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Trimming the Tree

Trimming the Tree

Local Designers Share Their Holiday Decorating Tips

WHEN THE THANKSGIVING FESTIVITIES are over, pulling out the Christmas decoration boxes can be exciting and nostalgic. Revisiting memories of the unique accents that adorn our homes around the holidays makes Christmas decorating all the more festive and fun. We sat down with three local designers to get tips and tricks on holiday decorating from incorporating fresh décor to tackling the tree.

photo courtesy: Brandy Penedo

Brandy Penedo of B Styled Home

INO: What’s the most important part of holiday decorating for you?

BP: The most important part of holiday decorating for me is the beloved Christmas tree. The tree always sets the tone for everything.

INO: How do you recommend incorporating old, beloved pieces or family heirlooms into new decor?

BP: My design flare tends to lean toward mixing in the old with the new. A home should always tell the story of the homeowner. Displaying those pieces not only helps tell the story, but also allows for them to cherish their special memories near and dear to their heart. Navigating through and finding new pieces to complete the story is always a fun and exciting challenge.

INO: What’s your advice for decorating a tree?

BP: One of my first steps in decorating a tree following the lights, of course, is to fill in its hollow spots with the largest ornaments and/or pieces. This allows for an even canvas for all of the remaining ornaments and decor.

photo courtesy: Brandy Penedo

INO: What are some of your favorite items for the holidays?

BP: Some of my favorite holiday items I like to use are natural elements such as dried foliage, full and large garlands, and of course, vintage pieces.

INO: Trees: Fresh, faux or flocked?

BP: As much as I love the smells of a freshly cut Christmas tree, I typically recommend the investment of a good faux tree. It tends to be easier incorporating the wired branches for installing the ornaments/decor all while keeping things in place. A lightly flocked tip tree is currently my favorite style of tree. I love how it gives a timeless and vintage feel.

INO: What are your tips on choosing ornaments?

BP: My advice for choosing ornaments is to staywithin a three-color ornament scheme. This will allow for you to build your ornament collection over time and you will then have the option of interchanging color themes throughout the years without having to buy all new ones.

INO: What’s your most memorable holiday decorating project?

BP: My most memorable holiday decorating project would have to be when a family friend of ours unexpectedly lost their son at the beginning of the holiday season. My heart couldn’t let them go through the holidays without a Christmas tree. My husband and I found the most perfect 10-foot flocked real tree (that the tree lot owner ended up donating when hearing the tragic news). I snuck in and fully decorated the tree with all of their family’s special ornaments and added in a few new ones for the finishing touches. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we revealed the tree surprise.

INO: What’s your favorite personal holiday tradition?

BP: My personal favorite holiday tradition is watching my daughters decorate their tree that we have especially for them. It is a 1950s vintage style faux tree that they fill each and every branch with their own special handmade ornaments and ones they’ve collected over the years. We always have it displayed it in the dining room for family and guests to enjoy for holiday gatherings and Christmas dinner.

Jacquelyn Lindsey of JL Studio Designs

Jacquelyn Lindsey of JL Design Studio.
(photo: DOMINIQUE VERDIER)

INO: When approaching a holiday decor project, what’s your first step?

JL: When approaching a holiday décor project, I like to first start with deciding on a cohesive theme and color palette. I believe it’s important that each room throughout the home flows together nicely so that spaces don’t clash with each other. For example, maybe your theme is wintery white, or maybe it’s traditional reds and greens. Whatever your theme is, it should be consistent from the exterior to the interior. The outside of your home sets the tone for what’s to come on the inside.

INO: How do you recommend incorporating old, beloved pieces or family heirlooms into new decor?

JL: One of my favorite things when it comes to decorating and design is incorporating newer items with old family heirlooms, but I believe there is an art to properly mixing them together. When it comes to contrasting styles, I consider scale, proportion, color, texture and placement. For example, I might stage a modern tabletop tree with a traditional picture frame next to it that has an old family photo in it. I love bringing out old picture frames during the holidays because it’s an important time to remember our loved ones and what’s most important to us.

INO: What’s your advice for decorating a tree?

JL: There are many factors to think about when decorating a tree. For starters, you have to decide on what color background you want for the ornaments. Will your ornaments pop more against a green tree, a flocked tree or a colored tree? Once you decide the tree color, then you should choose an ornament style that you like. I prefer ornaments to have a consistent theme while mixing five to seven different styles, depending on the size of the tree. I use larger, spherical ornaments to disguise gaps and to create layers of depth in natural trees. Then I use smaller, lightweight ornaments for the ends of the branches so the tree doesn’t sag overtime after bearing weight.

