When it comes to holiday decorating, I tend to take a less is more attitude. Don't get me wrong, I love the season and the holidays but I tend to think that we all spend so much time perfecting our homes throughout the year, so it's important that the original design intention still shines through. Lots of candlelight, natural boughs and branches, twinkly lights and a roaring fire are my favourite holiday additions.
Here a few ideas I stumbled on that struck a chord for me:
A small faux white tree set on a rusty painted cart is a perfect addition to an artistic, all-white small space. No ornaments needed!
A white stoneware jug filled with snowberries and encircled with pine cones makes a pretty centerpiece in paired-back white dining room.
This shot of the stunning stone fireplace in the bedroom at designer Jill Kantelberg's country home was one of our bestselling holiday covers ever. It's such a stunning room that all it needs is a roaring fire, lush greenery lining the mantel and a red throw that plays off of the warm red colour in the gingham wing chairs.
I'll be honest, I am not a big fan of e-cards (they're way too forgettable). I am way more excited to open up a gorgeous Christmas card from my mailbox, and a painted bulletin board is an easy way to show them off. I love this idea for a family home. Paired with sparkly accessories like a crystal ball, silver candlesticks, and a three-dimensional star, it creates a simple but pretty holiday vignette.
A small gold cup full of faux silver dollar branches makes a perfect table setting accent. Sometimes just a bit of sparkly gold is all you need. Small and delicate goes a long way.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is this massive holiday centerpiece seen in a modern home. Organic is always the way to go in a neutral space, although, I'll admit, this is a tad too big as a centerpiece on a dining table. The guests wouldn't be able to see each other while dining! But it would be impressive in the middle of a buffet table.
Lighting is the best way to create a magical holiday effect. I love that Sarah Richardson hung these glowing wicker balls in the trees surrounding her country home when we shot it last winter. Set amongst the snowy landscape, it looked totally ethereal. Martha Stewart did the same thing at Turkey Hill, too.
Candles and soft lighting also go a long way in a small city backyard. Here, in our November 2010 issue, Morgan Michener nestled an old-fashioned glass lantern into a windowbox to welcome guests with a warm flicker. And to the right, ice lanterns made by pouring water into buckets create a soft glow with tealights placed inside. They would look gorgeous on an outdoor table surrounded with freshly fallen snow. If you have a clear view to a backyard or balcony, you can dress up the outside of your house in holiday decor — big impact without overtaking the inside of your house.
A classic birdbath takes on a whole new life in the wintertime wrapped in dried vines and twinkly lights.
Even simple tin lanterns paired with a bucket full of branches and an urn full of boughs creates a gorgeous effect on a rooftop balcony.
I love the simplicity of this giant wreath set atop a stack of wood for a relaxed and rustic decorating hit.
For more festive ideas, see our Designers' Holiday Decorating Tips photo gallery.
1. Kim Davies' home, Gap Interiors, photography by Robin Stubbert
2. Heather Shaw's home, House & Home November 2009 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
3. Jill Kantelberg's home, House & Home November 2003 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
4. House & Home November 2007 issue, photography by Nina Teixeira
5. House & Home December 2008 issue, photography by Tracy Shumate
6. House & Home November 1997 issue, photography by George Whiteside
7. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
8. House & Home November 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
9. House & Home December/January 2001 issue, photography by Ted Yarwood
10. House & Home November 1999 issue, photography by Rob Fiocca
11. House & Home November 2005 issue, photography by Michael Alberstat