November 18, 2011

Deck the Halls

‘Tis the season to gather the greenery and add the sparkle – and there is no shortage of choice when it comes to dressing your home in festive finery.


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas all around the Lower Mainland, with store windows resplendent with toy-laden sleighs, Santas and reindeer, magnificent light displays, welcoming wreaths and garlands wrapped in ribbons and holly. Scents and textures: pinecones, juniper, fir, mistletoe, jingle bells, golden orbs.

Harrods, Liberty London and The Bay on Queen Street in Toronto donned their festive finery more than a month ago. So no matter whether you’re a glitter and feathers or burlap and sisal type, traditional, gothic, art deco, ornate or modern, the countdown to the holiday season has begun and it’s time to start thinking about decking the halls.

We asked for help in making the holiday unforgettable from those who excel at these things, including designers, storeowners and those who just love the season. Suggestions ranged from looking back to Christmases past, gathering treasures – whether handmade ornaments or vintage memorabilia tucked away in the attic.

Liberty – the Canadian version – succeeds through a perfect balance of warmth and glamour; this year’s colour palette combines silver sage and baby blue with silver and gold sparkle. Legendary and bold, even a bit cheeky, Liberty’s must-haves for the season include a few classics, according to Yaletown store managers Dayna Faulkner and Shawn Maslechko.

“For a sophisticated and charming table setting we suggest our feather wreath with its tips sprayed a powdered grey, paired with our Tinsel Tree. And we’re really excited about the battery powered and electric faux-pillar candles. They’re the perfect no mess, no hassle way to bring a warm glow safely to your space.

“Greenery brings a breath of Christmas to a room, but we forgo traditional holly and cedar, instead bringing in real boxwood wreaths in square and round. A hint: A quick spray with hairspray will keep the boxwood wreaths fresh longer.”

Keeping things merry and bright, interior designer Rebecca Lapres uses words such as welcoming and cosy when discussing holiday décor. “It’s all about everybody going home again, inviting people in. I love a crackling fire and I’m really old-school with Charlie Brown colours – red, green and white.

“I love the idea of gathering materials, for example we have a grapevine in the back yard so I take the vines and weave them together, twisting them into a circular shape, then I poke in red berries, white snowberries, yellow cedar and other conifers. I go on a scavenging adventure around the University Endowment Lands and Van Dusen.”

Centrepieces, as well, can be assembled from simple materials such as flat, weathered driftwood, she says. “I simply inset different sizes of columnar candles as well as holly berries and branches from back lanes. At the front door I place branches with lichen – earthy things – and last year we clipped little red cardinals onto them.”

Other favourite things: golden-coloured beeswax candles, a real tree (“you can’t beat the smell of it”), a pretty footed bowl with such tempting things to eat as shortbread cookies with sprinkles.  “I’m not a proponent of trendy decorations,” Lapres says. “The best stuff is things people have made and have given you.”

Pottery Barn’s Kendra Stewart pinpoints emerging trends for the season as “anything that sparkles, and mixing contrasting elements such as earthy wood and metallic accents together. Picture a lot of layering – big wooden pillar candles with fabulous mercury glass.”

Colours evolve from year to year and this Yuletide season the store’s colour palette features classic white with metallic accents. “Mix in mercury glass accents such as the Lit Mercury Globes to add a warm shine to a holiday mantel, or fashion a whimsical tablescape by tucking metal reindeer between natural fir garlands and paperwhite flowers in shiny cachepots,” Stewart advises.

Decorative pillows and cosy colourful throws draped over chair arms add a festive yet comfortable vibe, she says. “I believe that creating a beautiful atmosphere is half of holiday decorating, so set the tone with a fun and festive holiday playlist, and be generous with candles in different shapes and sizes to create a warm and inviting holiday glow. And if you are ever in doubt, champagne in beautiful glassware creates an instant festive feeling.”

Parliament Interiors in Gastown is known for its fresh, edgy look, starting with a grey and/or white base with pops of bright colours, predominantly blues accented with warm yellows. Owner Colette Soros describes the store’s 2011 Christmas look as “shades of blue (sapphire, teal, turquoise and navy), mixed with white and grey. Really cool tones.”

A bestseller this year, she predicts, will be Parliament’s delightful, hand-painted dog ornaments, made of glass, including border collies, Labradors, dachshunds and Westies. “We’re confident they will be a big hit with all the dog owners in the city.”

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