Want to get out of a decorating rut? Try to be creative
Sick of decking the halls with boughs of holly?
If so, consider these fresh, festive decorating ideas from local decorators and artists.
Think long-term, suggested interior decorator Kimberly Seymour of Embellir, an interior design company that serves the Capital Region.
“I find one of the biggest changes that people have made is that instead of having their decorations identify a particular holiday, they’re leaning more toward decorating for the season,” she observed.
Popular elements to include are natural materials that can be gathered on a walk in the woods, like pine cones, twigs, pine boughs and nuts. Seymour suggested adding a few colorful touches to personalize the decorations.
Artist Michael Oatman of Troy recalled an out-of-the-ordinary way an artist friend, Susan Clarke of Connecticut, found to extend the life of her holiday decorations. For years, she saved her Christmas tree and cut off the branches.
“Then, after it dried out, she would make interesting interventions, like gold leafing each oval where a branch had been, or sew a slipcover for the tree trunk. By now she must have 20 or so decorated, limbless trees. She just sticks them in a corner, leaning. They are festive ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past,’ ” he said in an email message.
Recycled items can make great decorations, Seymour agreed. Instead of throwing empty glass food jars into the recycling bin, put candles in them, she suggested.
“You can use them on your front steps to welcome people for a party; you can line them up on your table and fill them with votives,” she illustrated.
Pour some sugar in the jar to secure the candles, and voila — faux snow.
“It looks lifelike and it sparkles. You can sprinkle it on little trees, you can put it on branches, you can put it on a tray and line up candles on the tray,” she said.
Jessica Doyle, interior designer with Plum and Crimson Fine Interior Design in Saratoga Springs, suggested turning vintage postcards into ornaments by cutting them up and putting them into little frames. She recommended devoting a small “postcard” tree to a particular theme, like the place where you went to college or places you’ve visited.
Oatman likes to “Christmas-itize” things already decorating his home.
“So instead of putting up a wreath, I’ll take spruce branches and stick them into things already on the shelf, place berries and fruits and nuts on sculptures,” he said.
If there’s a chalkboard hanging somewhere in the house, transfer it to the mantle for the holidays, Doyle suggested.
“You can do a countdown to Christmas on the chalkboard, you can say something like ‘Let it snow’ — that’s something you can change day-to-day. It’s kind of fun and different from what you might typically see over a mantle, but it definitely reflects the holidays and it’s a fun way to kind of change it up,” she said.
Check basement, attic
Things stowed in the attic or basement can also be transformed into decorations.
Tris Paniccia, garden center manager at Faddegon’s Nursery in Latham, recommended incorporating old books, mirrors, sleds and frames into the holiday decorating scheme.
“Add a really nice ribbon, use the books and old suitcases as risers,” she suggested. “Put your Christmas tree up on an old suitcase. Put a suitcase up on the mantle and put candlesticks up on that.”
Those sorts of things can add a warm, nostalgic glow to the home, she said.
Changing it up color-wise is another way to give a holiday look new life. Plum and Crimson recently topped a head-turning Christmas tree with a bow made of a combination of fuschia and cheetah-print ribbon. Although Doyle admitted that such a severe divergence from the traditional red and green might not work for everyone, more vibrant versions of the old standbys might.
“Lime green alone may be out of people’s comfort zone, but when you pair it with gold, it’s just elegant, and it’s not overwhelming,” she assured.
Dan Czech, a designer with Saratoga Signature Interiors, said his customers tend to be nostalgic in their decorating tastes but are gravitating toward brighter colors this holiday season.
“The greens may be more like chartreuse or something like that, and the reds may be a little bit more vibrant. It’s still traditional; it’s not your oranges or purples,” he observed.