Holiday Home Makeover

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Put a modern twist to your traditional holiday decor.

Holiday Home Makeover

By now, you’ve likely pulled dusty boxes of half-broken ornaments, partially used candles, tangled twinkling lights and themed tablecloths from the bowels of your closet. But before you deck your house in holiday splendor, reconsider the décor of old. The impending New Year marks a fresh take to tradition, according to Carmen Natschke of Decorating Diva, an online home design resource.

“As with all things décor, the basics will always have a strong influence,” she said. “I don’t see a significant down trend in traditional holiday color usage. What I do see is a fusion of traditional color basics and trendy color newcomers, such as pink, robin’s egg blue, sage, chocolate and other 2008 color favorites.”

But before you try to match your home with the glossy pages of home design magazines, figure out your own decorating style.

“If your entire home is decorated in country or rustic décor, then the ultra modern Miami Beach White Acrylic Christmas decor is not for you, even if you did absolutely love the way it looked in the magazine,” according to Decorating Diva online.

In the Lowcountry, holiday home décor can run the extreme — either casual chic or over-the-top posh. Specialty shops from the tip of Hilton Head to the outskirts of St. Helena Island emphasize the natural surroundings with natural tones of greens and browns, shells, sand and fun sea creature ornaments. When in doubt, think local as you consider your holiday design scheme.

A GRAND ENTRANCE
Guide the eye by dressing up your door, foyer and staircase. Natschke said it typically takes 10 to 12 seconds for people to make up their minds about something they see. With that window of time, concentrate your creative mojo on the places that count.

Make a dramatic entrance by dressing up your stairway with garlands, ribbon and potted plants. According to about.com, you can make garland out of just about any material — including pine, ivy and pinecones. Add fabulous touches with metallic berries, ornaments, shimmering satin or velvet ribbons and flowers. Create an Oscar-worthy catwalk with door swags. Measure the length of the stairway, and place door swags at even intervals up the stairs.

Link wreaths together with holiday ribbon at intervals up the stairs. Hang wreaths on the doors and walls, but add some pop to the traditional green by wiring on tiny red and silver ornaments.

“Create conversation seating areas,” said Natschke.

“Sometimes the floor plan for everyday living at home fails in the party environment. So, make it party friendly by creating intimate sections that will encourage guests to chat.”

NON-TRADITIONAL TREE TRIMMING
Everyone knows that the monolithic Christmas tree is the focal point of December’s festive holiday décor. But why gussy it up with the same old glass bulbs, garland and tinsel that you use every year?

Put a modern twist to your traditional holiday decor.Try a fresh take on tree trimming by incorporating unusual décor. With the beaches a short drive or, in some cases, walk away, scout out the sandy shores for beautiful shells. Take them home and let them soak in a bucket of water. After they’re clean, crazy glue the shells to a long piece of ribbon for a natural shell garland.

If you’re hunting for more exotic fauna, hit your local craft store for packages of starfish and oyster shells to create an instant Lowcountry look. One word of advice for beachcombers: Examine the conch shells for life; if you’re not careful, you’ll have an unexpected visitor crawling around the house.

“Add modern touches to the traditional Christmas tree with unexpected ornaments like mermaids or contemporary art inspired ornaments,” said Natschke. “Adventurous decorating divas may want to consider the upside down Christmas tree — that’s definitely turning traditional holiday style on its head.”

She also recommended spicing up the traditional tree with soft pinks, Halloween-infused blacks and oranges or sophisticated silver.

HOMEMADE KWANZA DETAILS
Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday celebrated throughout the world, honoring African heritage, featuring activities such as candle lighting and pouring of libations, culminating in a feast and gift giving.

One of the most popular Kwanzaa decorating details includes fruits, which are often placed in a basket on the table to symbolize a prosperous harvest. Spread the theme of bounty throughout the home with Better Homes & Gardens’ fruit broom. Arrange artificial fruit pieces — including grapes, cherries, half apples and pears — on the front of a 24-inch decorative broom. Wrap ribbon around the broom handle and top it off with a large ribbon bow.

Form a loop from the ribbon at the top to hang the broom with excess wire on the back.

Other traditional Kwanzaa elements include the kinara — seven candles that represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa — and symbolic centerpieces. A typical Kwanzaa display consists of the following:

  • Mkeka: Located at the base of the display, this straw mat “represents tradition as the foundation on which everything else rests,” according to Better Homes & Gardens.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Choose fruits and vegetables that will stay fresh-looking without refrigeration — including winter squash, pumpkins, gourds and apples.
  • Mshumaa: Seven candles in black, red and green that represent unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
  • Muhindi: An ear of corn is placed at the table to represent children in the household or the potential for children and prosperity.
  • Kikombe cha umoja: The unity cup is used for pouring libations to remember ancestors.

LIGHTING UP HANUKKAH
Known as the “celebration of lights,” Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the triumph of the Jews over their oppressors in ancient Israel. When Jews reclaimed their temple, they found only enough oil to create light for one day, but that oil lasted for eight days.

Holiday trends mirror the general overall design trends for 2008, which are diverse and interesting, — The Decorating DivaThe lighting of the Hanukkah candles symbolizes that miracle — which is why the nine candles of the menorah offer much significance to this religious holiday.

Better Homes & Gardens suggests making the menorah the “true star” of the dinner table by surrounding it with lovely linens and fresh foliage. Add a contemporary take to the traditional blue-and-white Hanukkah table with bold geometrics and a Star-of-David shaped collar of boxwood and statice. Martha Stewart Living recommends surrounding the Hanukkah home with traditional tastes, including brisket dinner, sweet potato latkes with onions, caramel applesauce, roasted barley pilaf and apple tarte tatin. Check out marthastewart.com for recipes, ideas and craft templates.

Holiday trends mirror the general overall design trends for 2008, which are diverse and interesting,” said Natschke.

She said some of the prevailing trends for 2008 include globally inspired influences, including China, Africa (with a strong showing from Morrocco), Mexico and India; eco-friendly and sustainable products; animal prints in traditional colors and unexpected colors, such as hot pink zebra print; and paisley patterns.