Three Twin Cities design pros offer a peek inside their own homes and share their tips for high-impact seasonal decor.
Holiday style: “Bubbly, light and happy,” said Peck. “There’s a little retro feel.” Holiday decorations are more visually appealing when they flow with the existing decor of your rooms, said Peck, who chose a color palette of mainly silver, gold with ivory and black accents for her 1920s bungalow. “I already had gray, yellow and white for the rest of the year, so silver and gold work well with that.”
Tree jewelry: Peck hung faux and authentic vintage brooches throughout her holiday tree, inspired by the cherished costume jewelry passed down to her from her grandmother. She wired together several brooches for more sparkle and sewed them onto ribbon. Other ornaments resemble dangling earrings. “Everyone has Christmas brooches they never wear,” she said. “Use them to dress up your tree.”
Tie a cream ribbon around the tree. “A cream ribbon with silver and gold makes the tree feel lighter, which works better in smaller spaces,” she said. The only heavy element is oversized black balls, which add depth and drama.
Mixed-metal mantel: Peck designed an asymmetrical arrangement of apothecary jars filled with silver, gold and pewter-hued balls of different textures and finishes illuminated by tiny “fairy lights.” She trimmed the mantel with shiny tinsel garland and ornaments wrapped in cream ribbon. “Common elements tie the tree and mantel together,” she said. To create layers, she advised first placing the heavier elements, such as the jars and tinsel garland, and building around them.
Ornaments take center stage: “Highlight special memory ornaments inside clear glass cloches,” said Peck, who arranges them atop her heirloom piano. “Mirrors at the base give them sparkle.”
Festive flourishes: Peck attaches a dressy ornament with a pin to the back of each upholstered dining-room chair, tosses sparkly pillows on living room chairs and replaces framed family photos with holiday-themed versions. Battery-operated twinkle lights illuminate a glass candy bowl that holds white and silver balls. “I don’t like a room to be overly cloying,” she said. “I like it to be festive, but I keep it simple so it doesn’t feel like a department store.”
Ever-changing tree: Peck’s Christmas tree is a thoughtful composition of color, texture, shape and style. “I’m a designer, but I’m also a mom,” she said. “My children will get to hang their ornaments on the tree when it gets closer to Christmas.”
Designer: Rob Edman, Edman Hill Interior Design, Minneapolis, www.edmanhill.com.
Holiday style: Edman’s childhood roots in small-town northern Minnesota influence his decor in his 1930s Tudor-style bungalow in Minneapolis. “I’ve always liked woodsy, organic things,” he said, “but with a little modern edge.” Edman also combines vintage collectibles with cherished decorations passed down from his grandmother, including a whimsical wooden Scandinavian elf peering from a window.
Bird lovers’ tree: Edman filled his Douglas fir tabletop tree with silver, white and nature-themed ornaments accented with a touch of red in the wood berry garland. He mixed a birdseed concoction (for the recipe, go to http://bit.ly/1bdYbG1) and pressed it into holiday cookie cutters to make birdseed ornaments, which he hung from the tree with garden twine. “After Christmas, I’ll set the tree in the back yard and the birds can eat them,” he said. His version of a tree skirt is an old menswear-patterned blanket wrapped around the base. A West Elm twig ornament with a “modern, organic shape” tops the tree. “With a real tree, you don’t have to hang as many ornaments,” said Edman. “They’re pretty just the way they are.”
Grandmother’s houses: Edman displayed his collection of miniature red wooden houses from his grandmother on a kitchen windowsill. “I mostly like to decorate with things that have some meaning,” he said. “But a little bit of retail doesn’t hurt.”
Ghosts of Christmas past: Edman scours estate and garage sales for holiday decor that “lots of people think is trash but adds vintage interest,” he said. His finds include 1940s plastic tiny reindeer, metal cookie cutters, a wooden “Merry Christmas” sign and old glass ornaments placed inside pedestal bowls for pops of color.
Stocking stuffers: You won’t find Edman’s holiday stockings in a Pottery Barn catalog. He hangs antique metal sock dryers, which he’s amassed over the years, above the fireplace. “I like them for their simplicity,” he said. “That’s how you dried your socks before gas dryers.”
Repeat a theme. Edman placed pieces from his white pottery collection across his mantel and on an antique sideboard surrounded by pine boughs. On the mantel, he tucked pheasant feathers inside pots for height. Near a window, he lined pots with foil and planted paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs.
Simple citrus centerpiece: For the table, Edman filled an earthy wooden bowl with lemons, limes and oranges and tucked in fresh greens. For a more traditional look, he suggested a glass pedestal bowl or soup tureen. For the final flourish, he set a clear acrylic antler next to the bowl. “It’s a modern take on a rustic shape,” he said.
Holiday style: “Eclectic. A little traditional, with a little quirkiness, which is kind of like me,” Connell said. “I like glitter and jewelry and basic black.”
Double decorating: Connell decorates on two fronts in her Minneapolis home, with two distinct strategies. On the main floor, the look is more formal and traditional, with black accents to play off the animal prints in her decor, plus lots of mirror ornaments to reflect light.
Downstairs, it’s all about the family. Connell created a wall of nine personalized wreaths: one for each of her two preschool children, her husband, herself and one for each of the four grandparents, plus a center wreath framing a family photo. “It’s a good option if you’re in a condo and don’t have room for a tree,” she said. Because she does have room, she also created a Minnesota Wild-themed Christmas tree, decorated with hockey skates, sticks and topped with a helmet. (Connell’s husband, Pat, and son, Sam, 4, both play the game.) “It’s convenient that the Wild colors are red and green,” Connell said. She fashioned a tree skirt out of jerseys, and Pat added a tinfoil-wrapped “Stanley Cup.” The Wild tree was a big hit with Sam. “He told me he was very proud of me,” Connell said.
Themed trees are a fun way to celebrate a child’s favorite thing, whether it’s a ballet tree for a tiny dancer or a superhero tree for a fervent fan, she said. “As any mom or dad knows, when your kid loves something, you have enough stuff to do a tree.”
Decor tip: Connell gift-wraps boxes to complement her decor, wrapping the lids separately. The boxes remain empty until Christmas Eve, which helps her kids resist the temptation to poke curious little fingers into packages, she said. “When Santa comes, we fill them,” she said. And the boxes can be re-used year after year.
Go-to elements: For her holiday table, Connell dresses up her everyday white dishes with festive linens and vintage glassware, and spreads fresh cedar greenery. “It’s easy and inexpensive,” she said. Candles are a must. “I love them — the smell, the light. I don’t have a fireplace, so they’re a good way to give a fireplace-y warm feeling inside.” She favors groupings of votives in mercury glass because the light is soft and flattering.
Worth the effort: Even though she spends her days doing design for other people, Connell enjoys pulling out all the stops at home for the holidays. “I still love it,” she said. “I see design as something fun, that makes a house comfortable and yours. And holiday is the one time we can go over the top.”