Home Style - Deck the halls

Get advice from an interior decorator on how to personalize your home for the holiday season.

Written by loghome loghome


Deck The Halls
Personalize the holidays with the power of 
creative thinking


By Kurt Cyr

f only for a brief period, the holiday season allows us to indulge in childlike flights of fantasy. That is the magic of the season. As temporary and fleeting as they may be, holidays become a font of memories. And that is what is important.

As a designer, I always look forward to the holiday season as a way to release creative energy. I enjoy blending unexpected combinations of texture, shape and color. And because it is all temporary, there is the freedom to experiment. Over the years, the holidays have become a design laboratory of themes and ideas for me.

There are several ways to incorporate a theme into your holiday decor. Sometimes, it can be as simple as using a single material in a variety of ways. For instance, paper, lace or even straw could be used as a theme. Other times, the theme can be much more unusual. Think about combining interesting motifs, like polka dots and snowflakes, or regional images, like elk and pepperberries or even oysters and pearls. Then it can be done with color. Choose a color scheme and swathe the holiday's festivities in a single color or combination.

When deciding on a single material to be showcased for the holidays, it is important to pick something that will offer a myriad of possibilities for texture, color and interest. But where does one begin?

Here is where a game plan comes into play. Pick your theme and design your decorative scheme, or at least outline your ideas. 

I'm a firm believer in lists. To check a completed item off the list is a very rewarding feeling. A list lets you see not only where you need to go, but also how far you have come. There is the tree to decorate, as well as the house, and don't forget the gifts! Continue your theme right down to the packages under the tree. Figure out what you would like to do before you start shopping for supplies. You'll reduce those last minute trips for forgotten items.

Relive the wonder of Christmas with your children by creating your next holiday theme around paper. This effort also evokes memories of childhood projects, when colored construction paper and paste glue were staples of our existence. And, paper offers a great range of decorating options. It is inexpensive and widely available, while affording a plethora of possibilities. Begin by selecting a collection of coordinating papers from your local art supply store. Remember to take into account color, texture, pattern and weight. By mixing and matching the papers on the various projects, you'll achieve a spectacular and unique holiday decorative scheme.

The basic paper chain garland will take on new beauty by alternating links of iridescent hand-blocked paper. Instead of a single strand, what about double or triple strands draped together around a hand-hewn timber or swagged over the windows instead of evergreens? And where there are garlands, there need to be tassels. This is easy to do. Cut a rectangular piece of paper. Make even cuts with scissors or a utility knife, leaving a 1 1/2-inch band at the top. Then roll the sliced piece of paper, and secure the top with clear tape or glue. A decorative band can be wrapped around the top. Gently flair the cut strips to soften the tassel. Attach the completed tassel to the chain with a loop of paper.

Another easy project with paper is to create cones to be filled with candies or small gifts. These were staples in Victorian times. Cut a piece of paper either 4 or 5 inches square, and draw an arc from one corner. This can be done by using a compass or a push pin and a bit of string with a pencil attached. Start at one corner; extend the compass to the adjacent corner, and draw an arc to the opposite corner. Then cut along the arc. Wrap the fan shape together, and secure with tape or glue. Use a paper clip to hold the sides together until the glue is dry. Attach a piece of twine or decorative wire, fill with treats, then hang on the tree or on door knobs. These cones can be further embellished with trims and tassels or layered with translucent paper.

Last year's Christmas cards make cheery holiday decorations. Glue backsides to backsides with a ribbon in between, and you have instant ornaments for the tree. Current Christmas and holiday cards add a color punch to the holiday schemes. String them on monofilament (fishing line), and hang them from branches or evergreen boughs to make an impromptu mobile.

Break with stodgy convention when planning your next holiday color scheme. Red and green are fine, but very much expected. Do you wear only pink and your spouse blue? Give the holidays a boost this year with a new color combination. If you are leery of straying too far from the tried-and-true, perhaps a reinterpretation of the old red and green scheme may work for you. Just move up the color spectrum from green and you will find chartreuse. Move down and find sage, or even lower to find rich, exotic bronze green. Red can be much more dramatic when it's not candy-apple. Try a deep Bordeaux or even a dazzling iridescent pink. Choosing color combinations is just like playing the piano. The hues in a color range are like notes on a scale. By combining them delicately, you can create a subtle concerto. But do it boldly, and you have a symphony.

As you can see, almost anything can be used to create the foundation for a holiday theme. Now, the challenge?and fun?is to find one that has special meaning for you and your family and use it to personalize the holidays. ?

Interior designer Kurt Cyr writes from Reseda, California, and is the author of Centerpieces Through
the Year.

Maple Island Log Homes photo