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Lead PhotoOur homes are blank canvases which we splash with seasonal sparkle. And, especially during these three months when holidays are back to back, it’s fun to find ways to change the mood of your home without doing major renovations.

Joann Baker of Joann Baker Interior Designs in Thousand Oaks says creating a holiday feeling can be as easy as adding accents to your window coverings. “Dress it up with scarves and fabric, or silver or gold that goes with your decor,” she says. “And then change things out for the different holidays like orange and brown for Thanksgiving or include holly and poinsettias to signify Christmas.”

Also appeal to the sense of smell to create a mood. Try having something with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg aromas brewing around Thanksgiving or the sweet scent of peppermint and gingerbread to evoke a sense of Christmas as guests come through the door. Smith suggests using “locally sourced eucalyptus pods as well as small branches to create subtle and fragrant holiday displays.”

One simple strategy for holiday decor is to fill a collection of apothecary jars with items that speak to the season. Orange candies and bows, or brown branches and seed pods say autumn and Thanksgiving. Refill those same jars with red items for Christmas or blue and white for Hanukkah. For some family fun, get everyone involved in creative ways to fill the jars. Then, when the next holiday comes, switch out the goodies with new ones to suit the special day.

Interior designer Pam Smith from Ventura County Home Staging says homeowners should consider texture when creating a mood. “Fur throws, fringed pillows, sisal rugs, pine cones and bare branches” evoke images of winter, she says.

Nancy Cranford of Nancy’s Design in Wood Ranch says the holidays are her busiest time of year. She has clients who go as far as reupholstering dining room chairs for the holidays and many who make new throw pillows for existing furniture to reflect the holiday spirit.

Here are some other great ideas from the pros:

  • Candlelight: For a look that will carry you from Thanksgiving to New Years, use “masses of candleholders in varying heights and styles for a centerpiece. That’s amazingly festive,” Smith says.
  • The kitchen: “It’s the heart of the home and everyone hangs out there during the holidays,” Cranford says. “Put up a cute holiday-themed valance . . . and use cushions and a tablecloth in holiday fabric.”
  • Navy blue for Hanukkah: “This is a perfect choice to add for a more stylized take. . . . as it blends so easily with most neutrals,” suggests Smith. “Look for pillows, throws and area rugs. Mix in mercury glass for its glittery festive qualities.” But avoid using navy with white, she cautions, because it may come across as nautical rather than holiday.
  • Still life: Baker suggests creating vignettes using your existing special pieces. “Gather china pieces and other items from around the home,” she says. “Create a little scene and mix in the color of the season and some lights and leaves. Play around with it and be creative.”
  • Bare branches for Christmas: “Have the kids learn how to create origami cranes to use as decorations,” says Smith. And for something a bit other than the traditional red and green, she suggests “soft pink with a soft jade green for a very interesting take on typical Christmas colors.”
  • Light it up: Replacing light bulbs in lamps with colored bulbs is an easy way to create a festive environment. “Use string lights on a table or on a counter,” adds Baker. Or put tiny battery-operated lights in your glass vases or bowls.
  • Fabrics of the Highlands: “Plaid evokes cooler weather to me,” says Smith. “Football games and plaid blankets go hand in hand. Consider using a plaid fabric at the base of the Christmas tree, or bring in a plaid blanket as a throw on the sofa. Houndstooth is definitely more graphic and dramatic.” If you’re feeling creative, fill one of your glass vessels with homemade houndstooth ornaments. “So fun!” she says.
  • Private places: Cranford reminds homeowners not to forget about bathrooms. “Get towels and mats with holiday colors,” she says.
  • Stepping out: Don’t forget to take the festivities outside. “Adding white lights on shrubs and trees always provides a beautiful holiday glow,” says Smith. “Last year I used topiary rosemary bushes strung with tiny white globe lights as outdoor Christmas trees. They were so beautiful and very inexpensive to put together.”

But, says Smith, the bottom-line question to ask yourself when planning your holiday decor is “What emotion are you trying to impart to visitors to your home?”

Armed with that answer and your own creativity, all that’s left is the fun.

Written by ELA LINDSAY   Photos by RICHARD GILLARD
Styling by Leslie Gregory Haukoos and Allison Montroy