When stringing lights on a tree, I like to use lights that have a cord that matches the color of the tree. It’s better if the cord blends into the tree so the attention can be on the ornaments and not the cords. If you’re doing a flocked tree, I recommend thinking about the temperature of the light bulbs and how that affects the color of the flock. Warmer light bulbs can make the white flock turn yellow or lime green while cooler light bulbs will keep your tree looking crisp white when it’s lit.

A beautiful monochromatic room grandly decorated by Jacquelyn Lindsey for Christmas.
(photo: BAK RIZAEV)

INO: What are some of your favorite items for the holidays?

JL: Some of my favorite items to incorporate into holiday decorating are floral arrangements, mood lighting, garlands and figurines for tabletops. I personally love reindeer because I think they are elegant and relatable to everyone whereas some guests may be sensitive to more specific things like crosses or Santa Claus decorations.

INO: Trees: Fresh, faux or flocked?

JL: I love all Christmas tree types but the selection depends on the style of the home and what vibe you want to create with your tree. Fresh green trees are great in more traditional styled homes while flocked is best for more modern, light and airy spaces. I recommend artificial trees for using larger, heavier ornaments because the wired branches can support weight better.

INO: Can you share advice on holiday decorating for small spaces?

JL: When decorating smaller spaces, I like to dress up existing elements of the home rather than bringing in new items that take up floor space. Adding a garland to drape your mirror or stair railing can make a huge impact without encroaching on the space. Swapping out throw pillows is also a small, easy way to make the room feel festive. Adding candle lighting to a kitchen island or coffee table is an inexpensive way to create ambiance and make your space smell like the holidays.

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INO: What’s your favorite personal holiday tradition? JL: This may sound strange, but one of my favorite holiday traditions is actually wrapping the gifts. I enjoy making the wrapping décor of each present something special and unique to open. I like to incorporate greenery, florals and ornaments into the wrapping because it becomes an extension of the gift inside. There is also something magical about spending time with family while admiring the tree, sipping eggnog, looking at the pretty lights and enjoying the fresh scent of the tree.

Christopher Guthrie of Christopher Jeffery Guthrie Events & Design, LLC

INO: How do you recommend incorporating old, beloved pieces or family heirlooms into new decor?

CG: I’m a very sentimental person so in my own decor I have lots of family pieces. When it comes to my clients, I love when they have special things they want to use every year. I typically approach it with a “less is more” point of view so that those special items are the highlight of the decor!

INO: What’s your advice for decorating a tree?

CG: The first thing is to commit to an aesthetic. Whether it’s a color palette, theme or specific style. Then don’t be afraid to incorporate different textures in the tree, such as glass ornaments, feathers, ribbon, etc. Make it your own! My favorite style is “classic Christmas.”

photo courtesy: Christopher Guthrie

INO: What are some of your favorite items for the holidays?

CG: Two words: Christmas Spode! I love this time of year when I get to use my Christmas china! Not only is it festive but it’s meaningful because it’s the same china my Grandma used. I also love to decorate with fresh greenery, Holly berries and the perfect holiday ribbon!

INO: Trees: Fresh, faux or flocked?

CG: My personal favorite is a fresh Christmas tree. However, that may not be an option for everyone. There are beautiful choices for faux and flocked trees. So just choose what works best for you and make it your own through the decor!

INO: What are your tips on choosing ornaments?
CG: 
My number one tip is to choose ornaments that evoke joy! Ornaments that are different sizes, finishes, textures, etc., create a visually pleasing Christmas tree. But my favorite ornaments are those that have been gifted to me by special people, ornaments from my childhood and ornaments that hold special memories.

photo courtesy: Christopher Guthrie

INO: Can you share advice on holiday decorating for small spaces?

CG: If you’re decorating a small space, pencil trees are a great option because it provides the same impact as a normal size tree with balance to the rest of the space.

INO: What’s your favorite personal holiday tradition?

CG: There are so many things I love about this time of year—from experiencing all of the New Orleans holiday festivities, to hosting my annual Christmas cocktail party. If I had to choose just one, my favorite holiday tradition is something I’ve been doing since I was a child. I love going to church on Christmas Eve in my hometown and then gathering for family dinner at my Aunt Mike’s house while the children wait for Santa to ride by on the fire truck.

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