Archive for December, 2009

Holiday Decorating: Tips from the Pros

OK, I’ll admit it…I’m one of those that  doesn’t decorate my house for the holidays. What!?! you say. How can that be? You’re a designer, your house should be decked to hilt!

Truth is, I do so much holiday decorating for my clients that by the time I’m done, I never want to see another glittered ball again. That said, because I have done so much of this over the years, I’ve learned a few things. And thought I’d share a few ideas with you, my loyal readers.

Trees: Start with the lights (white, please.) Use LOTS of them, wrapping the branches from trunk to tip. This is what gives your tree lots of sparkle and depth. Add something to hide the tree stand. I’m not a fan of tree skirts so I use a white sheet – a local retailer here uses a lambskin. Then layer on the ornaments. I like to use a variety os styles, shapes and textures. If the branches on your tree have space between them, put some of your ornaments in towards the trunk. Try adding unexpected elements to a tree… branches, flowers, vintage jewelry…all add character and give your tree texture, let your imagination go. Finally, finish it off with beautiful trailing ribbon, sheer, shimmery fabric used as garland, strings of beads or some other element that can “wrap” the whole tree.

Mix Old and New: In a recent commercial installation, I used an antique sleigh, stuffed with wrapped packages and a mod, lime green tinsel tree. The effect was terrific.

What do you do with all of those old, random glass balls? My friend and fellow elf, Charmaine, made a wonderful piece for an entry. We had a bright red urn (formerly part of a pair), some lime green tinsel garland and a random assortment of glass balls left from previous jobs. “Borrowing” from the other Martha (that’s Stewart to most of you) we loaded the urn with the tinsel garland and then piled on the balls. The effect was spectacular. Tip: be sure to hot-glue the balls or they will be falling all over your entry.

Don’t want a tree? As I mentioned, I don’t decorate for the holidays, but I DO have an annual holiday dinner party. And yes, I decorate my table. Using things I already have – none holiday specific – I can create beautiful, festive table settings without breaking the bank.

  • Use a few pine or evergreen bows running down the center of the table with a little ribbon intertwined and a few glass balls. Add lots of votives and you have a beautiful table.
  • Suspend some glass balls, glittery snowflakes or other ornaments from the ceiling over the table – or anywhere else for that matter – they don’t take up precious table space and give your dinner a cosmic flair.
  • Bypass the florist and shop in your garden. I live in the desert and don’t have a garden to speak of, so I use juniper branches, dried sage and dear brush. Loading them into low modern containers, they become landscape of subtle texture and color. Quite beautiful.
  • Candles, candles, candles – you don’t have to have elaborate candle oberas or containers. Mix votives, glassware, plates, mason jars, basically anything that will keep wax from dripping on your table. The idea is to have the mixture be random and dense. It’s the quantity of candles that makes this setting spectacular. If you happen to have some mirrors, use them underneath your candle for added flicker.
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martha@mmdsf.com 541-330-5899 www.marthamurraydesign.com

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