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Designer Bridget Connell of Haute Flower Boutique did the holiday decorating at her grandmother Ginny Romens' townhouse using clean, contemporary elements and fresh colors to complement the interior.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Bridget Connell held her 6-month-old daughter, Lauren, standing next to her grandmother, Ginny Romens, and Lynn Goodwin, who is Bridget's mother.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Dreaming of a mod Christmas

  • Article by: KIM PALMER
  • Star Tribune
  • December 11, 2012 - 3:40 PM

Ginny Romens' personal style is thoroughly modern. So when holiday season comes around, she wants her tree and other decorations to be as sleek and contemporary as her townhouse.

"Clean and airy, with a pop of color once in a while," she said, describing her taste.

Romens, a professional interior designer (she runs Romens at the Find with her daughter Lynn Goodwin), could create that look herself. But for the past two years, she's delegated her seasonal decorating to her granddaughter (Goodwin's daughter) Bridget Connell, a designer with Haute Flower Boutique.

"I would have to research [holiday] suppliers," Romens said, while Bridget is already well-versed.

With more homeowners opting for streamlined, modern style year-round, a growing number also are seeking that look for their seasonal decor, opting for clean lines and unexpected palettes rather than traditional holiday colors and motifs.

"Holidays always have an element of tradition," Connell said. "But this year, we have a lot more modern clients."

For those modern-minded folks, old-fashioned Santas and reindeer in holly-jolly hues just won't do. Connell turns instead to furs, metallics and layers to add holiday cheer. "It's all about texture," she said.

Even people who prefer traditional holiday decor are "having a little more fun with Christmas," Connell said, experimenting with inverted trees and decor that wraps around corners, for example.

Bling up the palette

To give her grandmother's Hopkins townhouse a festive seasonal look, Connell stayed with its year-round color palette -- white, silver and taupe with lime and turquoise accents -- and then "blinged it up," using glass, mirrors, glittered accent pieces and even Swarovski crystal-encrusted table decor.

"Generally, holiday is a lot of greens, golds, reds and copper," Connell said. But those hues weren't going to work in Romens' neutral tone-on-tone interior. "She had designed it with so much insight, but not much color," Connell said. "That was the hardest part, to find contemporary, unusual holiday things."

Connell used many items Romens already had on hand, then added holiday touches. Tall, slim glass vases that Romens usually displays in her bathroom, for example, are now in the main living area, filled with white silk orchids and silvery foliage.

Romens' glass candelabra also got the festive treatment with a big glittery ornament perched atop each arm, where candles would normally go, while a silver bowl that Romens usually displays on its own is now filled with sparkling holiday trinkets.

"It's all about repurposing," Connell said.

Connell practices what she preaches in her own home; she loves cheetah and other animal prints, for example, so she incorporates them into her holiday decor, along with gold and black accents and plenty of "bling."

That doesn't mean Connell advocates banishing family heirlooms to storage boxes. In her own home, she trims an "upstairs tree with childhood ornaments," while displaying a more glamorous, sophisticated tree downstairs.

"Keep the meaningful family stuff in a cozy den and the statement pieces up front where your guests can see them," she said.

Here are some more tips on creating a polished, updated holiday look:

Raw material: If you have fabric left over from making pillows or upholstered pieces, use it to make holiday decorations, such as a custom tree skirt, holiday stockings to hang at your hearth or ribbons to trim a wreath or tree, Connell suggested. "Ribbon is that finishing touch."

A trimmer tree: Your Christmas tree doesn't have to be a big blowsy evergreen draped in a heavy skirt. For a more minimalist look, place a simple wooden or metal tree or some white-painted branches in an attractive container. "A full tree with a skirt is a very traditional look," said Connell's business/design partner, Marsha Hunt. "Elevating the tree above the floor level allows a slimmer profile."

Pretty packages: Instead of real presents, surround your holiday tree with decorative mock gifts, in boxes of different sizes and shapes, wrapped with paper and ribbon that complement your interior decor. "With young children, you don't want real wrapped gifts 'til Santa comes -- they'll just poke them open," said Connell. You can even wrap the lids of your mock gifts so they can be removed and the boxes used to store little pre-holiday gifts -- "like an Advent calendar, leading up to Christmas."

Color-coordinate: If you don't want to buy all new holiday accessories, but want a more sophisticated look, Connell suggests focusing your purchases on big, solid-color ornaments that coordinate with your room's existing color scheme. Then, intersperse those ornaments with smaller ornaments you already have. "It's inexpensive, and a great way to anchor and build on your decor," she said.

Tablescaping: To update your holiday table at minimal cost, look for inexpensive stemware and chargers at discount retailers such as Home Goods, Target or Pier 1. Even old dishes and linens will take on a fresh new look when accented by stylish new shapes and colors.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784

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