By Marni Jameson
I have moved. Again. And This … Time…Is…It. For someone who has sifted through her household contents as much as I have – this marks my seventh move in six years, beat that – someone who has pared her belongings down to what are arguably “the essentials,” I still packed far too many boxes. On moving day, they just kept coming, crashing into the new house like a multi-car pileup.
The stuff is winning. I’m exhausted and upended. The silverware is under the yoga mat; my pillow is mixed in with the garden tools. The only food I can find is the dogs’, and they’re not speaking to me. I haven’t sat down in three days. My pedometer tells me I’ve averaged 17,000 steps a day, yet I’ve never left the house. I have done so many squats and lifts, I wake up stiff as a mannequin, pretty sure rigor mortis has set in.
And now it’s holiday time.
I’ll tell you what. After packing everything I own, schlepping to the new house unpacking, arranging, rearranging, and decorating until everything is just so, the last thing I want to do is get out the Christmas decorations.
I’d rather give up coffee and chocolate for a year, even though my heart would stop, than open one more household box.
However, here’s the rub: One of the main reasons DC and I moved from the Happy Yellow House (more on this subject next week) to this also yellow house was so we could have more family stay with us over the holidays and entertain more. Some ideas are truly better in the abstract.
Box averse though I may be, I can’t be Ebenezer Scrooge now.
So, I will compromise: I will decorate, minimally, which is more tasteful anyway, and choose seasonal looks that I don’t have to box up again until well into next year.
For suggestions on how to do that, I called my friend Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for The Home Depot, and veteran home stager Janine Callahan, owner of a Showhomes franchise in Chicago. Here are their tips for decorating with a lighter touch while getting an elegant holiday look that will carry into February:
- Decorate for the season not just the holidays. Rather than hanging a wreath bearing santas, elves, candy canes or nutcrackers, hang one that can extend the season, said Fishburne. Wreaths of green foliage, embellished with colored ribbon and silk florals, and winter motifs like snowflakes won’t time out New Year’s Day. Instead of a Santa doormat put out one with a snowman. Flank your front door with topiary, wrapped in seasonal ribbon and lights, and “there’s no reason you can’t keep white lights on into winter.”
- Pick your spots. If you want a holiday look that is both simple and easy to set up (and take down), create holiday focal points, said Callahan. Don’t pepper the whole house with Christmas chotchkies as if you blasted it with a firehouse hooked up to a Michael’s store. Rather pick three to five areas and hit them big. For instance, decorate a tree, the mantle, the front door, and the powder room. Leave everything else alone.
- Let light and ribbon be the heroes. These two elements will carry you well into February without making you the neighborhood embarrassment for leaving a Santa on your lawn until March.
- Go metallic. Though classic greens and reds, are still part of the holiday color story, metallics have more staying power, said Fishburne. “Gold and silver look festive and have longevity,” she said, adding that today’s tones are less brash and shiny. “Metallics are softer, icier and muted. Gold tones are more champagne. Silver is leaning toward a whiter shimmer, and copper is more rose gold.” Another trend is mixing metallics, including gunmetal grey.
- Take advantage of battery powered lights. It’s about time someone came up with lights that you don’t have to plug in. Fishburne turned me onto wreaths, garland, and mailbox swags that use battery operated lights. No more decorating around your outlet, or putting up with dangling-cords. A glass bowl filled with gold and silver balls and a string of 10 to 20 battery-operated lights looks gorgeous on the coffee table, said Callahan.
- Take away, then add. Don’t just layer holiday décor over what you have. That gets cluttered. Remove and replace. After the season is over, switch back.
- Don’t over decorate. Over decorating is the most common mistake Callahan sees home decorators make. To get a great look, avoid using too many small things, too many colors, and too much in general. Edit. Get a palette that works with your home. (Don’t force cherry red in a house that is plum). Keep it consistent by having a common color thread. And don’t cover every surface. Keep in mind, décor is supposed to accentuate, not hide, the best features of your home, so don’t let your tree block a great view, and don’t smother your fireplace in stockings. In other words, try decorating light.
Sounds good to me.
Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of two home and lifestyle books, including Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go (Sterling Publishing 2016). You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.