One of the best ways to get inspired to decorate for the holidays is by visiting high-end hotels. These hotels have professional decorators — sometimes even a staff of decorators in-house — that come up with exquisite decorations all year ’round, but especially at the holidays. You can just stop by to see the decorations, or treat yourself to lunch or cup of coffee or a cocktail while you’re there.
Recently I visited the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn just outside of San Diego, California. I was particularly inspired by a sideboard in an outdoor loggia as well as a mantle tucked away off the lobby.
There are three basic elements to this sideboard arrangement: a simple lighted garland, candle lanterns and icicle trees. The composition is very symmetrical, which is calming to the eye. The garland is composed of fresh cutting from various evergreens, and it’s fairly loose. Note that individual cuttings are tucked between the lanterns to tie in the tabletop surface with the garland framing the mirror.
Next, three identical lanterns are placed on the sideboard. (Note: When shopping for accessories, buy in multiples if the price is right.) Flanking the lanterns are two small artificial trees made of icy-looking branches. It’s a little hard to see in the photo, but individual branches in the same icy motif were tucked here and there in the garland, again to reinforce the theme and take it all the way around the mirror. This is a great tip: take one element and repeat it around the vignette (or the room).
One of the most challenging places to decorate for the holidays is the mantle. This simple arrangement is again quite symmetrical and demonstrates a strong decorating theme: using a pyramid shape.
In the center of the arrangement is the star, the pinnacle of the pyramid. (Hint: Use a removable Command® brand hook to hang a temporary decorative element over your fireplace.) Next, a garland (fuller than the one in the last photo) is laid on the mantle surface, wrapped in miniature lights. This mantle shows a good use for a small collection of nutcrackers. Bringing a collection to one place helps give it more presence, rather than scattering them around the room. Notice how the nutcrackers are arranged with the two smaller ones on the inside and larger on the ends. This helps create height and completes the pyramid effect. A few large gold ball ornaments bring some sparkle to the arrangement.
Adjacent to the fireplace are two L-shaped banquettes. For the holidays, the hotel changed out a few toss pillows to a holiday motif. A few solid red and green pillows mix with lively prints. To save storage space, look for pillow covers that can go over your everyday pillows.
If you incorporate any of these professional secrets — symmetry, repetition, natural elements, light and a little sparkle — into your holiday decorating, you’ll be on your way to a spectacular holiday home!