Home & Garden

Seasonal Styling

By Janet Armstrong,
Certified Interior Designer, CAPS

Create a space you will love to live in

It’s that exciting, festive time of year when we are spending time with family and friends, shopping for that perfect gift, cooking and baking up a storm, and my absolute fav—decorating our homes for the upcoming festivities. Decorating any area of your home for the holiday season can be at once exciting and terrifying. But as with many things, decorating is a process and a beautiful festive look can be achieved by following a few simple steps.

These are the steps I follow to styling a display and they can be applied whether you are styling a mantel, a coffee table, or your dining table.

1. Clear the decks
Start by ‘clearing the decks’ and cleaning the area (while dust bunnies are cute, they have no place indecor). This will enable you to see the space anew and allow you to consider the space you are working with and what might fit. You may want to change it up from last year or add some new festive items you want to highlight. Whatever the case, consider the size of the area and the overall look you are trying to achieve, as well as who will use the room and how often.

2. Select display items
Next, think about what seasonal and festive treasures and items you have that will work together and create a fresh look in the space or best relate to the way in which a space will be used and by whom. For example, a family room may be used by visiting children so you may want to include more whimsy and fantasy here. Pull out all of your seasonal decor items and examine the inventory. Are there pieces that you want to pass along? Are there pieces that have reached the end of their life? Are there gaps that need to be filled with something new? Once you have made the decision regarding what you are keeping and using, or purchasing to fill in gaps, it’s time to get started!

3. Balance
A visually appealing display is always well balanced and includes small, medium, and large items. Balance is also achieved by using the ‘rule of odds.’ Typically, this is one, three, or five, but can be seven or nine, depending upon how large the item is, or how expansive the space is that you are decorating. Begin by placing the larger items in your vignette first, as they will anchor your display. Follow this by incorporating medium-sized items and finally, fill out the display by including smaller items.

4. Negative space
Attractive displays are ones that include negative space, allowing for a favoured item to be highlighted. Too often we crowd our displays which results in a busy, chaotic look and making it difficult to see and appreciate the items we have included. Remember that ‘less is more!’ The result will be beautiful and visually-appealing displays.

5. Texture
Texture is a critical element in design and decor. Without it, vignettes look flat, one-dimensional, and dull. Layers of texture create movement and bring interest and vitality to the display. When incorporating texture, think in terms of how much light will be reflected—matt finishes will reflect less light than shiny finishes. Have visual and tactile textures been included? Materials and patterns provide visual and tactile variations which create movement and encourage the eye to wander over the display. Are there variations in scale among the items used in your vignette? The inclusion of items of varying heights and sizes is visually pleasing and provides balance.

Following these tips will make your seasonal decorating less challenging and frightening and save you time, which is precious at this time of year. Of course, the most important part of creating or styling a display is to have fun! Style, re-style, experiment, and play with the display.

Keep rearranging your items until you have a look you love and is gorgeous in the space. Cheers!

Janet Armstrong (simplyswankdecor.ca) is a graduate of the Interior Design Institute of Canada, CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) and Chair of the Decorators and Designers Association of Canada (DDA Canada).