5 Tips for Avoiding a Griswold Holiday Decorating Disaster

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Although my kids and I love watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation each year, it’s also my worst professional nightmare: too much, too much, TOO MUCH!

Whether I’m decorating my own home for the holidays or styling a client’s place, I always follow 5 basic rules. The cool thing about them is they apply to every situation, no matter if you live in a studio apartment or a castle on the coast of England. Let me show you what I mean by introducing you to the “Hollys,” who own a beautiful loft filled with character in downtown Omaha. They wanted to dress their home for Christmas, but had no time to do so and no ideas on where to start.

1. Choose colors that complement your existing decor. If your walls and finishes fall within the earth tone family (which many do), then stick with natural reds and classic Christmas hues. No neon, please.

2. Find antiquey (I think I just made up a word) pieces that are cool on their own merit – no matter the time of year – and are reminiscent of the spirit of the holiday. In the loft, we found some precious antique children’s books with red leather covers and hung them on the dining room tree and the garland over the kitchen island. (This might be my favorite part of this styling project.)

3. Size matters, at least when it comes to tree selection. The scale of the interior where your tree will rest will dictate how tall and wide it should be. In the loft, we chose a tall, slender tree for the living room because there was limited floor space, but its 9-foot height takes advantage of the 12-foot ceilings.

4. Memories are an important part of the holiday season, so use personal trinkets from past Christmases that mean something to you. The Holly family has an amazing Christmas village collection, so we arranged it in an existing entry cabinet and lit it with a string of LED lights. It’s one of the first things visitors see when they enter the loft.

5. This last one is a biggie: capitalize on the space’s best feature. In the loft, the Hollys LOVE their incredible view on the world. With this in mind, we added classic European star lanterns filled with LED lights to some of the windows. Magical!

There it is, my holiday gift to you. But please feel free to keep it wrapped. If you’re a Clark Griswold type or have one in your family, enjoy the season in the way that makes you the happiest.

Happy Holidays! Until next time, I’ll be keeping an eye on design for you.

– EM

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