Christmas decorations – a guide to stress-free decorating

In order to understand how to choose the right Christmas decorations for your own home, we need to look back in time a little – to the Victorians. They took their inspiration from nature – their gardens or nearby woods. They used fir trees and collected greenery, holly, pinecones and berries.  They covered their windowsills and mantelpieces with it, hung it over their artwork, and created wreaths and garlands.  (“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” as the carol goes!) The strong colours – rich greens, reds and browns – worked well in their houses, with the heavy furnishings and colours.  Traditional Georgian and Victorian houses still look amazing at Christmastime, dressed in this style.
Gradually, over time, gold and glitters were added into the mix, for even more opulence, and soon more colours were introduced for variety. By 1880, Woolworths’ manufactured baubles were being sold, and they gradually replaced the sweets, cakes and ribbons and gifts that used to hang on the trees.  The traditional candles that were attached to the tree were also replaced – by electric fairy lights.  Practicality took over, and artificial trees, wreaths and garlands were introduced, in more and more styles and colours. Lightweight, glittery and shiny. We now have new trends and themes each Christmas and with so much choice out there, many people struggle to dress their house for the season. Something that looked beautiful in the store won’t necessarily be right for their home.  It’s almost become as ‘complicated’ as styling the home during the rest of the year!
how to choose christmas decorations
So, here are my pointers for successful seasonal styling:
Colour:
First and foremost, think about the colours already in your home. Matching the colours of the Christmas decorations to those already in the room which will enhance the scheme. (See above photo for my own decorations, orange and brown to match the cushions and curtains.) If they are traditional rich warm golden colours, then take the Victorian approach and add lots of greens, reds, golds, and orange decorations. If you have cool blues, greens and soft natural colours, look at the modern shiny turquoise and green selections mixed with silvers and white. If you have purples or pinks, look at the modern dark purple and cerise baubles and use them sparingly, mixed with lots of silver and white.  You can still use gold in a modern home, but use the lighter, whiter golds rather than the heavy yellow ones and mix it with a white, snowy theme.  Silvers can be light and bright, or this year in particular I have seen more tarnished / vintage silver both in baubles and other decorations such as tealight holders, ornaments. These look amazing with most of the modern colour schemes.
Style:
Consider the style of your home. Use your decorations to enhance any themes you already have … country, shaker, vintage, rural, traditional, minimalist… the list is endless. In a more traditional home you can either use the Victorian approach, adding more warmth and luxury, or for a more modern approach you can add subtle, elegant, neutral decorations to your scheme. A green tree with white lights and neutral decorations (no bright colours) will blend beautifully.  If the style of your home is modern, minimalist, light and airy, you can enjoy any of the contemporary styles available in the stores now.   Mix silver and white in with your colours, as they will reflect the chrome and white already present in a modern room.  Try not to mix opposite styles together – cheap and cheerful Santa decorations will spoil the effect of an elegant snowy-white themed room for example.  (The easiest way to deal with children’s decorations is to have one room in the house just for them and make it special with all their favourite items on show.)
Position:
Consider what decorations you actually need in the room, to enhance it.  Remove some of your current ornaments to allow space for the seasonal ones. Add a tree if possible, as the main focal point, then consider where else you want to draw attention to. The fireplace? The table? Decorate these areas with garlands, wreaths, candles and ornaments in the right style and colours.  Less is more, so only decorate the areas you want to highlight and leave other spaces free.
fireplace

Fireplace focal point

Declutter:
If you’re going to make the effort to dress your home for Christmas, don’t waste your time! If you leave all your general household clutter out all over the surfaces in a room then this will counteract the effect you are trying to produce. Your colour scheme will be ruined by a bright yellow telephone directory and a pink box of chocolates etc. You may also need to remove an item of furniture to make enough room for the tree.  Don’t squash everything together and squeeze the tree in as an afterthought, it will only look amazing if you can see the whole tree.
Budget:
Few people can afford to replace all their old decorations in one fell swoop – and many people struggle to change their scheme because of happy memories attached to old decorations.  The trick here is to take a good look at the items you know you can’t be without. Then build a new scheme around them, including them in it. Mixing old and new together can work if you’re careful with colours.  The photo below is from my own tree.  A few years ago, I had the urge to buy a chocolate brown Christmas Tree.  My living room is burnt orange and brown, so the tree looks amazing with orange, copper and brown baubles.  But I had some mis-matched ornaments from my Grandparents tree that I wanted to include, so each year I put a selection on my tree and even though they don’t match the scheme perfectly, they look great.
old christmas decorations

My Grandparent’s bird ornament on my tree

Add your own personal touches:
Even if you have the money to go to a store and buy everything they have in a particular theme, it may feel false – like a page in their catalogue. Think how you can add your own touches to the room – those that can’t be bought ready-made from a shop. Use old decorations but spray them another colour. Tie big ribbons around cushions.  Fill big glass vases with coloured baubles. Place clusters of candles together in artificial snow (non-flammable!).
But most of all, give yourself time to enjoy choosing your Christmas decorations and displaying them. No last minute panics and a “that will do” approach!
Please contact me with any comments or queries, or if you would like help with any of your Christmas decorations:
Lynn Pick
Home Stylers Ltd
Tel 01509 551392

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