Nov 27 2012
The Girls at Bella Vita had a chance to sit down with local decorator (and friend!) Becca Gaines to pick her brain about the holiday season. Between decorating her own home, helping out clients, and spending time with family she's one busy girl. If anyone had beautiful and practical decorating tips we knew it would be her!
We know you're busy and ready to get your decorating done, so without further adieu, here's Becca's take on holiday decorating!
BV- To kick things off, what's your best piece of advice for surviving the holiday season?
BG- This will probably sound all too familiar, but every year the weeks leading up to Christmas get so incredibly busy! Christmas decorating is one of my favorite things to do-- along with cooking, wrapping, and celebrating-- but every year I have to remind myself that I can’t do it all. For my take-charge, nearly Christmas obsessed self this is especially hard advice to swallow, but I swallow it and you should too. I've learned it’s more important to remember what all of this fuss is about, and that it’s OK to set these things aside to play with my baby girl, or to even let her help decorate. After all, she’s only pulling my strategically placed ornaments off the tree because she’s curious!
Speaking of letting go, my biggest personal decorating sacrifice was giving up a cut evergreen tree for an artificial one. Unfortunately with my allergies I haven’t had good luck housing a cut evergreen in my living room. It wasn't easy, but by using a few designer tricks that I have picked up over the last six years we have learned to embrace it! If this is the case for you too, just do it-- let go and embrace the artificial. After all, what good are all the beautiful decorations if you can't stand to sit and admire them?!
BV- That's so true, and such great advice not only during the holidays but year round as well. You can only do what you can do!
Now that we've all set realistic expectations for the holidays (yeah, right!), give us your top ten tips and tricks for setting a holiday tone in our homes. What can we do to get the designer look on our own time?
BG- As with most any type of decorating, it's all in the details. Here's what I go by year after year:
1) Raise the Tree
Raise your tree a little higher off the ground. This gives the branches room to sag, while the gifts actually fit under the tree. When I fluff our artificial tree each year, I push on the lower limbs until they develop a natural-looking droop.
2) Custom Stockings
Our stockings were custom made – by me! Don’t look too closely at the craftsmanship, as sewing is not my forte! I used yardage from the Bella Notte bedding line, which you’re probably familiar with if you shop at Bella Vita or Itty Bitty Bella. Almost the entire line is machine washable, even this quilted silk velvet! I figured that was a bonus.
3) Get Creative With the Skirt
Does anyone else have pets who make your tree skirt into a bed? We always find our dogs snuggled up in the presents…and they are not small dogs! For years, I have saved my extra Bella Notte yardage to tailor into a tree skirt, but like I said, it seems life only gets busier. I found that the easiest, not to mention great looking, tree skirt can be achieved by bunching a few yards of burlap or a flokati rug around the base of your tree. This year, we are using a giant basket instead of the burlap skirt. A large planter could be just as cool. I love how tidy it is, and I don’t have to vacuum dog hair off of it.
4) Layer the Tree
One simple thing I like to do to create an impressive tree…layer! Whether your ornaments were carefully selected crystal and mercury glass, or Popsicle stick and construction paper homemade treasures, layering the depth of placement inward and outward among the branches creates a cozy tree.
5) Add Evergreen & Cinnamon
Christmas candy, music, and the smells of fresh evergreens and cinnamon can stimulate the senses to create a whimsical atmosphere. I buy several bags of cinnamon scented pine cones each year to place on the branches throughout the tree. I usually toss a few extras onto the skirt with the presents, or into the tree basket.
6) Wrapping Paper
I can be picky when it comes to wrapping paper. Sometimes I just stick with traditional brown paper packaging, but I like to spruce it up by attaching one of those scented pine cones, an evergreen sprig, candy cane, ornament, or paper snowflake.
7) Add Mercury Glass
Mercury glass has made a huge comeback in the past few years, especially in Christmas ornaments. I love to pair these more glamorous decorations with items found in nature, so don’t feel like you can’t have both! There is something really alluring about the combination of these opposites.
8) The Tree Topper - Be Different!
Your tree topper doesn’t have to be a star or an angel. It could be a top hat, a burlap bow, a bird nest, you name it! A decorator friend of mine from Nashville, Bo Boaz, inspired me by the way his placement of accessories and Christmas ornaments told a story. There was usually some meaning behind what he created. We have always had a star on top of our tree, but Bo’s thoughtful decorating has inspired a new tree topper for our home... I do love the traditional star, but this year, I am on the hunt for the perfect crown to top our tree.
Garlands and wreaths aren’t just meant for the front door! Hang them in unexpected places. Sometimes, I like to place a wreath over a mirror, on the front of a bookcase, at the foot of an iron bed, or inside a window. The festive, natural texture adds softness and an instant holiday charm to any space.
10) A Special Place
Last but not least! This tip will help you out year round… I always group heirlooms and Christmas collectables in one place to show them off! Your collection is already an expression of your personality. By clustering these pieces together, layering and contrasting their scale, you can create very personal artwork.
There you have it, Becca's top 10 holiday tips and tricks! We definitely learned a thing or two and we hope you did too. Now, go get that house decorated!
- The Girls at Bella Vita
Photography by Becca Gaines