Photographs by Jane Beiles
Decorating the house for the holidays can feel daunting for some, but the process doesn’t have to be. Simplifying and focusing on one color scheme, or just choosing a few special accents, are just a few of the ways you can make a festive impact with minimal stress. If you’re looking for some inspiration, take these tips from three top designers in our towns.
STIRLING MILLS DESIGN
Legge’s design style is simple yet stunning, and her philosophy carries over into seasonal decor. “I like to put holiday decorations alongside things I already have in my house so they look like they belong,” she says. The designer’s living room is dressed in metallic tones throughout the year, so she opts for more gold accents come December to amp up glamour. In contrast, Legge’s kitchen is gray and not as bright, so she brings in organic elements like root balls, feathers and other natural pieces that complement this darker space. “Holiday decor should be festive, but blend—you don’t want to get sick of it after two weeks,” she says. Other stylish ideas: Put lots of unscented white votives or large three-wick candles around the house, and make sure every room has a special decorative accent, such as a pretty wreath or a stack of shimmering quartz logs. If you don’t know where to put the kids’ homemade ornaments, give them their own tree. “My children feel like they play a part in making our house festive,” she says.
Metallic accents Sparkling detail
Michelle Morgan Harrison
MORGAN HARRISON HOME
Instead of a traditional red and green palette, this designer mixes pastels with fresh foliage to make her New Canaan digs merry. “Pale blues and lavenders are a great choice around the holidays because they’re elegant,” she says. She has a three-tier plan for holiday decorating. Begin with a fresh evergreen tree, as the piney scent adds another dimension to decor; if you can, put trees in different rooms of the house. Wreaths are the second layer. Hang them on windows with Berwick Offray’s satin ribbon; silver is her favorite. Use the same ribbon to float silver balls or feather wreaths in each room. Her final touch: On the mantel and coffee table, mix cut greenery with a cluster of glass vases, metallic reindeer or shiny silver balls.
KAREN BOW INTERIORS
When the designer renovated her Darien home eight years ago, she knocked out a wall between her dining and living rooms so the family could enjoy a full view of the fourteen-foot evergreen they bring in each year from Vermont. “We love the tree so much we designed the whole house around it,” she says. Bow offers this tree-trimming advice: “Never wrap the lights. It’s inefficient,” she says. Instead, weave them in and out, in box-like sections, starting inside the tree and making your way to the outer branches. When you think you’re done, turn the lights on and squint to see where the holes are. “Fill in with more lights, and don’t be conservative,” she says. As for managing her collection of ornaments, she hangs them in groupings by subject. “I’m sentimental and have to be able to see them all.”