Fresh & Festive Holiday Décor Ideas

Fresh & Festive Holiday Décor Ideas

Local designers share how subtle changes around your home can create a big effect for guests and family

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maria-siegalPick a Palette

“My holiday decorating shortcuts are based on a simple, pre-set color palette and natural, seasonal elements. I usually go with various shades of silver, gold and white (keep your colors to two or three selections). Because the color palette is simple, you can play with it and add various objects that fall into the palette, and yet still have a unified look. I might take ornaments in shades of golds and silvers and sprinkle them along my table runner and then flank either end of the table with a few candles – of all sizes – in shades of white and silver. Then, I always add a natural element: magnolia leaves, pinecones, herbs. A little touch like this goes a long way in creating a festive table.

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Photo by Merritt Chesson Photography

Decorating with a few colors means you can carry the palette throughout your house (at the entry, on the replace mantel, on your front porch, etc.) and everything feels collected and unified. Use creative color combinations like fuchsia and green or gold and blue, to keep it interesting and unpredictable. This approach is also an economical way to decorate because you can switch things around and collect over the years without feeling as if you need to start over every time. I add something every year, but don’t need much since it’s easy to integrate into the collection I’ve been evolving over the years.

With this approach, everything works together because the colors are the unifying factor. And adding natural elements such as flowers, wreathes, garland and berries warms things up and makes your home feel cozier. I usually just clip branches from the magnolia tree in our front yard! How’s that for easy and economical?” – Maria SiegelFounder and Owner of Goldenrod Place Interiors

Photo by Merritt Chesson Photography
Photo by Merritt Chesson Photography
Limit Your Focus

“Pick an anchor for each room. Don’t get lost in the clutter of small holiday knick-knacks set out on every surface. Instead, limit your focus to a single ‘statement location’ and build on that. A big wreath over a mirror above the replace, standout centerpiece for the dining table, or garland over a bay window can provide a focal point for impact. Then you’re able to add layers of fresh flowers and candles, or tuck some metallic pillows or heirloom decorations into the mix – without turning your family room into Santa’s Workshop!

Think beyond red and green. For fun, tell yourself that the combo of red and green is off the table this year. What would you choose, instead, that still says ‘holiday’? Plum and silver? Teal and black? Introduce an unconventional color palette into your holiday accessories. You can still utilize traditional holiday pieces, but customize them to merge with your personal style and all-season décor. Hang a bold red-orange ribbon on the door, hunt for black candles (ooh, la la!) to sit on the coffee table or trim the tree with newsprint origami ornaments. Change it up!

Place scents all around. Have you ever noticed that when you walk into a room with the delightful smell of fresh flowers or a perfumed candle, the mood is already set? Choose a scent you love that represents the holiday to you and invest in candles, room diffusers or potpourri that will change the ambience from ordinary to special each time you walk through the door this season – even before you hang a single decoration! Just lighting candles on a Tuesday night feels festive, don’t you think?” – Heather Garrett, Founder, Heather Garrett Interior Design

Make It Easy on Yourself – Utilize Greenery!

“The easiest and most beautiful way to decorate your home (that creates the biggest effect for the least amount of effort) is to use wreaths and strands of live greenery throughout your home. Not only does it make a big impact – it smells so good! Start with your front door, then lay greenery over your fireplace mantel and intersperse with shiny ornaments, berries and pinecones. Place a big wreath above your replace and drape swags of garland over your stair banisters or above wide doorway entrances. Most places that sell trees also sell garlands. The past several years I have gotten some beautiful ones at the TROSA tree lot.

When decorating the tree, I love using lots of white lights and strands of gold beads. Add the ornaments at the end, and get the whole family involved. It’s a fun time to bond and remember past Christmases, and it also gets the tree done faster! We always play Christmas music at the same time to get us in the holiday spirit.

Make gift wrapping simple and make a statement under the tree just by buying one or two simple designs and using them on all the presents. An inexpensive way to wrap presents is to use brown craft paper and then add beautiful ribbons of all widths and colors. I like adding sprigs of berries, tiny pinecones or magnolia leaves tied to the bows.

Instead of going overboard on your outdoor decorating, keep it simple. White lights around trees or bushes give such a peaceful and magical look. If you like to put lights on your house, drape them in swags on your front porch banisters instead of placing them in straight lines. Electric or battery-powered candles in the windows produce a wonderful glow.” – Linda Dickerson, Owner, Linda Dickerson Interiors

Mix the Elements

“The holidays are all about celebrating the season with those you love. That means making sure entertaining is stress-free, so consider these practical ideas that any one person can easily achieve when decorating the mantel, dining table or bed:

vintage-home-southLayers. Euro shams, a blanket scarf, a quilt and a throw pillow on the bed cozy up the room (we especially love incorporating cable knit). Most of us have some extra throws and such around the house that we can re-purpose, so consider shopping your house before heading out to buy new. In the dining room, pull out any meaningful pieces – china and doilies from Nana, wedding dishes, toasting flutes. We think mismatched china/glassware/silver is super swoon-worthy, so the more, the merrier. To layer, start with a charger, add a dining plate, then a napkin, a salad plate or bowl, and a fun, unexpected element on top as a place holder (a fresh sprig of rosemary with a name tied to it, Polaroids from a past party, an ornament.) Incorporating different textures also helps build interest as well – pair organic with geometric for an added pop!

Natural Elements. Bringing in something from the outdoors is one of our favorite things to crank up the festivities. I’ve literally walked a mile with a craggy stick I found while walking my dog, Buddy – it was so amazing, I just had to use it on my mantel! Also, think of assorted clippings from pines, magnolias, bright leaves, pinecones, sweet gum fruit, and, yes, craggy sticks or brilliant branches.

A Twinkle. With daylight dwindling in the winter, it’s even more important to add a little light in different areas, especially to create a festive mood. Think mercury glass, yummy scented candles, LED copper wire lights. These items can work as a layer, too, and we love them when they’re worked into natural elements.” – Jen DevlinDesigner and Curator of Vintage Home South

Less is More

“My motto for decorating during the holidays is the same I use with my interior design clients – less is more. “Shop your yard” and use items you have. It’s easy and inexpensive. Do this by mixing natural elements from outside with the classic pieces you already own. Take your bar’s ice bucket, indoor planter or large serving bowl and arrange a variety of greenery with pinecones. Fill a large serving bowl with your existing holiday ornaments. Arrange clippings of greens of boxwood, magnolia, pine, hollies with red berries and curly twigs – all at different heights and lengths in your own clear vase. As for your kitchen counter centerpiece, take a clear vase and fill it with the assorted citrus, nuts, even cranberries to achieve an easy winter vibe. Seek a simple neutral palette of white, gold and silver, which will easily complement any of your existing colors.” – Loren LambFounder of Loren Lamb Interiors and Co-owner of Vintage Vault

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Amanda MacLaren
Amanda MacLaren is the executive editor of Durham Magazine. Born in Mesa, Ariz., she grew up in Charlotte and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism. She’s lived in Durham for five years now. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her with a beer in hand at Fullsteam, Dain’s Place or Bull City Burger or getting takeout from Chubby’s.