This year, when Denver’s Hotel Teatro set about creating a welcoming home away from home for the holidays, they asked calligrapher and stylist Hannah Howard to sprinkle her fairy dust on the property. Howard, the founder of local calligraphy, design, and styling firm Ink & Root, knows the hotel well: She has hosted several instructional events at the Teatro, on topics that range from calligraphy to gift-wrapping. When the hotel asked her to take on the task of decking the halls, she decided to let coziness guide her design, which highlights natural elements, including greenery by Sarah Tedford of Ladybird Poppy Floral Design.
“I’m not an interior designer,” Howard says, “but I love to entertain and I love creating little vignettes. Everything I do is very simple, but with the goal of evoking a feeling of cozy comfort. At the Teatro, my main focus was simply to have people walk in the door and feel at home.”
Here, Howard shares how she created the elegant, welcoming look—and how you can too.
Work with what you have. “I love arranging things I already have into cute vignettes, like I did in the Teatro’s library. I wrapped empty boxes in pretty paper and set them on the shelves along with the books. The big antlers were already in the room, but I added fairy lights to them. And the room always features lots of candles in hurricane vases; I just added greenery.”
Offer an unexpected holiday greeting. Howard is a professional calligrapher, so it’s no surprise that her 8-foot-tall “love letter” in the hotel lobby is a showstopper. But the rest of us can get the look too: Howard suggests arming yourself with an acrylic paint pen from Meininger and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser from the grocery store. Then, take a deep breath and write a short holiday message on a mirror in your home. A little water and the eraser will take care of any mistakes, and the charm of your handwriting will stand out—and give guests a personal holiday welcome.
Add lots of greenery. Whether it’s pinecones gathered during a winter walk or greenery from the florist, this is the time of year to bring natural elements inside. “Fresh greens are so simple and cozy, and really budget-friendly,” Howard says. “They make everyone feel at home.”
Embrace texture. Texture is the key to creating design interest at home, Howard says. To get it, combine décor items of different finishes, colors, and heights on a tabletop, mantel, or windowsill. “With natural greens and pinecones, colorful accents really stand out,” Howard says. Try twigs with red or white berries, or even gold pinecones for a little shimmer.