November 14, 2012

Home for the holidays


Don’t worry about overdoing your Christmas decorations, says designer Geèle Soroka. “You know how they say that ‘less is more,’” she says. “Well, when it comes to the holidays, more is more.” Principal and senior interior designer with Sublime Interior Design in Vancouver, Soroka likes to blend natural elements with “glam,” pairing natural pine or cedar boughs with shiny metallic beads and baubles.

Influenced by her European roots – her mother came to Canada from Georgia in the former USSR – Soroka enjoys decorating her tree with baby’s breath and tiny white lights to mimic starlight on a snowy evening. Indeed, one of the 11 trees on display at the Sutton Place Hotel’s seventh annual holiday fund-raising event, opening Nov. 29, has been trimmed by Soroka and her team.

Another Vancouver designer who will participate in the Sutton Place Hotel’s fundraising event is Victoria McKenney, owner of Enviable Designs. McKenney advises deciding on a colour palette and carrying it through all your rooms. “If you are using green cedar boughs, pick two more colours,” she says – red and green for traditionalists, or blue and green for a jazzier look. Limiting the colours “will keep your décor looking nice and clean, and it will still be very effective.”

For an unusual – and inexpensive – tree ornament, McKenney suggests dried hydrangea blooms, attached to branches with wire or ribbon. These flowers, in tints of blue, white and purple and rose, also make a wonderful centrepiece, flanked by candles and greenery. For an easy centrepiece, Soroka says, fill a glass or silver bowl with round tree ornaments, metallic or glass. The scent of a real pine or fir tree plays an important part in seasonal decoration. But if you simply don’t have room for a tree – or can’t bear the mess – Soroka recommends a small potted version, real or faux, with or without lights. Set it on a red cloth spread out on a bar cart, surrounded by sparkling wine and cocktail glasses, for a festive look that takes up little space.

At Thomas Hobbes’ eponymous gift shop on West Boulevard in Kerrisdale, the latest Christmas ornaments include miniature gnomes, two or three inches high, and felt mushrooms – all with a folksy, hand-crafted look. Hobbes also recommends tiny LED lights, about the size of a grain of rice, both battery-operated and plug-in, ideal for table centrepieces and wreaths. But for the truly trendsetting, “the hottest look this year is outer space,” he says. Ray guns and space ships made from old-fashioned blown glass are “really neat” and will lend your Christmas a retro, 1960s ambience.

Also new are flameless candles. “They have a tiny fan under the flame so they look really realistic,” says Hobbes. A built-in timer turns them off after five hours. “They are much safer than real candles.” Speaking of candles, don’t forget to stock up on pillars and tapers, as well as tea lights. Floating candles in a glass vase on the dining table will cast a charming glow over your holiday meals. And setting candles on a mirrored surface doubles not only their wattage but their magic.

Bejewelled Christmas ornaments from Pier 1 Imports will look lovely hanging on your tree or in a bowl as a centrepiece.

At Pier 1 Imports, the latest candles are beaded and bejewelled, and decorative accessories include whimsical snowmen, birds and penguins, says house stylist Aimee Beatty. Fur-covered pillows are new this year. Table linens also feature gorgeous beading and embroidery, in colour combinations of deep teal and lime, as well as metallics.

For those who love dazzle, etched hurricane lamps, mirrored vases and even bronzed florals are hot this season, Beatty says. For the table, traditional reds and greens are featured in table runners and embroidered place mats, and intricately etched glassware is bound to catch your guests’ eyes. Special Christmas china will brighten the dark winter days. l


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