If you’re still putting the finishing touches on your Christmas décor, hold up a minute.
Before you blow your savings on this year’s trendy turquoise ornaments, or if you’re finding it hard to resist the matching purple colour scheme that’s in all the magazines, consider this shrewd advice from an expert.
“I think it’s really important to be investing in things that can last for multiple seasons,” Vancouver interior designer Kendall Ansell tells the Straight over the phone. “I feel like people kind of get stuck with un-trendy holiday ornaments they don’t want to get rid of but they don’t want to use again.”
’Tis the season to think function, and not fleeting fancies—even if you want your home to look festive for entertaining.
Here are a few of her holiday-design tips that you’ll be able to put to use again and again, and in some cases, season after season.
A glass act
Opt for clear- or milk-glass vessels rather than ones that come in the hue du jour. You’ll be able to use them year-round. “For spring, they look good with spring colours, and at Christmas you can fill them with bubbly things or things that sparkle,” Ansell says.
At this time of year, they also look great with natural elements that you’ve brought in from outdoors. “A simple clear vase with twigs or pine cones gives a holiday look without spending a fortune,” she explains.
Throw it back
There’s a reason your grandmother’s precious glass ornaments didn’t go out of style over the decades—and still look great now. Vintage touches simply rise above trends.
“My biggest thing personally, and my design philosophy, is you can go out and buy all new, new, new, but if you don’t buy old or used or antique pieces too, you won’t get the room you want to achieve,” Ansell stresses. “It looks too untouched.”
So hang your vintage ornaments on your tree, as Ansell will this year, or think of using them in unexpected places. She is loving the wreath someone recently fashioned out of an antique-glass collection and posted online.
Alternately, try arranging them in a rectangular specimen vase, or in an old-fashioned cloche-dome vase with a wooden base.
Think beyond garlands and use soft furnishings for holiday accents. The key here is that you need to keep your big purchases—sofas and chairs—to neutral tones.
“When I design homes, I want you to have a sofa you could throw a red ‘JOY’ pillow on at Christmas,” says Ansell, though she stresses you can opt for less traditional colours. “A simple pillowcase can do so much, even just a creamy white one just to give your sofa a holiday mood. I think people forget about those little touches.”
Gold, bronze, silver, or white throw pillows could do subtle wonders as well, she says.
Another safe bet for tree ornaments is Ansell’s own favourite: animal themes. “I have peacocks and squirrels,” she says. “They’re not going to go out of style.”
We recently found some miniature, adorably realistic faux-fur raccoons, fawns, baby bunnies, owls, and foxes at Chapters Indigo (various locations, by Glitterville, on sale for $6); antique mercury-glass bird ornaments on the Putti website ($9.95); silver glass woodland birds sitting in a twig nest at Hudson’s Bay ($5.99, Gluckstein Home), where you’ll also find vintage-look matte-gold-foil-and-ceramic squirrels and deer ($4.99).