Holiday table set up with candles

‘Tis the season for decking those halls—and to help you out, we asked two interior designers how they spruce up their homes for the holidays and where they find inspiration so you can follow their stylish leads. (Spoiler alert—it never hurts to expand beyond the regular repertoire of red and green.)

Here’s how Sybill Johnson, owner of Blank Canvas Design Group, and Kim O’Toole, of Clive Daniel Home, deck their halls with holiday cheer.

Use Any Color Combo You Want

Blue ornaments on a christmas tree

“I change up my colors every year,” says Johnson. “For instance, I used blue this year, and it looks great alongside white and silver.”

Blue can be coastal, but the coolness of it translates well to winter,” says O’Toole.

For those who love red, O’Toole suggests replacing it with rose gold, for a softer effect that still emits warmth. 

Another pro tip: spread the color throughout the home. “It can be candles, ornaments or throw pillows; anything you can switch out easily in every room,” O’Toole says.

Johnson also likes to incorporate metallic colors by using silver picture frames.

Dress the Table 

A christmas table top setup

“Bring the color to the table and pair with metallics,” Johnson says. “I like to use glass craft bowls and fill them with blue and silver crystal balls, moss and greenery, fake snow and fairy lights for a little nature and a little glitz.”

O’Toole suggests a beautiful runner or an heirloom tablecloth. “Cloth napkins are also a warm touch,” she says. She also encourages using varying heights of candles on the table. “Hanging ornaments from a chandelier is a festive touch,” she adds. “It’s all about fun and celebrating.” 

Ornaments hanging from a chandelier

Embrace the Scents of the Season

Clove studded oranges.

“Take oranges and stud them with cloves and place them in glass bowls around the home for a natural, aromatic touch,” O’Toole says. “It’s also a fun craft to do with kids. You can do lemons too. Yellow is more neutral, and matches well with grays, burgundy and reds.”

And for the tree? “Try hanging something unexpected, like a bunch of fragrant cinnamon sticks tied with string or dried orange slices,” she says.

“At the Christmas tree lot, they trim off the bottoms of the trees, which is where the main tree scent comes from, so I bring a Ziplock and put the disks in there,” Johnson says. “I float them in glass water bowls and they look great with cranberries and greenery as well.”

“Mulling spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla over the stovetop is also comforting,” says O’Toole.

Welcome Them Home With a Wreath

A christmas wreath with dried orange slices.

“Tree lots cut branches off when they trim trees, and they’re free and easy to incorporate with fake garlands to create a wreath,” Johnson says.

Remember those sliced dried oranges? O’Toole suggest adding some to the wreath for a touch of Florida. “Small seashells, starfish or red and white hibiscus are also great ways to marry the tropics and the holidays,” she says.

No Banister or Mantle? No Problem

christmas stockings hang from a ladder and drawer dresser knobs.

“You can put stockings anywhere,” says O’Toole. “For a family fun craft, get a small piece of plywood, paint it, add hooks, and hang it on the wall. You can also use a windowsill or latch, or hang them from chair rails or a bookshelf.”

“At home, we had a drop zone area with hooks where I used to hang them,” Johnson says. 

Make It Personal

Family photos used as decorations in a christmas tree.

“Bring out those homemade ornaments kids in the family made over the years just for you. It’s important to see them,” O’Toole says. “They’re perfect even when they’re not—it’s a tradition.” 

In addition to breaking out cherished family photos, at Johnson’s home, each person gets a 5 lb. bag of flour and, after making cookies, they get in a flour fight outside the front of the home. “It looks like it snowed, and we get pictures with flour on our noses,” she says. “It’s something I do with my kids to this day.”  


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