How Designers Decorate for the Holidays
10 ideas for added holiday flavor
Photography by Emily Minton Redfield
We chose Conni Newsome and Ashley Larson Eitemiller of C+A Interiors to decorate this story for multiple reasons: their elegant, fun design sense, their attention to detail, their penchant for glamour—and well, truth be told, they love putting their all into a party.
1. A DASH OF WHIMSY
“We’re in Colorado, so why be traditional?” Ashley says of the adorned black bear over the fireplace. “It’s a quirky take on a classic Colorado deer or elk head. And what bear doesn’t look good in basic black with pearls?”
2. LET THERE BE CANDLELIGHT
“Candlelight is the key to creating an unforgettable, beautiful holiday vibe,” says Conni. “The more, the better—and don’t just relegate candles to the nighttime; they work just as beautifully during the day, creating a sense of warmth.”
3. THEME, THEME, THEME … REPEAT
The designers admit they are junkies for tearing out magazine photos, surfing Instagram and scouring design books to create idea boards. “You need to have a theme for your holiday decorating,” says Ashley. “But first, consider the overall style of the space. For example, in this midcentury modern Littleton ranch house, the natural and wheat undertones aren’t suited to traditional Christmas red. Pearly white, salmon and gold just feel right. It’s a little bit Mad Men-meets-madcap with some glam thrown in for good measure. Most importantly, have fun with it. Christmas is about tradition, but don’t forget the cheer along the way.”
4. NAKED GREENS
“Less is more when it comes to a traditional tree,” says Ashley. “No need to decorate it within an inch of its life. We like to pick a Charlie Brown tree and flock it with white to give it a nice muted tone.”
5. ORNAMENTAL GATHERING
“It’s really fun to take something traditional and use it in a nontraditional way,” says Conni. “There was no chandelier to form a centerpiece, so we made one by stringing ornaments with ribbon and hanging from above. It adds sophisticated chic without being overly Christmasy.”
6. SEASONAL DRESS
“We love having our clients add and subtract items based on the season,” says Conni. "These chairs have multiple slipcovers, and the pearly white is perfect for the holidays. Ditto for the white poinsettias and orchids."
7. BUY WELL, ENHANCE FRUGALLY
“When you have a foundation of quality pieces, it’s easy to add layers and flowers based on the season,” says Conni. “And you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg; instead just blend high and low. Chic seasonal touches from Target look great next to high-end pieces.” To wit: This room’s Thayer Coggin midcentury chair and Tuell and Reynolds coffee table from Town, Ben Strawn painting from Walker Fine Art, and vintage Moroccan rug from Matt Camron are so beautiful, all the team needed was to add some color (coral pillow, matching orchids, ornamental pears) and the client’s vintage tree decoration. The antique bunny ashtray holding an ornament provides spunk, while the Nobilis fur throw adds a layer of softness (who wouldn’t want to lie down under that with a libation in hand?).
8. A WELCOMING ENTRANCE
The midcentury bookcase in the foyer lends classic elegance to furry, tactile wreaths from Target. Combined with a help-yourself bar, it has the feeling of a warm, white Christmas without veering too far into holiday cliché. Conni and Ashley talk a lot about pacing a party, beginning with the music. This scene? Some low-volume Sinatra, Crosby and Fitzgerald.
9. DRINKS TO MATCH
“The drink color needs to blend with your theme, so the coral/salmon palette of a rosé is perfect here,” says Ashley.
10. DECORATE FOR THE HOME, NOT THE SEASON
There’s no rule saying you have to decorate with the traditional red and green. Consider the style of your home and feel free to buck tradition. “The holiday fairies will not get their feelings hurt if some things are not used every year,” says Conni.