Deck the Halls

Wreaths and garlands and trees, oh my! Turning a house into a welcoming holiday home is a task many of us relish. But keeping festive décor feeling new, without buying new, can be a challenge.

We asked area professionals to tell us how they decorate their own homes and let us in on their secrets to holiday style. Their advice proves there’s no wrong way to trim your tree, just keep it fresh and fun with a touch of sparkle.

“My personal approach to holiday decorating is simple, natural and classic. I try to always go for quality and add in pieces every year so it stays fresh.”

“I love to decorate the foyer and the family room; that’s where you greet and gather with your friends. The dining room is a great spot too. Many people don’t use that space on a regular basis, so that’s your one time to let that room shine.”

“I’m seeing more of a trend to adjust the traditional holiday red and green to fit with the color scheme of your own interior spaces. You can do a lot even without color. Get some greenery and add sparkle. If all else fails use whites and creams, and then you can carry the look into January.”

“Fill picture frames with photos of past Christmases with your kids. Just keep the photos in the back of the frames year round for an easy flip.”

Vicky Serany
Southern Studio Interior Design
225 North Salem St.,
Suite 122, Apex
(919) 362-5143



“Don’t go out and buy all new decorations, just use your classic pieces in a new location to make them different.”

“Holiday decorating should be simple, elegant and memorable. I love using childhood ornaments and decorations to bring back great memories.”

“Ribbons are always something that can be easily changed out to give a fresh update.”

Martha Brown
Southern Studio Interior Design
225 North Salem St.,
Suite 122, Apex
(919) 362-5143




“I always love a new hanging for my door. I choose a new seasonal flower to keep on hand each year for mixing in with my candles, so it feels new — lilies, silver lamb’s ear or some dark berries.”

“Keeping in mind the color palette and overall style of the existing space can help keep your space harmonious; that said, homemade arts and crafts projects by the kids and nostalgic decorations will always ‘go!’”

“Since my home has a softer palette of color, we gravitate toward winter whites and sparkly metallics. This also allows ‘winter decorations’ to be more about the glimmer of warmth and sparkle of special occasions, rather than a thematic decorating tied to one particular holiday.”

“By far, my children’s handmade masterpieces will always be the centerpiece of our holiday motif.”

Heather Garrett
Heather Garrett Interior Design
524 South Duke St., Durham
(919) 684-4900



“I really like to get my decorating done in November. December seems to fly with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. By decorating early, I am able to enjoy the decorating for a whole month, and it really gets me into the holiday spirit!”

“I switch things up every year. Last year I added in natural elements that brought a rustic feel. I even put pine cones in branches of my tree for a wintry touch.”

“No matter which way you style your home … be consistent. Repeating colors and elements will drive your holiday theme and make the space cohesive.”

McKay recommends creative ways to get festive on a budget:

Create a 2-dimensional tree with painters tape on the wall if space is limited. Pom pom garland and paper snowflakes make great ornaments! (above right)

Take large gift tags and glue old family photos on the tags. Then string the tags with either yarn or wire and hang them on the wall. Family and friends will love looking at Christmases past and you’ll love revisiting those memories too!

Use free printable holiday quotes from Pinterest or online searches and put them in existing frames for instant holiday art.

Pick a specific wrapping paper as inspiration for your color scheme for the season.

Switch out throw pillows for an easy way to change up your living room — the perfect place to bring together your holiday color scheme for maximum impact.

Garland changes the look and feel of a space and is an easy way to bring in the holiday spirit.

If you want a glitzy feel, buy bags of tinsel and hang long strands from the ceiling. Can be recycled perfectly for that New Year’s Eve party!

Lauren McKay
Design Lines, Ltd
1611 Jones Franklin Road, Suite 101
(919) 852-0570



“I am sentimental and nostalgic, and that shows in my decorations. I find things that remind me of something from my childhood, whether it is a set of vintage ornaments that remind me of my grandmother or an old runner sled my sisters and I used growing up.”

“I love using natural elements to decorate my home during the holidays. Every year my family receives a pine wreath from my aunt and uncle in Maine. … I am also a sucker for a natural tree in the home.”

“I love drawing inspiration from my classic New England roots and combining it with sophisticated Southern charm. In my Christmas decor, you are just as likely to find berries, evergreens and plaid ribbon combined with mercury glass ornaments and a bow for the tree topper.”

“It is important when decorating for the holidays to know when to edit. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to use it. I like to save some things for the next year … this will keep things from feeling stale.”

Rebecca Reed
Grace Interiors and Design Co.
(919) 418-0998




“I am all about making holiday decorating fun and different. I am not traditional or trendy; I just like to come up with unusual things to decorate with and use interesting colors.”

“I think this is the one time of year you can make your home different from everyday. You may want to include a color that is prominent in your existing décor, but really, you don’t have to!”

“Every year I try to do a new wreath. I did double hung boxwood wreaths with hot pink silk ribbons. I love a square wreath and I LOVE ribbon, especially finding really different stuff each year.”

“I never use red and green, but I love them — very classic.”

Susan Tollefsen
Susan Tollefsen Interiors
2025 Progress Court, Raleigh
(919) 272-7881



“I love all the Christmas traditions and decorations I grew up with at home — fresh greenery, beautiful mantels and centerpieces my mom would spend hours on. I continue the tradition in my own home, selecting only the freshest garlands, berries, wreaths and trees.  For me it is about the sights, and smells, of Christmas!”

“I love trimming a mantel! It’s always in front of a wood burning fire where I find myself spending time with family and friends over the holidays.”

“I use family tradition as a base for holiday décor, but with unexpected touches that make the overall look very ‘me.’ I like throwing in graphic patterns, using a square wreath instead of traditional round, choosing shades of green and red that are not your true Christmas colors, and adding dashes of silver and crystal for sparkle.”

A square wreath made of fresh greenery — boxwood is her favorite — is a signature touch of interior designer MA Allen.

MA Allen
MA Allen Interiors
(919) 699-3131



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *