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December 01, 2012

Tinsel thrifty

Décor ideas that spread holiday cheer economically

Jessica Patterson

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Creating a festive, attractive home for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. You can furnish your home and have a well-dressed entertaining space on a budget. And for Christmas 2012, sparkle is back.

“Most people who decorate for Christmas leave their homes as is, but add accents for Christmas,” says interior designer Sheena Trip-de-Roche, of K Bella Designs.

Spread a little bit of Christmas cheer in each room, but don’t overdo it, so that your home looks like something from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “Maybe buy one thing a year, instead of buying all of your decorating supplies, accents and whatnot at the same time, add one piece each year to slowly add to your collection,” Trip-de-Roche says.

Don’t throw last year’s Christmas décor out in favour of buying all new this year. “Use what you have now,” Trip-de-Roche advises. “There are a lot of things you can do to refresh or repurpose older items.”

What the interior designer does in her own home is decorate with plastic balls, she says, adding that she’ll spray paint them to match a colour scheme. “They’re plastic, not glass, do they’re kid and pet-friendly. You don’t have to worry about them breaking.”

Decorating on a budget might include looking to your own backyard for inspiration. If you have a fir or evergreen tree, snip a few branches from it and use them as a decorative centrepiece in a vase, or using a solitary branch as your Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

If you want, get a TM66 tree-cutting permit, but be aware some private vendors only issue them for cutting Christmas trees.

Calgarians can get them through the Environment and Sustainable Resources Department.

If your Christmas plans don’t involve tromping through the backcountry, or  if you don’t want to buy a scraggly tree from the lot down the street, or perhaps that $50 perfect fir or spruce is not in your budget — there’s an easy solution.

“Charlie Brown Christmas trees are totally back in style,” says KerryLynn Wyszynski, interior designer and creative director of One Space at a Time Ltd., who has spent the last 15 years designing and decorating other people’s houses. “Just that one little branch — there’s your budget tree. If it’s in your backyard, you don’t need a permit.”

One branch or small tree is good for condo owners, too. “It depends on your space as well,” Wyszynski says. “The bigger the tree, the less budget friendly it will be.”

Trip-de-Roche says when it comes to the traditional tree, multi-coloured lights of the 1970s are out. “They look old, even if they’re LED lights. They still come in multi-colour, but I believe white ones outsell multi-colour.”

If you have a small space, Pushing Petal’s Grinch Tree may be the perfect Christmas decoration for you. “Our signature seasonal product is a cross between a Dr. Seuss Grinch Tree and the lobby of the Plaza New York,” says Pushing Petal’s Rob Patenaude.

“Our trees stand approximately 30-inches tall and are made up of a unique arrangement of mixed Christmas greens! They come fully dressed with ornaments of the season and we can add lights as well. “They sell for about $125 each.”

Christmas decorating still depends largely on one’s personal tastes. “I think people should do what’s comfortable for them,” Wyszynski says, adding, “yet, you don’t want the 1970s decorations up anymore, but that was trendy then.”

“You don’t want to go too trendy, because your budget will crumble. If you buy into the trends each year, you’re replacing all of your Christmas decor every year with the new stuff,” Wyszynski says. “If you want to keep to a budget — you don’t have to be traditional, but you have to be picky with what you choose. Choose things that are going to be timeless instead of trendy.”

Timeless and traditional colours that are in style for Christmas, any year, include red, green, silver and white. To give those colours some flash, add some sparkle.

Trip-de-Roche says gold is coming back in a big way. “In my home, I do a lot of green, with garlands, and I accent with silvers and whites, though I might change it to gold this year. I’m seeing more glitter this year, more sparkle and gold.”

Sparkly ornaments and decorative items often give you more bang for your buck, Wyszynski agrees. “Sparkle is going to make your space look bigger,” she says. “It’s going to make your one little gorgeous item seem like it is so much more because it’ll catch people’s eyes.”

Trendy colours change with each Christmas season, and as Trip-de-Roche says, “you can get anything these days.” The big challenge is not to make it look like a 1970’s winter wonderland, with orange as blinding as the blue tones in the old electric lights your parents had.

Now, rich colours, deeper tones and saturated colours are available for your holiday decorating. Deep purples and blues are making headway in department stores. As mcuh as we may want an all white holiday-themed room, all white only looks good in magazines. All white decor doesn’t take kids, pets and husbands into factor.

“Start with colour first, maybe even go look at the stores to see what they’re doing. If there’s a particular piece, like a wreath, you particularly like, look for decorative items in the same colour range to compliment,” Wyszynski says.

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