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December 01, 2008

Less is more: Holiday decorating tips

Joy Gregory

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Stylin’ tips from the decorating pros this season

LET’S BE HONEST. The holiday season is a great time to talk about the wisdom that less is more. But condo dwellers who want to infuse a little holiday glitz into a compact living space also know that when it comes to decorating, it can be darn difficult to do more with less. There is, after all, a not-so-fine line between magnificence—and mess!

Well, take a deep breath and keep reading, because when it comes to decorating a condo, professional decorators have some great tips to share.

Leave big trees on the lot

You can have a Christmas tree in your condominium, but it may be wise to re-think your vision of this holiday classic, says Elizabeth Nandee of Basic Black Designs, Calgary.

Last year, she talked a client out of buying a massive tree for a condo. While the concept was intuitively brilliant—a giant tree for a small space—Nandee can envision a decorating disaster well before she sees it. Even if the tree itself had looked glorious, it would have restricted use of the space it occupied, and that’s not a great way to start a festive season that already packs its fair share of anxiety. In the end, instead of a large tree, Nandee brought in a much smaller (and less-expensive) silver tree. The room sparkled and so did the client.

Topiaries serve a similar function, says Rosalyn Lazaruk of Wicketblue Interiors, Edmonton. “You can always wrap the bottom in burlap and adorn it with a few ribbons or small Christmas balls if you want it to have a festive look.” Better yet, you can remove or switch-up the adornments to suit other themes, says Lazaruk. 

Scale is critical when decorating a small space, especially if the space serves multiple functions, as is often the case in an open-concept condominium, adds Sandra Young of Willow Studio, located in Calgary’s trendy Kensington district.

She suggests condo dwellers add some contemporary funk to their space with one of the “skinny” trees now on sale. Available in traditional greens or a variety of metallic hues, you can boost its impact by displaying it atop an art pedestal, or optimize its visual impact by making it the centerpiece on the dining room table.

Seek hue harmony

All three design consultants also recommend colour harmony when decorating small spaces, even when you want a look that really celebrates the holidays. Sticking to a shade palette that shares the same space on the colour wheel does not mean you can’t pump it up. If your main colour is green, add accessories with lime, lemon or turquoise, explains Young. If you’re starting with orange, look for ways to add fuchsia or magenta.

Party’s on! 

Planning in advance de-stresses main event If holiday decorating leaves you too pooped to entertain in your holiday-inspired condo, take heart. A little party-prep goes a long way to de-stressing the event, says interiors consultant Rosalyn Lazaruk of Wicketblue Interiors.

With storage at a premium, she advises clients to buy white go-with-anything dinnerware—and a fabulous Yuletide tablecloth or centerpiece. “The trick is to find innovative ways to use existing items,” says Lazaruk, who encourages people to invest in quality furniture, then accessorize on a budget.

Rent and return

A growing party rental industry also gives condo owners the opportunity to rent a lot of things they can’t store, including plates, glass and flatware, table linens, tables, chairs and accessories like candelabras, arches, vases and topiaries.

Renting means you can entertain and return items 

without cleaning, washing or ironing, says Katherine Lomax of Elegant Touches Inc., an Edmonton-based party planning and rental firm whose expansive (and above-industry-standard) inventory includes gold or silver charger plates and lead crystal wine glasses by Mikasa.

Entertaining in a condo often requires a little more attention to detail, since space is a priority. But companies like Elegant Touches can assess the space and maybe even import a temporary table that accommodates your guest list, explains Lomax, whose party planning services include a site check.

Having organized events ranging from romantic dinners for two to the Junos in Edmonton and Calgary, Lomax knows rentals are a great way to add elegance to an event. “Basically, if you give us a budget, we can do something for you—and you’ll love it.”


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