Your Holiday Home

Submitted by Annette Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

MPj04403120000[1]2009 has been a tough year for just about everyone, and with the holidays quickly approaching, I decided to pen an article that could bring a bit of holiday inspiration and good-cheer into your home. It’s all about transforming your home to embrace the Christmas season—without emptying your wallet.  Over the next few paragraphs, my wish for you is that you discover an inspiring decorating idea or two that will have you saying, …why didn’t I think of that?

The traditional colors of the season start with red and green.  But burgundy, pink, gold, silver, blue, and white are also key players in the holiday palette.  And you can introduce any one of those colors to suit your mood and your decor. Fragrant wreaths, softly glowing candles, and poinsettias continue to be favorite icons for holiday celebrations, but lets go beyond the “expected”—to explore some delightful ways to dress your home for company:

White slipcovers for your furniture aren’t just for summertime anymore.  If you’ve already invested in cottony white slipcovers, now they can do double duty.  Add some  overstuffed pillows in red or green prints to those white covers, and you’ve instantly created a striking holiday décor.  Potterybarn.com offers oversized pillows in cozy red and white buffalo checks.  Add one or two smaller Christmas-themed pillows, (checks will coordinate with just about anything you choose), and your room now has a complete Kris Kringle makeover.  Let’s not forget about the floor.  Did you know that holiday-themed polyester and olefin area rugs are extremely affordable and can underscore your new design for the Season? Your area retailers or Big Box stores can show you what’s new in holiday themes and colors. 

Let’s move to the dining room to work a little magic.  You don’t need to go out and purchase all new linens to give a fresh look to your table.  A new fabric runner in Christmas colors can become the focal point for any solid white or lace tablecloth.  If you are handy on a sewing machine, go visit your nearest fabric store and pick out a pattern that reminds you of Christmases past and childhood dreams.  If you don’t know a bobbin from your boots, your local drycleaner usually has a seamstress on staff who can do the stitchery for you (for about $10)! 

Next, let’s put that beautiful light fixture or chandelier above your table to good use.  This is an excellent “prop” for lighting up the season (pardon the pun).  Do you have small carriage lampshades on your light fixture? (Or, can you add them?) Check out your local lighting store for seasonal lampshades that can transform your chandelier and make it another holiday focal point.  Burgundy brocades, pine cone prints, and of course reds and greens will get your shades into the holiday mode. 

christmas_6Before we leave the dining room, here’s one of my favorite suggestions.  Those graceful arms on your chandelier are perfect for hanging crystal ornaments on fine-gauge fishing line.  The ornaments appear to be floating, and the light from the chandelier illuminates the crystal and adds sparkle to the room.  If you are having dinner guests, consider that at the end of the evening, you might let them choose one of these ornaments to snip and take home with them as a holiday gift.  I usually have small white boxes, with only the tops pre-wrapped, waiting for just that purpose. After they choose their ornament, wrap it in snowy white tissue paper and place in the colorful gift box for them to take home.  The pre-wrapped boxes make a festive decoration set to one side of each step on your staircase.  And those crystal ornaments will have served double duty:  adding touches of pure sparkle to your chandelier during dinner, AND serving as a unique, personal gift for each of your guests.   

We haven’t talked about table centerpieces as yet.  If you plan to order a custom floral, expect to spend $50 to $100 depending on the size.  But, if you already have a beautiful leaded glass vase or container, bring it to the floral section of your local grocery store and have their florist design a professional arrangement for you.  It will be a fraction of the cost and you will have a one-of-a-kind centerpiece.  And feel free to get creative with your containers.  I’ve used china teapots (in Christmas colors), sterling silver Revere bowls, oversized Christmas mugs aligned in a row: even staggered-height vases (three is the magic number).  I choose the flowers I want, add some glittery ribbons, and create an amazing tabletop that your guests will truly remember.  Baby’s breath bouquets make a stunning filler between flowers for any container–very economical, and gives a wispy, Wintery touch to the arrangement.  Have fun and show your style! 

Let’s address the chairs around your kitchen or dining room table.  It adds an elegant touch to invest in holiday chair-back covers, tied with bright satin ribbon. This may not be the most economical suggestion in this article, but it does have a huge impact. You will be stunned as to how effective this is in your holiday home make-over. And it’s something you can use over and over for other occasions.  Sheer white covers with red satin bows practically beg to be part of Valentine’s Day.  christmas_7

Are you dreading the holidays this year because you might not have enough china to set a uniform table for all your guests?  It’s time for you to discover Overstock.com.  I love my china pattern, but over the years there have been more than a few casualties while entertaining.  I am pleased to say that I was able to add six more dinner plates and three more coffee cups in a pattern that is over twenty years old.  I can now set matching place settings for up to 16 people!  Wine glasses, silverware, china pieces and much more are all available for you to explore at Overstock.com

Can’t forget that your front door speaks volumes as to what kind of holiday welcome you want to extend.  Again, exterior holiday walk-off mats in cheery Christmas themes can set the stage for that warm first welcome.  Look for fresh green wreaths at the Big Box stores or craft stores that you can decorate yourself.  Don’t let the ‘do-it-yourself’ quotient intimidate you.  A roll of wired ribbon, some small glass ornaments or silk flowers, mixed with your creative touch, are exactly what your front door needs to announce the season.  

Do you have a credenza, console table, or lamp table in your foyer?  Dress it for the big party with glass votive candles (colored or just clear glass), interspersed between pre-chilled champagne flutes.  Colorful curling ribbon tied to each stemmed glass completes the festive look.  As you greet each guest at the door, present him or her with a glass of bubbly (sparkling cider works just as well as champagne).  This enticing visual absolutely glows with holiday welcome and good tidings. 

The Christmas tree still reigns supreme as the center point of your decorations.  I have yet to find any tree skirt that fits the mammoth sized trees we bring home.  Fabric by-the-yard to the rescue!  Off-the-bolt fabric can be wrapped around a tree stand to fit any sized tree, and costs much less than premade skirts.  Use pinking shears, if you have them, to trim raw edges of the fabric to avoid raveling. Don’t worry if you don’t have shears.  Just arrange the fabric so any raw edges are neatly tucked under.  By the way, if you’re trimming those low-hanging branches to get the tree into its stand, don’t discard them–use them on your mantel for fragrant decoration.   

Your home is going to get lots of traffic throughout the holidays.  Walk-off mats at all of your doorways will spare your floors tracked-in snow, sleet, mud, or whatever else Mother Nature is stirring up outside.  But regardless of your precautions, there is bound to be some wear and tear.  So, come visit me here at Designer’s Corner after the first of the year.  We’ll be talking about “After the Party….So What Now?” and I will address maintenance techniques to get your floors (carpet, stone, tile, hardwood, laminate) back to looking good. 

For now, all you need to do is to dress your home in some Christmas finery; enjoy your family and friends, and with an open heart, let the joy of the Season surround you.