much harmony. The antidote is to embrace contrast and add pieces that inject visual interest. We asked designers about the best way to take seasonal trends in an unexpected direction.
Twists on tradition
Birch candles, a red lantern and a wreath can complement the rustic aesthetic of a traditional table, said Beth Kreienkamp, director of visual display for Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Phillips Furniture. She also uses a cut of burlap for a table runner, with a scarf for an overlay.
“Our inspiration was nature and the traditional holiday look and feel for winter,” said Kreienkamp.
Decorating with fruits, berries and twigs is also popular for the holiday season. For a simple, elegant centerpiece, use a narrow vase and a large bunch of baby’s breath, said Linda Williams, designer with Dau Furniture.
“It looks like a big snowflake,” she said.
Add antique toys such as old wooden blocks or trains as a retro element of a traditional look.
The spirit of holidays past
The holiday candies from childhood can help you recapture the excitement of seasons past. Hang old-fashioned candy boxes from the tree. The brighter, the better.
Color-saturated displays are a rebellion to the pared-down, monochromatic look popular in contemporary design. The element of vintage candy adds whimsy to help pull off a bold color scheme.
“We wanted to hip up Hanukkah,” said Ellen Alvey, accessory buyer for Ashley. “It’s very tradition-oriented, and we wanted to modernize it.”
She decided to pull in European modern design with organic, natural elements. “I liked the contrast between sharp, clean edges of modern and the organic lines,” she said. She adorns chairs in one display with a blue ribbon tied to a pine cone on the end.
“The deep blue is very straight and structured,” she said. She mixes gold and silver pieces of varying finishes in with the ornaments, which hang from a repurposed cardboard tube.
Williams sees a trend of creating a luxury look by combining silver, gold and frosted tones.
“One idea would be to get a bunch of glass vases and group them together in an entry and fill with ornaments in white and gold or gold and silver.” Another option would be to mix black and gold for a sophisticated look.
“Whatever colors are in the home, you can just sparkle it up,” she said, “instead of always trying to mix in red or green, which may not work with everyone’s decor.”
Neutrals plus sparkle
Holiday glitter, shimmer and shine are expected, but consider pairing those elements with classic neutrals for visual contrast.
“We know that sparkle is what captures everyone’s eye during the holidays,” Kreienkamp said.
One of her holiday displays started with neutral decor and basic wooden tables. The shine of crystal candelabras is highlighted against a worn mantel and a weathered finish on a sunburst mirror. She used a faux fur throw as a tree skirt to soften the rustic scene. Adding natural elements, such as pinecones or branches, will warm up any space.