When it comes to decorating for the holidays, I’ve always believed that more is more—if one can execute it tastefully. And each year, thanks to my longtime client and good friend Susan, I get to try my hand at putting this philosophy into practice. For the past several years, I've been collaborating with Susan on her holiday décor, decking the halls of her stunning 1920s Georgian in Greenwich, CT. Though ropes upon ropes of thick, freshly-cut garland are always a signature part of my design, I like like to try different variations—whether in color or style—every year. This season, Susan and I were inspired by persimmon, together with lustrous shades of copper, burnt umber, chestnut, and cinnamon found in throw pillows and Oriental rugs throughout the house. 28 wreaths, 5 archways, 2 columns, 2 fireplaces, 1 staircase, and a staggering 283 feet of garland later, Susan’s home is pure holiday magic! The elves have been hard at work, so pour on the brandied egg nog, everyone. These halls are about to be decked—again!
Since you never get a second chance to make a first impression, we always pay special attention to the entryway and foyer. There’s a trio of archways, together with a magnificent staircase, the real showstopper of the house. Here’s a look back at the front door (where we'll hang wreaths on both sides) and the main archway in the entrance—before it's decorated with 44 feet of garland and two decorative centerpieces!Though smaller than the other archways in this entry space, it makes a big statement when decorated with 18 feet of garland.
On the right side of the foyer is the archway leading to the living room, which, like the main entrance archway, will be covered on both sides by 44 feet of garland and two centerpieces.
Staircases, like fireplace mantles, are perfect places to add holiday touches. Beginning at the top of Susan’s staircase landing, we'll wrap 55 feet of garland along the entire length of the banister. Swags, placed evenly along the railing and secured with glittered faux poinsettias and double face satin ribbon, will add even more decorative drama.
Both the living room fireplace and the small archways that flank it on each side will be decorated with garland—almost 40 feet in all!
I love decorating for the holidays with beautiful, natural elements, so as always, I'm using fresh garland. This year, though, Jaithan had the brilliant idea to incorporate magnolia—mixed with juniper and Fraser fir—into the garland to pick up on the persimmon hues in the rugs and pillows. The day before we arrived, I had the garland delivered and kept outside to preserve the freshness—and its wonderful fragrance—as long as possible. Bundled up below is more than 280 feet of garland!
Here I am with Jordan (she of this IKEA magic makeover), lugging a 22 ft piece inside. Trust me—it’s heavier than it looks!
As they say, go big or go home: here, 55 feet of continuous garland, earmarked for the staircase. I love how the copper-colored underside of the magnolia complements the persimmon tones in Susan's house.Just like last year, it takes more than a few elves to deck these halls; among them, my mother Margie (it's a family affair!), together with our intern Meagan, twist-tying tiny, cinnamon-colored glass balls into bundles. Later, we’ll embellish the garland with them.
Meanwhile, Jaithan and our dear friend Ronnie (remember her fantastic arrangements from my friend Tina's wedding on the water?) complete the archway to the right of the fireplace. Notice how the leaves of the garland are pointing up and away from the fireplace. We made sure the direction of the garland leaves was consistent throughout the house. Though that may seem a minor detail, consistency with the garland makes a big difference when it comes to the cohesiveness of the overall décor.
Here, Jordan and I wrangle 55 feet of garland along the staircase banister—with the leaves pointing up, of course! When decorating with garland, remember to protect your woodwork from scuffs and marks at the point of attachment. I like to cover the banister with wide pieces of the clear plastic sheeting that typically wraps flowers, though newspaper or plastic bags from the grocery store would also work.
WIth the garland for the stairs in place, Jaithan and Mom work at different points to embellish it. While Jaithan tucks pearl-like flower pods into the garland to brighten it up here and there, Mom arranges persimmon-colored silk flowers and ribbon at the top of each swag.
Speaking of bundles, here I am bundled up against the cold to put the finishing touches on the 50 feet of garland wrapping two outside columns. In the background, you can see one of the 28 wreaths that we hang on the windows and doors!
Now that you’ve seen firsthand all the elves at work, I hope you’re as excited as we were to see the fruits of our annual labor of love. Be sure to check back tomorrow for all the pretty pictures of the finished house. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your own holiday decorating traditions—is there a certain décor that you turn to year after year?