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For most of the year, Valerie Stafford and Lindsey Jamison, lead designers and partners at Steamboat Springs-based interior design firm Rumor Designs, help clients add stylish furnishings, accessories, and artwork to their Colorado homes. But come holiday-decorating season, their advice is to consider what they might leave out.
“The holiday-decor trap,” Jamison says, “is thinking that you have to fill every space in your home. You get out all your stuff that you’ve had for years, and you feel like you have to use every single piece.” But that just isn’t necessary, the designers say, and the clutter and flash can contribute to holiday anxiety. “Each year, you evolve as a person or as a family, so just pick out the items that are special to you for that year,” Jamison suggests.
The next step? Think like a designer. When Stafford and Jamison envision a home’s decor, they don’t consider each room in a vacuum. Instead, they think about creating a cohesive design in which colors, patterns, and materials flow from room to room. This big-picture thinking is the key to holiday-decor success, too, the Rumor team says. “It’s not just your tree or your stockings or your mantel; it’s how you take all those elements and create a vision for how they’ll work together,” Jamison says. Here’s how:
Pick a Color Palette
“Not everything has to be red and green,” Jamison says. “Consider starting with a neutral color palette, then adding in some reds and greens and patterns with your wrapping paper and ribbons.” When choosing green accents, the designers suggest opting for dark, rich, forest greens, which “emphasize that natural aesthetic,” Jamison says. For sparkle, consider copper. “When combined with those rich, organic greens, it’s a really beautiful look,” Jamison adds.
Emphasize Natural Materials
Metallic trees, faux poinsettias, and frosted garlands? Not so much, say Jamison and Stafford. Instead, bring in the beauty of the outdoors with fresh garlands (try olive or eucalyptus as an alternative to fir; Jamison suggests searching Etsy for handmade sources), florals, and grasses. “Pampas grasses are popular right now and are nice organic touches you can add into your garlands or use to create a full wreath,” Jamison says. And while colored lights can be fun outside, the designers recommend using simple white lights indoors to emphasize the natural vibe and mimic the sparkle of falling snow.
Deck Your Entry Hall
“Everyone decorates the tree and mantel, but dressing up the entryway for the season is a nice touch, too,” Jamison says. “Here, you can replace a mirror or artwork with a beautiful wreath, and if you have a console table, consider adding a garland and some simple cone-shaped Christmas trees.”
Go Big with the Tree
Here’s where your inner maximalist can shine. “I like a tree filled with mixed ornaments—everything from things the kids made to old family heirlooms to pieces picked up during my travels; this is where you can really get nostalgic,” says Jamison, who plans to add some large white feathers to the array this year. For more color and softness, try ribbon. “I’m a big ribbon person,” Jamison says. “I start at the top and go vertical, letting the ribbon naturally flow down the tree.” What color is best? “Gold or copper are really beautiful with white lights,” the designer says. “The wider the ribbon, the better, and it can even have a shimmer to stand out against the tree—but save the pattern for the gifts underneath.”
Spiff Up Your Gift Wrap
“Pick a simple color palette for your wrapping papers,” Jamison recommends. “For example, a black-and-white buffalo-check paper mixed with a modern, graphic pattern in traditional holiday colors creates a really fun moment versus just Santas and reindeer.”
Contain Your Collections
Can’t pass up a good-looking nutcracker or holiday village scene? Collections are great if they’re special to you, Jamison says, but scattering those pieces around every nook and cranny can feel too busy. Instead, group items from a collection together—atop a console or shelf—so they can have a moment to shine without creating clutter.
Let the Stockings Star
There are a million ways to style a mantel; to narrow your options, let your stockings be your guides. “If you have homemade, hand-knitted stockings with beads and lots of embellishments on them, then keep the mantel decor simple,” Jamison advises. “You don’t even have to have a garland on the mantel; you can keep it clean and hang a wreath above. The rule here—and throughout a holiday house—is less is more.”