Design expert and TV personality Amanda Forrest tells us how to spiff up our surroundings for the season. If she can do it—with nine kids and dog—well …
What’s your approach to seasonal décor?
AF: I like to create a winterscape theme as the basis for my holiday decorating. This allows me to add interest to my home décor once the fall accessories are put away, and also to carry that though until March. It is a great way to invest in basic winter props such as icy branches, artificial evergreen boughs and faux fur throws that will last from fall until spring.
When do you begin holiday decorating?
I host a Christmas party every year in early December so I generally have the Christmas decorations up by the end of November.
How do you start?
I like to start decorating by clearing away a few accessories to make room for the Christmas décor. The easiest way to do it is to store items in the empty Christmas boxes; this way my house won’t look too cluttered once the holiday décor moves in!
Do you do the whole house? Certain rooms? Are your style and colour scheme consistent?
I always seem to start with decorating my front porch. By December my outdoor plants have diminished so adding a festive wreath and garland to my door gives the entry a friendly facelift. From there the tree takes center stage: I have a real tree in my main living room that is a good eight feet tall to take advantage of the vaulted ceilings. I have the same ornaments I put on the tree every year. There is a classic gold, silver and white colour scheme, but then I add ribbon and bows in non-traditional colours like hot pink and turquoise to glam things up a bit. The best place to shop for ribbon is in the regular craft section. There’s no Christmas ribbon required, and it’s usually cheaper.
Do you have any guiding rules?
Because of the children I don’t stick to any strict rules. I try to be as relaxed as possible to create fun memories for the family. Having said that, I have been known to move a few ornaments around once the kids are in bed!
Is the way you decorate The Compound different from your last home? In other words, is how you decorate for the December holiday season influenced by your interior and exterior space?
My last house was not as big as this one. This means I have to be considerate of scale more so than design style at The Compound. What looked like a big tree at the old house is dwarfed by the scale of my current house.
Should we pay attention to that when we’re decorating?
Yes. I often feel that buying one good larger-scale piece is better than two less exciting pieces. Scale really plays a role in creating drama.
Like you, most of our readers have kids. What do you do with all the decorations and yuletide artworks that come home from craft-time at school?
Aha! Yes, the clothes-pin reindeer! We have lots of those. Last year I bought little silver tinsel trees from the dollar store for the twins so they can decorate their own rooms and place all their handmade decorations exactly the way they want. Little Ava is actually very particular.
Do you have any decorating traditions?
Yes, I love snow globes and I create personalized family ones with black and white photos of our family inside each year. We all love them.
Special items you and the kids treasure?
Our snow globes for sure but the children also love when I bring out classic holiday books, their stockings and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
Do the kids help decorate?
Yes, although I am not sure help is the word; it’s more like The Christmas Explosion, so I have to make sure I have lots of time and patience. The boys are taller then me though, and that’s perfect for reaching higher branches.
Today, retailers offer decorations and holiday decor items in every hue imaginable, from teal to pastel pink. Thoughts?
I love how personalized the holiday season has become. Families can take a traditional holiday, such as Christmas, and create their own version through colour and ornament themes. They can celebrate different nationalities and religious beliefs under one roof together in harmony. This means any colour scheme that works for your family is the perfect colour scheme!
Is there a way to keep things tasteful and festive and family-friendly?
Those descriptions mean something different to each family, but my tip to keep things feeling tasteful is throw in some black and white. Whether it’s a stripe, a polka dot or chevron, that colour combo seems to give a visual calmness to a more visually stimulating time of year. Vintage pieces like silver trays and handmade quilts are classic and beautiful. These additions can offset some of the more kitschy Christmas décor.
*Yes, I have many skull Christmas ornaments that have been given to me; I cherish them all!