Welcome to this month’s instalment of Dear Urbaneer, where I take questions from my readers and clients regarding all things housing and home. This month, I’m getting seasonal, helping a reader who is looking for some easy ideas to elevate his home during the holiday season – and all winter long.
Although I’m Canadian, I’m not a huge fan of winter. The shorter days, colder temperatures, and precarious weather conditions make it feel bleak to me. However, I do enjoy December because the Holiday Season is social, celebratory, and the festive spirit helps break the winter doldrums.
Having recently moved, I decided this year I’d invest more effort into bringing some Holiday decor to my home. When I came across your Easy-Breezy Outdoor Holiday Sparkle! design blog, I felt like I found a kindred spirit because your ideas are simple, stylish and clever. Which begs the questi0n, might you have some indoor decor ideas for Holiday that are similarly easy and effortless? I would be eternally grateful!
Looking For the Lighter Side
Here’s my reply:
Dear Lighter Side:
No matter what Holiday you celebrate this season, taking the time to do a little winter decor switch up in your home is a great foundation from which the fun and festivities you favour can unfold. It’s an opportunity to display your faith, share your favourite cultural traditions and engage with as much of Santa’s ‘secular Christmas’ as you wish, because the season of December is about bringing people together in a welcoming space for friendship, family, and food – all topped with the gift of gratitude.
And to do this best, you effectively have to ‘deck the halls with boughs of holly (and don we now our gay apparel)’ by transforming your home with a seasonal style enhancement. Why? Because surrounding yourself with familiar holiday decorations triggers nostalgic, happy memories about ourselves and our loved ones, while the addition of new baubles and ornaments each year biographically demonstrates our journeys through life. Over time, these items – like the homemade sailboat tree ornament I made at the age of 10 using half a walnut shell filled with hot wax, a toothpick and a triangle of wrapping paper – can represent an incredibly sentimental and heart-warming collection of a life lived well and loved. So no matter how economical you may have to be, you can create priceless memories with moments and momentoes in your holiday decor.
As a busy single professional it can be easy to forgo infusing a little Holiday into your home decor, especially if you’re more inclined to visit family and friends. However, there are easy ways to create some Special & Sparkle, so here are some of my easy tips ‘n tricks – with photos chez moi over the years – to fill your home with light, love & laughter this season.
Clean & Bright
One genius trick to making your home feel lighter and brighter isn’t limited to the holiday season and winter, but it’s essential at this time of year. What is it? It’s time to declutter!
Although a change of seasons always offers the opportunity to purge and reorganize your belongings, the holiday season is an even more perfect time for that. Why? Because you can enjoy the gift of giving by donating all the items you no longer use or want while also freeing up space for any new gifts you may receive.
Furthermore, when it comes to executing a December holiday style enhancement properly, be prepared to need more space than all the other holidays combined. Well in advance of pulling the trigger and detonating your December decor bomb, clear out the unnecessary, including the year-round decor tchotchkes in your living room competing for everyone’s attention and all the small appliances in your kitchen being overshadowed by your Instapot. Be forewarned, you don’t want to be caught squealing with joy over the gift of a giant ceramic Santa cookie jar, only to have to awkwardly place it on the floor because you clearly have no room. Nor do you want to be remembered as the clutter monkey whose Christmas Tree swallowed their living room.
Let There Be Light
While natural light is at a premium during the winter months, the darker days present an opportunity to really experiment with lighting and make it an integral part of your decor. Even a simple swap of your light bulbs from bright white to soft white can add a touch of cozy.
Winter is the time to add more lights to your decor, like a cool floor lamp or some glam table lamps. Or perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to a striking new or vintage light fixture. For some neat ones I’ve purchased, check out my post –> What’s That Glow About You?
Use your lighting to replicate natural daylight the best you can, but I personally believe every light switch in your home should be on a dimmer so that the lighting can be softer and more intimate at night. If you do that I promise you everyone will look, and feel, better. Here’s a post about my love of ambient lighting and playing with shadow in –> Strangers In The Light.
Bring The Outside In
Looking out your windows on a dreary winter’s day, it can be hard to remember what nature in full bloom looks like. Bring the outdoors in by incorporating natural materials into your décor: an evergreen tree, garlands, amaryllis, ivy berries have a definite holiday vibe. A bonus is the lovely natural aromas these bring along too.
Having fresh cut flowers is simple and lovely as well. If you are hosting overnight guests, placing a small flower arrangement in their room is an elegant touch.
