Festive furnishing tips from a design pro.
Looking for a stress-free way to set the mood this holiday season? Take it from West Elm’s senior vice-president of design, Johanna Uurasjarvi — making your home look haute for the holidays is easier than you think.
Decide on a theme
Start by choosing a specific style. “Do you want to be sophisticated? Do you want a calm feeling? Or do you want to do something fun this year?” asks Uurasjarvi, who suggests picking a different theme each year to mix things up. “Of course, you don’t want to invest in too many pieces, but you can layer and switch it up a bit,” she says. “I think that makes holiday decorating more exciting.”
Pick your palette
“If you want a sophisticated look, go with metallics and neutrals,” suggests Uurasjarvi. “Or, instead of red, white and green, opt for a mix of blues and greens,” she says, adding, “Navy is such a big colour right now. A blue-and-gold or blue-and-emerald combination might not be winter white, but it’s just as pretty.”
Keep it consistent
“I like repetition when it comes to decorating your tree with ornaments,” says Uurasjarvi. “Find something with sparkle that’s a little less expensive, buy lots of it, and then layer your special ornaments on top of that.” Candlelight is also an easy way to add a calm vibe and create a consistent theme throughout your home. “I buy lots of the same votives.”
Play with texture
If you’re going for a glamorous look, reach for brocade fabrics or a crushed velvet pillow. “It will give you an Old World feeling that’s still very elevated,” says Uurasjarvi. You can also create a “cozy story” using rich textures that give a sense of warmth, like a faux-fur throw or pillow. Whatever textures you choose, remember to add contrast. “If you’re going to have a heavier texture, vary it with something smoother,” advises Uurasjarvi. “If you have a sofa featuring smoother velvet, then choose accessories with a richer texture to incorporate the highs and lows.”
Spread the cheer
“I love sprinkling the holidays throughout the home,” says Uurasjarvi. “It shouldn’t just be the living room — you can decorate your bedroom and even in your bathroom, too. That way, there’s this narrative that carries through the house.” Consider creating a little vignette on your dresser featuring a paper Christmas tree sprinkled with candle light, which can easily be recreated in the washroom and entryway of your home.
In the end, avoid using too much stuff. “If you have a theme and a clear point of view, you don’t have to overdo it,” says Uurasjarvi. “Consider which vignettes you want to create and where to put them. Don’t go over the top, unless it’s presents under the tree — pile those high!”