The holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of the year. It is a time when we welcome family and friends into our homes to reflect on the joys of the season and mark the passing of another year. We celebrate holiday traditions – choosing the Christmas tree, decorating it with the ornaments we have collected over the years, smiling with delight over gifts bought and hidden away for our loved ones, and anticipating the joy that they will bring to their recipients. Anticipation grows as the day grows near, and we are filled with good cheer and fun.
Decorating our homes is an important part of the holiday festivities. We fill our rooms with the richness of holiday spirit and transform our surroundings with color and dazzle. When creating any interior space for clients, design professionals follow certain time honored principles. These tried and true design guidelines help in the placement of furnishings, the choice of paint and color schemes, the coordination and positioning of lighting, artwork and accessories. The application of these design principles aids in the creation of rooms that are inviting and interesting with a visual balance of weight, color and texture.
These same principles can be very effectively used when planning your holiday décor. It goes without saying that holiday decorations should complement, rather than overwhelm the character of our homes. It is much better to draw the eye to architectural features or emphasize a beautiful view than to scatter holiday baubles on every surface. Let’s explore how you can utilize these design principles when decorating your home for the holidays!
First and foremost, it is important to adopt a theme and carry it through in the decoration of the tree, tablescapes, centerpieces and mantels. Decide on the degree of formality you like…do you prefer formal silver candlesticks or handcrafted tin luminaries, ornate glass globes for the tree or carved wooden ornaments? Next, select a color scheme drawing colors from the interior design of your home or from a treasured holiday ornament.
Designate a focal point by using lighting, color and placement to accentuate a favorite area. For example, positioning the Christmas tree near a window calls attention to a wonderful view. Bear in mind that your eye will usually be drawn to the brightest colors or the most interestingly lit areas, so focus interest on a wonderful fireplace mantel with brilliant red poinsettias and romantic flickering candlelight. Speaking of lighting, add interesting light in unexpected places. Mass candles in different heights and sizes to multiply the light. A well placed mirror will reflect and intensify the flickering points of candlelight.
Create a variety of textures by using glass ornaments in matte and shiny finishes, glossy red apples, gleaming silver candlesticks, coarsely woven baskets, sugary gingerbread cookies, lush evergreens, velvety Christmas stockings or any other item that will continue your desired theme. The principle of symmetry can be very effectively used when decorating for the holidays – it provides balance and can promote a formal look. Place identical topiaries or wreaths at either side of your front entry, a grouping of candlesticks at both ends of a mantle, a pair of silver bowls filled with shiny ornaments anchoring the holiday table.
Use the principle of scale by varying the sizes and proportions of your holiday arrangements. For example, decorate your tree with a mix of small, medium and oversize ornaments. Add consistency throughout your home by the repetition of the colors and themes that you have selected. For example, if you are using shiny gold stars or silver snowflakes as your theme, use them not only on the tree, but also on your holiday table, mantelpiece displays and perhaps incorporate them into your gift wrapping.
Using an odd number of items makes decorative arrangements more pleasing. For example, use three miniature Christmas trees, five crystal angels or seven silver candlesticks. Use different heights and levels to focus attention on favorite items. Decorative objects displayed in a triangular layout (tall, medium and low) are visually pleasing.
Above all, holiday decorating should be fun. Add some whimsy and laughter to the season – wear a Santa hat, decorate your car, build a gingerbread house with family and friends. Happy holidays!