Ryan's Eye: Christmas Décor
By Will Ryan
As the Christmas season approaches many of you are beginning to think about your Christmas decorating. There is not a right or wrong way of approaching these creative projects but I am making a few suggestions should you need a guideline. First I plan to discuss the styling of outdoor décor as well as available items, colouring and lighting.
When I say styling I mean that the styling of the house could often influence the look and type of decoration. A symmetrical house with a centre front door asks for a symmetrical solution. Traditional Georgian buildings favour a more conventional approach, whereas unconventional containers, decorations and lighting, can enhance a contemporary structure.
Moving on to availability of items, if you have trees or shrubs you are well on your way, as they always appear festive and inviting when covered in lights. Another plus are planters or any other container that can hold an arrangement. These containers can be dressed with branches such as dogwood, magnolia leaves, holly bunches, corkscrew hazel, hydrangea, sumac and evergreen branches. Contemporary settings can spray paint branches or even bamboo poles or use clear or plastic rods in their planters or containers. The addition of bows, decorations and lighting can be added to further fluff out the arrangement. Ensure the bows are made of weatherproof material and make them larger than you would normally. If necessary, wire them to a bamboo pole. Plastic decorations tend to be waterproof and can stand up to the vagaries of our weather, however, test them first to make sure they are colourfast. I once had decorations outside where the colour ran when they got wet and looked very sad. Containers with
branches can also be lit with Christmas lights to add a focal point. If using containers, make sure they are sturdy so the wind cannot blow them over or dislodge them. Keep in mind snow load as well, although, unless it is an extremely heavy snowfall, they seem to be fine.
Your décor colour choice can be influenced by the existing building colour. White painted houses with black shutters are very appealing with predominantly red and gold colour combinations. Red colouring can move into the magenta side of red. There are other colour combinations that seem season appropriate like blue spruce and grey, which can also include plum red. Grey with grey green and reddish brown, also birch stems with silver and white. Well, there are no hard and fast rules in this game.
Lighting can influence the appearance and if done correctly can greatly enhance the décor. Multicoloured lights evoke a nostalgic and cheerful feel but are specific to Christmas and really should come down immediately after the holidays. Clear orwhite lights can be extended after the season as long as the bows and decorations are removed. There are some guidelines to using clear or white lights. Try to purchase the ones with a warmer tone. Many of them have a blue tone to them that doesn't look well next to other light sources such as a front porch light. If you are adding lights to ones you already have, ensure they are the same tone. I would avoid blue or green lights unless they are within a string of multicoloured lights, as
they tend to be on the cool side and are not as inviting or welcoming as the warmer colours. Put your lights on a timer, and for safety, keep the extension cord out of sitting water, and tape over any unoccupied sockets.
When your guests are expected, nothing says welcome more than candles in lanterns lining the path and wreaths on thegates and/or door.
Whatever décor decisions you make, remember there are no rules except they should be fun, safe, stress free and reflect who you are.