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35 Designer-Approved Holiday Decorating Ideas

From fabulous fresh takes on seasonal greenery to inspirational ways to layer your own heirlooms, we’ve tapped our favorite pros (and visited a few at home!) to showcase Christmas beauty you’ll want to leave up well into the new year.

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Photo: Jeff Herr

Dress Every Space for the Holidays

There’s ephemeral delight in decorating for celebrations: as the days grow shorter and holidays approach, making a home full of warmth and light is a kind of special-occasion domestic magic. As it happens, the key to maintaining that je ne sais quoi all year long is also the key to making your space uniquely spectacular: adapt the stuff you love best with holiday accessories and it’ll still feel special when you transition into the next season. Take a stroll down our block of designer decorations — beginning with this wish-we-were-there fireside living room in James Farmer’s North Carolina cottage — and bring the best ideas home with you.

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Photo: Jeff Herr

Try Elegant Amaryllis and Bright Berries

Let’s dwell on that cozy scene at James Farmer’s cottage, shall we? To bring a bit of his scenic surroundings indoors, James turned to collaborator and friend Libby Endry, floral designer and owner of The Gardener’s Cottage (a home, garden and gift shop in Asheville, North Carolina). These spectacular arrangements are how she says “the holidays are here.”

“I love using cut amaryllis this time of year,” she explains. “For a more wintry inspired design, white amaryllis with privet berry (which is a plum/purpley color this time of year) and Fraser fir or Carolina sapphire foliage with their silvery tones pair beautifully together.”

Looking for something a bit more saturated? “For the warmer, ‘cozy by the fireplace’ holiday feel, try red amaryllis instead and mix with orangey red berries and magnolia,” Libby suggests. “Reds mixed with shades of orange or ‘Carl’ (coral) as James would say — or even pink — create a much more inviting, warm and interesting composition." Let’s consider another presentation of those tones, shall we?

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Photo: Jeff Herr

Combine Reds, Oranges and Corals

James’s spectacular screen and the flora Libby chose to accent the room around it demonstrate how tones we might first associate with the harvest season are also powerhouses in the coldest months. Big-headed, peachy blooms like the Free Spirit roses she arranged on the coffee table pair beautifully with red berries and vivid leaves.

When planning your own arrangement, “start simple with just one, maybe two types of flowers in a monochromatic color scheme added to the greens, grouping the flowers by type together for a garden inspired look,” Libby advises. “There’s nothing boring about simple in my opinion! In fact, you actually can have too many types of flowers in one arrangement, which ends up taking away from all of them and can look like a circus.”

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Photo: Jeff Herr

Go Ahead and Forage...

The branches in this arrangement are from Walgreens — not the store, mind you, but the parking lot. “For this particular spot in James’s house, we needed a simple yet dramatic look against the window and the branches had to be tall and ‘sprangely,’” Libby recalls. (‘Sprangely’ isn’t officially a word, “but it’s the only one I’ve ever come up with that seems to convey branches with a lot of movement and reach,” she says.)

“We like to call that ‘civic pruning,’” she continues. “Sometimes the effect you want to create just can’t be described or ordered through the wholesaler and so you end up foraging for yourself.” You heard it here: Even the pros reach for neighborhood greens. “My mom helped me ‘procure’ this particular batch of nandina, and they were perfect for the shoot! Nandina is a very common leafy shrub with berries that turn from a pinkish to orangey red.” For best results with greenery like this, she recommends recutting the stems and changing their water once a week.

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