December’s here and it’s high time to deck the halls. Whether you’re the hostess with the mostest or a humble homebody, life is infinitely better with twinkling lights, festive garlands, and wreaths hung wherever they will go. And creating your very own winter wonderland doesn’t have to be a difficult task. To help guide you through the process, we enlisted the help of one of our in-house experts, Eileen Behnke, who worked with our president, Debbie Propst, to transform her home from its everyday state to the happy holiday retreat you see here. Read on for her tips and tricks and get inspired to transform your own space for the season.
Think About Your Theme
“We wanted it to feel traditional but with an ease to it,” says Eileen of the house’s holiday scheme. “This is definitely a family home, so we didn’t want it to feel stuffy—there needed to be a sense of whimsy.”
To pull off this tradition-meets-whimsy vibe, Eileen started with classic holiday decor and layered on fanciful details inspired by the surrounding countryside—think woodland creatures nestled among lush flora and fauna. On the mantels, pearl tassel ornaments and red cardinal accents liven up classic evergreen garlands. On the stairs, painted butterflies were pinned to appear as if flying up the banister.
Greenery on the mantels was accented with touches like pearl tassels and red cardinals, while painted butterflies were pinned to appear as if flying up the entry’s stairs. It’s a whimsy inspired by the surrounding countryside—woodland creatures nestled among the flora and fauna.
When choosing holiday decor, there’s no need to stick to a single color scheme throughout your whole home. For Debbie’s house, Eileen kept the theme of the decorations consistent but developed two distinct color palettes, filling rooms at the front with all things blue, silver, and white, and spaces in the back with a fresh take on signature red and green. “I wanted a variety of shades that worked with the home’s existing subtle palette,” says Eileen, who believes that your holiday style should reflect how you live at any other time of year—just with a bit more magic.
Lay a Transitional Setting
For Debbie’s holiday table settings, Eileen mixed seasonal accents with pieces Debbie and her family use year-round. On the breakfast table, she paired plates emblazoned with pheasant feathers from Juliska’s Harvest Collection with festive red glassware and gold flatware. “You can use the plates for Thanksgiving and Christmas but use everything else throughout the year,” says Eileen.
Rethink Your Garland
Greenery is a seasonal staple in many homes—but there’s much more to it than just Douglas fir. Eileen suggests combining a few varieties: In the entry, she added faux eucalyptus to a mix of spruce, juniper, and fir to create a garland that felt “more wild and fun,” while in the family room (part of the red-and-green scheme), she tucked a few magnolia leaves in with the evergreens.
Eileen also suggests investing in a few faux pieces to have as part of your holiday arsenal year after year. Faux berries and sprigs of greenery in silver and gold are an easy way to dress up a basic garland or wreath.
Don’t Forget the Details
The tree is up, the table’s set, and the stockings are hung. Now it’s time to consider the details that make all the difference. Things like cloved oranges, which are a favorite of both Debbie and Eileen, were placed in bowls and oversize glass canisters throughout the house for a pop of color—and that impossible-to-resist citrus aroma. “I love the idea of bold bowls of fruit everywhere during the holidays,” says Eileen. “It’s such a visually impactful but easy trick.”