I’m particularly fond of the simplicity of Paperwhites. I love Paperwhites… their pretty blooms and fresh scent lift my Spirits. Pair them with decorative snowflakes and Holiday chocolate like I did one year to welcome the season effortlessly.
Trimming The Tree
Did you know evergreen trees and boughs have been used to decorate buildings – both inside and out – during the winter season for thousands of years, well before the advent of the Christmas Tree? The Early Romans decorated their temples with evergreen wreaths at the festival of Saturnalia, held in mid-December to honour the agricultural god Saturn. And pagans in Europe displayed evergreen fir branches in their homes to celebrate winter solstice. It wasn’t until the 16th century Renaissance in Germany that devout Christians displayed decorated Christmas trees in their homes. it’s evolved from pagan origins and Christian symbolism to secular status today.
Although trimming the tree can add holiday flare to any home, you aren’t obliged to follow convention nor are you limited to a traditional evergreen tree. For example, one year, in lieu of a tree, I placed a few party necklaces and an exquisite ‘tree of peace’ – crafted by my talented textile-artist Mom – on my ten-foot-tall hand sculpture made back in 2000 by Thingmaker Dave Hind. Another year my ‘tree’ was a collection of pretty paper ornaments from Mexico attached to a string of white light hanging from a vintage ten-foot apple orchard ladder. The effect was simple, colourful, and a convivial crowd-pleaser.
In fact, it’s not often I decorate a real tree, but I did last year when the near 2-years of pandemic restrictions made me feeling sentimental and yearning for the past. I kept it classic and homespun – using pine cones and berry sprigs, candy canes tied with festive ribbons, gingerbread cookies in holiday shapes and homemade paper chains that I crafted one evening, plus twinkle lights. Lots of twinkle lights, in fact, in various sizes to mix it up all in a warm white glow. Hand’s down those multiple tiny dots of light can really add merriment to a celebration!
I love candles. In fact, not too long ago the power went out one stormy night but it took me about 20 minutes to realize because the entertainment space where I was relaxing had several dozen candles burning in glass vases. In fact, candles ablaze are a regular occurrence where ever I am because, as far as I’m concerned, there is no cosier way to bring romance and elegance to your space than to light multiple candles.
Candles figure prominently in several different holiday traditions, including Christmas, Kwanza and Hannukah. By the way, if you are celebrating Hannukah, consider getting a statement-making Menorah, which will be the focal point – quite literally – during your celebration. Similarly, there are lots of striking styles of Kinaras available to support tradition in style when celebrating Kwanza.
As for incorporating candles in your general décor, mix and match with different colours, sizes and styles. Use votives, tea lights, pillars and more. While lit candles are lovely, make sure to never leave them unattended. I often place mine in glass vases I buy at Value Village for a few dollars to mitigate the risk I burn down my home.
I will say that an easy way to bring in the shimmer and shine is to incorporate metallics in your holiday and winter décor – especially golds , coppers and silvers. These have a definitive festive vibe, and also add brightness and style to your overall décor. I tend to include metallic elements – often shiny bells in glass jars or I hang them on the tree or wreaths – to add more sparkle for the season.
In the photo above, I placed a vintage oil painting (whom I call Oberon, queen of the fairies) in its gold frame to complement the adjacent decorations. Incidentally, beyond the paper chain I made with craft construction paper and glue, everything else are flea market finds, which I used to style the foyer at The Black House!
The beauty of giving everyday items a starring role in your holiday decor is that it is easier and better for the earth! What do you have at home that could do double-duty?
It’s A Wrap!
My go-to is to bring some bling to economical brown paper wrapping. After all, brown paper is the perfect simple sleeve for your gift. It’s a blank slate to add your personality, but also provides a neutral air of mystery around the treasure inside.
Deck The Halls
We hope you embrace the season and celebrate our collective love for Yuletide. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Steve@urbaneer.com, ok?
If you’ enjoyed this blog, I encourage you to read these other posts of mine:
Dear Urbaneer: How Do We Establish Our Interior Design Style?
Dear Urbaneer: How Should We Renovate Our Kitchen With Resale In Mind?
Dear Urbaneer: Should I Renovate My House In Stages Or Do A Full Gut?
A Blog About Finding The Special To Create Your Home (Featuring Spruce Home Decor)
On The History – And Popularity – Of The Open Concept Space Plan
Dear Urbaneer: Why Is Home Staging Important When Selling Real Estate?
How To Elevate The Value Of Your Balcony, Patio, Or Terrace
Best Of Urbaneer: Style And Design
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-The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
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