“I wanted a Christmas tree that you could happen upon in the forest,” says homeowner and designer Barbara Milner. So she strayed from the glam and glitz and focused on fashioning a natural appeal that didn’t feel crafty. “I was going for fuss-free...and yet I fussed so much,” she adds. In keeping with the earthy elegance of her tree, Barbara wrapped the gifts in brown kraft paper – “I love the back-to-basics understated feel of it,” she says. “But, as with anything, you choose your moment to make a statement.” Here, it’s all about the sumptuous satin ribbons.
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Unusual and imperfect yet bright and seasonal, persimmons are the perfect accents for this natural style. Strewn along the mantel, they look like they’re about to be foraged by the vintage taxidermied pheasants above.
Customize the drama
Instead of splurging on pre-made bows, Barbara suggests going to a fabric outlet and having some custom made. These pricey-looking ones created from four-inch-wide peau de soie are dramatically oversized: 16 inches wide with 22-inch tails. “If you can explain what you want, it’s inexpensive to go to the experts,” she says. Find more holiday DIY projects here.
With its muted, monochromatic palette, traditional touches (like the toile-look wallpaper), unexpected elements (check out the exotic veneer of the console) and elegant accents (don’t those sconces make you think of Gatsby?), the entryway feels “like an old, cozy Park Avenue hotel with an eclectic British undertone,” says Barbara. What could be more welcoming than that?
Put the elves to work
Barbara’s four-year-old son, Marshall, loves everything about Christmas, especially decorating. “He is very hands-on and opinionated about what’s beautiful,” says Barbara, “which is both a joy and a challenge.” Check out these fun and easy holiday decorating ideas for the whole family.
Think outside the box
It doesn’t always have to be in the shape of a house or a person – gingerbread is just as tasty in tree form. Their snowy candy-floss tops fit perfectly with the forest theme.
Medium Darlana lantern in Guilded Iron, Circa Lighting, $630 US. Dion mirror in G, through designers, Worlds Away, $1,200 US. Proud Pheasant figurine, Wayfair, $96 US per two-piece set.Deconstructed French Napoleonic armchair in Sand, Restoration Hardware, $1,195 US. Cole & Son Versailles 99/15061 wallpaper in Charcoal, Lee Jofa, $414 per double roll, through designers. Evergreen wreath, visit your local garden centre.