It is hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. With temperatures still hanging around the 60 degree mark in St. Louis, it can be difficult to embrace the season and get in the spirit. While I encourage my interior design clients to plan ahead I always find myself behind the curve when it comes to decorating my home for the holidays. My procrastination may be a form of rebellion against my upbringing.
Growing up, my mom went all out for the holidays. Not only did it look like the Griswold's from the street, but Karen took it to a whole new level inside: our shower curtains, towels and bedding were switched out to winter motifs, hand soaps were in the shape of trees and our answering machine greeting was recorded with background music of "Let it Snow" (the Elvis version), just to name a few. While I may not share the same level of enthusiasm I do love this time of year and believe there are certain areas of the home that deserve to shine. Here are some insider tips to find inspiration and the areas in your home that will make the biggest impact for you and your guests during the holidays.
Plan a day with family or friends to get out and explore St Louis' local resources. Historic St. Charles Main Street and Kimmswick are great destinations to walk, shop and dine a day away. Gain inspiration from the shops fully decorated showrooms and maybe even a head start on your holiday shopping too!
If you don't have a full day to dedicate, make sure you visit Three French Hens 10,000 square foot showroom in Wildwood or The White Hare's 7300 square foot showroom in St. Peters for endless inspiration and access to unique designer accessories and furnishings. The Missouri Botanical Garden's "Garden Glow" (November 21-January 2) and Central West End's "Window Walk" (December 5-31) are quickly becoming St. Louis traditions. These events celebrate the season, not necessarily a particular holiday, and continue to grow in popularity.
Curb appeal is important any time of year, but even more so at the holidays; you want your guests to feel welcomed before they ever enter your home.
Garlands and wreaths made of evergreens like spruce, pine and holly are great foundations to any winter dÃ©cor. Incorporating seasonal elements such as pinecones, branches and berries provide added texture. Beautiful ribbon or even a monogrammed initial can provide a pop of color and incorporate your personality. Instead of storing your decorative urns and lanterns away for winter, fill them with similar elements and add flameless candles to create another layer of interest. For a designer touch, add a rocking chair with a decorative pillow and throw blanket next to a basket full of wood or a winter sled to take your entry to another level and cause immediate envy among your neighbors. I know my mom would be upset if I didn't also suggest a winter themed front door mat to complete the look.
As a designer, the visual impact of interiors is always a primary consideration, but in an entry foyer I always try to incorporate the smells and sounds of the season as well. K. Hall Studio and Maven Bath & Candle are a few of my favorite local treasures for candles and diffusers. When hosting a holiday party I always suggest concealing a mobile docking station/speaker and taking advantage of your favorite Pandora or iTunes holiday radio stations to welcome guests with sounds of the season.
A thick garland draped down a staircase is a beautiful and elegant way to set the stage and address one of the most dominant features in your foyer entryway. I suggest pairing paperwhites, berry branches, white poinsettias or red amaryllis to create a beautiful floral for your entry table. White candles in crystal holders add ambiance and sparkle light throughout the space.
The fireplace is naturally the focal point in any room, making this by far the easiest place in your home to add holiday cheer. Always start with a theme. It can be something as simple as a color palette like blue and silver, a style such as rustic, or you can select a theme like winter wonderland.
The best part about a fireplace mantel is that a little goes a long way, so you can splurge on the one special piece that will set the stage. A framed mirror can act as anchor for your dÃ©cor but a piece of art or even a wreath works beautifully. Create visual balance by placing items of similar height and size opposite of each other on the mantle. Use books, decorative boxes or candleholder bases to achieve staggered heights. I also strongly recommend repeating elements and combining textures. For example, if you have an apothecary jar full of pine cones on one side of the mantel, place a few loose ones on the opposite end. When using real candles, always take extra care and give special consideration to proximity of the flame to a wall or other decorative items. Flameless or LED candles are a realistic and safe substitute to the real thing and come in many sizes and colors.
The dining room is the one space in your home which encourages everyone to gather. This is typically the one room without distractions like a TV to pull your attention away from each other. It is important to create an inviting, comfortable area that promotes staying a while and enjoying each other's conversation. There are two rules that I never break when decorating a dining room table.
Rule 1: Never obstruct the view of people seated at the opposite side or end of your table.
Rule 2: Never use anything scented such as candles or potpourri at your table.
Beyond that, the options are endless when it comes to your table dÃ©cor.
So, how do you approach decorating a dining table? Start with your plate settings. Consider your typical holiday menu when using the formal dining space. Make sure you have appropriate room to accommodate the various plates and glasses you will use during the course of your meal, and then fill in the void with decorative items. At a minimum, your place settings should include a place mat or charger, a dinner plate and a salad plate with a pattern or texture. Typically you will not leave glassware out on the table on a daily basis, but will set it out prior to guests' arrival. Including a name card and printed menu at each place setting may add a welcoming and personal touch for your guests.
When you have finally embraced the season and begin feeling the magic of the holidays, it is time to set your sights on your own home. If you require any on-the-spot decorating inspiration, visit our holiday Pinterest board specifically created to illustrate the ideas conveyed in this article. If you are like many of our clients and prefer to come home one evening to a beautifully decorated home, please give us a call 314-822-7006 and we can discuss holiday services and available design packages.
As an added bonus, we included a list of local resources mentioned in this article along with links to their website for hours and locations.
Three French Hens (West County)
The White Hare (St Charles County)
K. Hall Studio
Maven Bath & Candle Co.
St Charles Main Street
Central West End "Window Walk"
Missouri Botanical Garden "Garden Glow"