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A well-designed vaulted living room with a 12 foot Christmas tree decorated with red ornaments

Designer Secrets: Create a Stunning Christmas look with sentimental Charm

December 8, 2021

Christmas Decorating: It’s all a balance

a beautiful designer Christmas living room

How do we achieve a “Designer” Christmas decor look while maintaining the cozy warmth of our treasured and sentimental decorations?

It’s so difficult when we see and love so many different styles to find the right fit and stay true to ourselves.

I’m all about getting inspired and appreciating the various ways people decorate for the holidays.

It’s astonishing how no two homes are exactly alike when it comes to Christmas decor.

We can all shop at the same stores and choose different items, or we may even choose the same items and use them in different ways.

Add in the treasured collections that we have gathered and cherished from our own childhoods and even generations before, and boom…unique, personal, sentimental, and one-of-a-kind!

5 Designer secrets to balance the designer look with sentimental charm

  1. Start with a color scheme
  2. Add ONLY sentimental pieces within the color palette
  3. Incorporate negative space
  4. Do the unexpected
  5. Group similar items/collections
  6. Repeated Design Elements

1. Start like a designer…with a color!

The color theme will help guide you in your selections and give your Christmas decor some boundaries.

When you choose a color, or set of 2 colors, your decor will start to become more cohesive and give you that pulled-together designer look.


You don’t have to use the same color scheme through the whole house.

For example, this year, I used all red (and a little white) in the kitchen, dining, and living rooms because they are all open to each other, while sticking with green, gold and white in the office and bedroom.

Designer Tip: When you put away your Christmas decor for the year, organize it by color so it will be a easier to find what your need in future years!

By using a consistent color scheme, the eye goes from the red (in this case) here to the red over there, and each area or vignette has it’s own moment, but it ties in to rest.

I like to decorate the Christmas tree first and let it be the inspiration for the room or house.

Using red as the example, I first filled the tree with all my red ball ornaments.

Then, I added red berries, red (and white) ribbon, and red lanterns.

(I love the how the red ticking stripe ribbon and lanterns keep the decoration feeling down-to-earth and relaxed. I never want my home to feel like a museum or inaccessible.)

Here’s a few pictures showing where I used a different color scheme (greens, white and gold/natural browns like jute and wood):

I chose these colors because they played well with the SW Sea Salt wall color which is a light greenish gray/blue.

2. Add only handmade and Sentimental Items that fit the color scheme

Here’s where you get to incorporate some special, more personal touches to your Christmas decor.

It can be difficult to leave out some favorite items that may not be within this years color scheme, but there’s always other rooms where they may fit, and if not, there’s NEXT YEAR, when you can choose a different color theme!

Go through your collected and sentimental ornaments and use only the ones that are the correct color for the room on your tree. Scatter them around.

Even though we are keeping with a color scheme, we are adding warmth and soul with each sentimental ornament and decoration we use.

The result is a gorgeous “Designer Look” that is also personal and meaningful and connects us to the ones we love!

My grandmother crocheted these red and white ornaments and they are a family treasure. I was so happy to
incorporate them into this year’s tree!
I also had these red framed photos of Christmas memories, so they are adding a lot of homey, sentimentality.
My daughter’s boots from when she was a toddler get a place on the tree!

What other Christmas items do you have that are the right color(s)?

My mom is a quilter and has made me a few Christmas quilts and a Christmas tree skirt.

I love to use these treasure gifts around the house.

The red in this quilt wasn’t quite right for the living room, but I was able to use it in this Stair Hall because there is enough space from the deeper reds in the living room and dining room.

Some Items like the green pillow above can be found on my Amazon Storefront.

3. Designers Curate & Edit to leave room for the eye to rest (especially important at Christmas)

When there are too many decorations everywhere it is actually more difficult to see and appreciate them.

Nothing stands out and it’s all lost in the clutter.

Give your ornaments and decoration room to breathe, or blank space around them so they can really shine!

In designer speak, this is called negative space, and it allows the eye (and mind) to rest.

By incorporating negative space, you allow your treasured decorations to make a statement.

…and the statement isn’t “I have too many decorations.”

Isn’t it easier to see and appreciate the wedding dress alone on display in the window versus squished on the rack with all the hundreds of other wedding dresses?

You have a lot of decorations and you want to use them all, I get it.

And you can!

But maybe rotate them each year so can really give honor and attention to the ones you DO use this year!

Use your color scheme to help you edit and guide your choices.

The holidays can be a stressful and busy time.

Having a home that is too busy with decorations makes it more difficult to relax.

Let your home be a welcoming, cozy, restful space by not filling every single nook and cranny with decorations.

4. Add a touch of the unexpected to your Christmas design

Add a personal touch or something that is uniquely ‘you’ in your decor. What is something that is meaningful and personal to you?

Or put a simple touch in an unexpected place like in the powder room as a reminder that it’s Christmas.

We always add a squirrel to our tree because it It reminds us of a favorite Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation.

Also, this squirrel reminds ME not to put too much pressure on perfection during the Christmas season!

Unexpected items are great conversation starters and add warmth, history, and stories to your beautiful Christmas design.

5. Designers always Group like items together for more impact

This is a designer secret that can be used year-round.

Collections and similar objects have more presence and impact when grouped together.

If you’ve been collecting owl ornaments since you were a kid, grouping them on a small tree where they are the only ornaments, except for maybe some ribbon or beaded garland will have more impact than sprinkling them in with the rest of the ornaments on a bigger tree. (Not to mention Guideline #2)

For example, this basket in the picture below of several antique jingle bells in a variety of sizes makes them look collected and intentional instead of scattered and haphazard.

6. Repeat design elements

This should probably be higher on the list.

It’s a good one!

By repeating your design elements, you bring it all together and make it look cohesive!

In my home, you’ll see the the red ticking stripe is used in the ribbon on the tree and repeated on the stockings, wrapping paper, and throw pillows.

Additionally, I used berries repeatedly throughout my design.

They are tucked into the tree branches, into the garland and flower arrangement, and encircling the candles.

Also, I have plaids and lanterns repeated throughout my home.

We live on a lake and I carefully chose these repeated elements to be a subtle nod to casual, cozy lake life.

In this image, you see 3 repeated elements: lanterns, plaid and ticking stripes.
a beautiful designer Christmas living room

You CAN have BOTH decorations with a history, story, and soul, AND beautiful designer-looking Christmas decor!

We can allow each precious treasure to shine and be the star of the show by following these guidelines.

I hope you find this article inspiring and helpful! If so, please share and pin, and comment below…I’d love to hear from you!

About our Home

If you have came for the Christmas decorating tips but fell in love with my home, I have good news for you!

Our Floor plans, which I designed, are for sale! CLICK HERE for all the details!

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