Decorating your home for the holidays by vivi07

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									To the Hilt
Decorating your home for the holidays
BY AMANDA N. WEGNER

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In December, peering through frostcovered windows from afar is an exercise in curiosity and creativity.
It’s not the movements of the people inside, but the distilled brightness of lights on a holiday tree, the warmth of a fire burning in a hearth bedecked with fresh pine swags and fuzzy stockings, and the subtle shine of silver and gold decorations catching an occasional flicker of candlelight that attracts our eyes. When it comes to holiday decorating, some love it, dragging boxes of holiday accessories from basements and attics the day after Thanksgiving (or before) to deck their halls. Others hate it and find it a chore. Regardless of your decorating passion, here are some hints from holiday decorating professionals to turn your home into a yuletide wonder even Saint Nick would envy.

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I N T H E C A P I TA L R E G I O N • Holiday 2006

PHOTO BY DAN ZENKER, SUTTER PHOTOGRAPHERS

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This wreath uses rich tones of deep red, gold and sienna with a sprinkling of green.

Trendy traditions
Roger Chinook, a local design consultant, loves Christmas. In fact, he’s already decorating the homes of clients who, like him, adore the holidays. “The glow of the season, being with friends and family, the ornate details, I love it all,” says Chinook. With 25 years of interior and exterior decorating experience, Chinook knows a thing or two (or twenty) about holiday decorating. He shops year-round for yuletide and keeps tabs on what’s supposed to be hot — and what’s not — each holiday season. This holiday season, notes Chinooks, Santa Clauses are a hot commodity. Whether you have an extensive collection or are looking for a few new pieces to spice up your holiday décor, pick up a St. Nick. “Year to year the favorites change,” says Chinook, “but this year, Santas will be a real bold feature. Santas, santas, santas.” With all that’s happening in the world, says Chinook, this holiday season’s color palette is shifting back to traditional hues, with rich, deep tones of red and green. The purity of white — and its similar hues — also are dominating the season’s décor options. While glittery décor still has a place among those who want to give their holiday a contemporary punch — include those opting for the retro aluminum tinsel trees continued on page 28

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TREE BY ANNETTE STEBBINS/PHOTO BY HARPER FRITSCH STUDIOS

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To the Hilt

that have found a niche in the holidaydécor market — it’s about trendy tradition this year. “It’s really about heartwarming soul colors this season,” says Chinook. “The sorts of colors that remind you of your childhood at Grandma’s and old holiday movies, but with a tinge of the present.” Another Christmas fanatic, Annette Stebbins, owner of Beaucoup Ideas, also skews toward the “trendy traditional” in her holiday décor. For instance, she might place a fallen bird’s nest, newly sprayed in glitter, in her holiday tree to symbolize life and new beginnings, just as her father did years ago. Or, she might give a new meaning to the old Ukrainian spider tradition (which symbolizes good luck) by weaving a shimmering web in a gap in a tree’s branches. “When it comes to decorating for the holidays, it’s not about having a complete collection of ornaments or village pieces,” she says. “It’s about being creative and thinking about traditions and those items you remember from your childhood and putting a creative spin on them for your own home.”

Bright ideas
Stebbins, who decorates up to 25 trees each holiday season and received top honors for her Hilldale Mall Holiday Tree Walk entry for the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation last year, offers these fun and unique ideas for punching up your holiday décor. ■ Collect leaves year-round, spray them with polymer finish (available at craft stores) and tie a ribbon around the stem for an instant organic ornament. ■ Stick artificial flowers deep into the boughs of the tree to give it depth and pockets of color. ■ Don’t anguish over the perfect tree skirt. Instead, wrap the bottom of the tree with an antique quilt, colorful bedspread or glittery fabric remnants. (Don’t fret over a gravy-stained tablecloth either; use the same ideas for decorating the holiday table.) Or stack holiday-themed pillows underneath to give the tree a fuller look before Santa comes to empty his pack. ■ Marshmallows, when threaded with ribbon and hung from a tree, look like snowflakes.

Simplicity is the key to the understated elegance of this white tree decorated in shades of red. This is one of numerous trees that adorn this home each Christmas.
PHOTO BY DAN ZENKER, SUTTER PHOTOGRAPHERS

The walk-out family room in this condominium is dedicated to a sprawling multi-tiered Christmas village complete with train, animatronic ice skating rink and teddy bear training school.

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I N T H E C A P I TA L R E G I O N • Holiday 2006

■ The perfect holiday-table centerpiece is as close as your backyard and refrigerator. Arrange pine boughs (sprayed gold, if you prefer) and loose branches in the center of table; complement this arrangement with golden apples, artichokes, colored cauliflower or whatever other fruits and vegetables may be available in the crisper. ■ Create vignettes in larger tree gaps; for instance, make it a special place for your daughter’s dolls or son’s baseball card collection. Or put a display of miniature family portraits. ■ Don’t think the living room or great room is the only place suitable for a holiday tree. Place smaller trees throughout the home and give each one its own theme. In the kitchen, for instance, hang not-often-used utensils like pate knives and melon ballers from the boughs with decorative ribbon. In the at-home office, encircle the tree in paperclip chains, make Post-It note fans and hang No. 2 pencils like icicles for an office-ready look. Place a tree in a child’s room and give them free reign to decorate — with the caveat that all decorations are made by hand — which feeds their creative spirit and keeps them away from the computer (or out of trouble, whatever the case may be.)

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Giving is good
In time, even a well-planned Dickens village can fall victim to urban sprawl. Before annexing mantel space, call upon the spirit of the season and consider purging your collection. “Sometimes people, especially when they’ve amassed a huge holiday collection, get sensory overload,” says Chinook. “It’s good to cleanse your collection of what you don’t need or want anymore each year.” If this is the case, donate your holiday accessories to charity or give them to another friend or relative who recently moved out on their own and would appreciate a free jumpstart to their own holiday collection. Even if you don’t plan on paring down your yuletide accessories, take the time to purge your light collection each year. Light strands that are frayed, have exposed wires or broken bulbs or otherwise don’t work should be thrown out — there’s no sense in hanging on to them year after year. With holiday decorating it’s also good to give to yourself, namely time. continued on page 30

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To the Hilt

Chinook suggests taking time before and after the holiday season each year to reflect on what you liked about your holiday décor and what could be improved. Professional organizers also suggest taking photos of your décor — especially those vignettes and designs you liked best — before putting it away so you don’t struggle to recreate those same scenes next year. Stebbins also suggests keeping a holiday journal throughout the season to record unique ideas and funny stories each year. “No one makes it through the holidays without some great story to tell,” says Stebbins.

Remember the true meaning

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With decorating, baking, wrapping, shopping and more on your holiday to-do list, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and rush of the holidays. But if there’s one thing that will help remind you and your family of what the season is about, it’s being surrounded in the warm familiarity of tree lights, years-old stockings and the fresh scent of pine boughs and swags. “Just have fun with it,” suggests Chinook. “Make it a day when the family can be together. The holidays are such a magical time. It doesn’t matter if you have the biggest tree on the block or the most elaborate design. Instead, what matters is bringing in the season together and finding its true meaning. The décor is just there to help.” ■
TREE BY ANNETTE STEBBINS/PHOTO BY HARPER FRITSCH STUDIOS

This tree is richly and densely decorated with a variety traditional ornaments and festooned with printed satin ribbons and sparkling garlands.

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I N T H E C A P I TA L R E G I O N • Holiday 2006


								
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