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Un-deck the halls

Inteior Design by Wendy Warner.
Inteior Design by Wendy Warner. dustin peck photography, inc

When decorating for the holidays this year, why not give Santa a rest? It’s time to get creative with this season’s holiday décor. Interior decorators from UCity and beyond share some tips to make your holiday home merry and bright with an unconventional twist.

Wendy Warner of MUSE Designer Fabrics in Concord worked her magic to give her client’s home an unorthodox spin this season. Her first unique suggestion is for the Christmas tree. She recommends buying a plastic urn or planter to put the tree in, as she’s done here.

That way, she says, you can get a smaller tree, as the height comes from the urn. She spray-painted the planter silver and filled it with soil to give it weight. Then, she cut a circle of plywood to fit the planter, also spray-painted silver, and attached the tree to the plywood with washers and screws. She then took small empty boxes, wrapped them like gifts and used wire to attach them so that they look like they’re spilling out of the tree itself.

Perhaps the most unusual element, she says, is her color scheme. The bedroom was already blue and white, so she used that color palette for inspiration. She incorporated a rich, deep teal to contrast with the indigo blue and white. Peacocks, which according to Warner are a hot design trend right now, are the focal point of the tree’s decorations, along with hydrangeas. Putting these bright, spring-like items on a snowy tree gives it a lot of visual pop, says Warner.

Warner’s client had custom drapery for the bedroom, made with a specific embroidered pattern, so Warner found scraps from that fabric. She cut out the pattern and applied an iron-on stiffener to the back. She then tacked the material together at the bottom to create a fan shape and added these clusters to the tree as ornaments.

Anybody can create a similar look, she says, for very little money. She recommends Hobby Lobby and Garden Ridge for supplies. She also recommends checking around your home for pieces of unused fabric you can repurpose or empty boxes you can wrap to look like presents.

In her own home, Warner puts her Christmas tree on a table, for example. She buys a skirted table frame at Michael’s or A.C. Moore then places the tree in it, using fabric to create a tree skirt that drapes over the table.

“It adds some cool drama that nobody’s expecting,” she says. It also keeps the tree off the floor, a big bonus if you have small children or pets. Warner stacks the gifts on the floor around the table and places family photos in fun frames around the tree. When family comes over to celebrate, they see themselves, and they really like that, she says.

Lavinia Patrascu of design website Freshome advocates a focus on natural materials as a way to begin a unique holiday decorating theme. Sea grass, raffia, straw and wood lend a warm and rustic touch, she says. Natural browns, beiges and dark chocolate hues are good for fireplace mantels, holiday wreaths and Christmas tree ornaments. Use greenery to bring in the color, Patrascu says.

One of the best ways to add shimmer and glamour to your holiday home is with metallic colors, according to Patrascu. Use metallic spray paint on pinecones, branches and vases to make centerpieces for your dining table or front foyer table. If you still like a few bursts of red and green, opt for thin red ribbon wrapped around plants or vases.

Instead of poinsettias, Joyce Capoccitti of the American Society for Interior Designers (ASID) in Washington, D.C., used lemon-yellow lilies last year to add a bright counterpoint to her black, white and silver dining room theme. More lilies and ivory roses were tucked into pine boughs on the mantelpiece. Capoccitti decorated her tree in copper, bronze and eggplant, using big, glitzy balls and purple, sequin starfish ornaments.

Stacey Romano, also of the ASID, plans to mix glitzy metallic and earth tones this year. She’s going to use copper as her main color with acid green accents. Instead of reindeer, Santa and snowmen, Romano is going for a more natural motif by using butterflies, insects and birds as decorations on her various buffets and side tables.

Vae Sun of the Society of American Florists (SAF) in Alexandria, Va., says that using materials that convey a message about who you are is a good starting point for holiday décor. For a young family, for instance, she recommends creating a wreath out of all the misfit toy pieces and ‘doodads’ found around the house.

Laura Casey of Laura Casey Interiors in Charlotte agrees that a nice way to begin decorating unconventionally for the holidays is to try a different color palette. She recommends mixing silver and gold with creams and whites, for example. If you want to incorporate green, use a deep, dark hunter green (as opposed to the more traditional kelly green). Instead of Santa or snowman figurines, go for a more elegant look by filling clear glass hurricanes with cranberries or spray-painting the glass to look like mercury glass, giving it a silvered effect.

Both Casey and Warner share the same philosophy when it comes to avoiding holiday-decorating stress: plan ahead.

Casey says she really wants to enjoy the holidays, so she tries to do as much as possible in November and the first week of December so she doesn’t feel a huge crunch. It does take organization, she advises. Casey keeps a binder year-round with different décor ideas so she can reference it at any time and make notes. Warner says that if you start early and do a little bit at a time, it takes a lot of the work out of decorating. That way, she says, you can be creative and play around more with your decorations and not overspend.

Here’s to keeping your creative spirit at the holidays, and all year long.

Look for unconventional holiday items at these UCity stores:

Hobby Lobby8101-c University City Blvd.Charlotte, NC

Two 4-inch natural peacock feather picks with loop, $2.29 Hurricane with Fluted Base – Clear, $39.99

Lowe's Home Improvement1100 Chancellor Park DriveCharlotte, NC

10"H x 12"W x 12"D Black Resin Urn, $6.96

Home Depot8135 University City Blvd.Charlotte, NC

Home Accents Holiday 5-foot Pre-Lit Wood Trail Pine Tree, $34.97

More information:

MUSE Designer

Laura Casey

Freshome Interior Design &