5 Experts on Tasteful Holiday Decorating

By: House Method Editors Entertaining, Holiday

We asked five home design and décor experts how they create timeless and tasteful looks for the holidays. Learn how to elevate simplicity, use color and light, play on timeless themes, and create a beautiful holiday environment.

Use monochrome to elevate simplicity

If you want to create a more unified and tasteful way to decorate this holiday season, a monochromatic color scheme will work wonders. Pick a traditional color like red for a very old world Christmas message, or if you want something more modern a white scheme will do the trick. If you adopt this approach, try to be very strict with yourself and it will be easier to pull off…so this means white ornaments, socks on the mantles, and even garlands all in the same color. The big advantage of this technique is that you can use very inexpensive ornaments but the singular color will elevate them all.

If a color theme is not your thing, try a more understated approach. One or two things on the mantle or concentrate your efforts just on the tree or in the front yard. Just one or two pieces artfully arranged can give your décor an elegant, restrained feel.

Lighting is another way to make your décor pop. Try not to mix and match too many colors or styles of lights. Ideally if you can find a string light that you really like, use only that but on mass. This will give a rich, layered feeling to your outdoors without looking like a carnival.

Also regarding the exterior, plan the message that you want to send. One of my least favorite things is to see a manger scene with Santa looking on. Pick one lane or the other, or maybe it’s just candy canes or even angels, but a singular message will create a tidy look that will make you the elegant house on the block.

—Mark Cutler, Mark Cutler Design

Use volume to make a statement

My best advice is to create a repeating pattern, either in each room or throughout the house. If you’re going to hang a wreath on the front door, hang them in all the windows across the front of the house as well. Repeat everything—three pots of paperwhites is a sentence, thirty of them is a statement.

—Scot Meacham Wood, Scot Meacham Wood Design

Pair fruits and plaids

Decorate more than the tree. Dress the windows and the doors, the casings and the mantels. Eucalyptus is one of my most favorite greens, not only for the way it looks but for it’s heavenly aroma. Mix it with bay leaves and spruce for classic design. Add ribbon and fruit for extra color. My personal favorites are oranges and lemons.

Last but not least, if you are anything like me, you are mad about plaid. Another beautiful way to add your favorite holiday color while keeping it tasteful and divine.

—Kristen McCory, McCory Interiors

Repeat everything—three pots of paperwhites is a sentence, thirty of them is a statement.”

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Go big or go home

Take advantage of seasonal fruit! A holiday staple such as cranberries can be used within an out-of-the-box centerpiece or as table décor.

Don’t be afraid of height! Cluster tall arrangements in seasonal colors in the center of your dining table to create a focal point for your tablescape.

Place voluminous arrangements onto a bar or bar cart to add a seasonal touch to an essential gathering spot.

—Bronwen Smith, B Floral

Work with the room

One of the keys to tasteful holiday décor is to integrate it into the décor of the room. Use colors that complement the existing colors of the room rather than just piling on decorations in traditional holiday colors that may clash with the décor.  

Natural elements—produce, nuts, and vines—for the fall holidays or a variety of cut evergreens for the winter holidays are always elegant additions and work well with any color scheme. Festive metallics like gold and silver add a touch of glamour and reflect light.

For Christmas lights, I prefer warm white lights that mimic the color of candlelight—candles were the original Christmas tree lights after all!

Coordinate your wrapped packages with the colors of the décor for a cohesive scheme.

Janet Lorusso, JRL Interiors


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