44 Designer Decorating Secrets for a Brilliant Holiday Season

44 Designer Decorating Secrets for a Brilliant Holiday Season

Can you believe it’s the holiday season again?

The shift into the holidays brings crisp whites, shimmery gold and silver, and a festive style only seen at this time of year. We try to think of something new to add to Christmas decorating each year. It might be a small twist, but who doesn’t like surprises and a little change?

Our incredible interior designers contributed some of their best holiday decorating tips and secrets to help you add something new to your Christmas and winter holiday traditions.

With so many secrets revealed, you’re sure to find a new way to spread joy throughout your home and neighborhood, no matter which holiday season you celebrate.

christmas decor

  1. My favorite designer tip is to put up separate trees with different themes. That way you can change your décor as your tastes change without getting rid of treasured pieces or family heirlooms.
  2. Put different themes in different rooms in your home to spread the Christmas cheer!
  3. Try using ribbon, feathers, or even a large snowman hat to top off your tree.
  4. I cut fresh greens from the tree belt at the farm and mix them in with the artificial tree. It’s a great way to fill in the gaps and fill your home with the smell of evergreens.
  5. The more lights, the better! Lights make your tree come to life. Wrap each branch from the trunk to the tip of the branches. You’ll be amazed by how much light you’ll get.
  6. To make it sparkle, even more, add glittery picks and reflective ornaments (hang some deep inside the tree branches). The twinkling lights will bounce off these surfaces and create a magical experience.
  7. Put everyday décor away and relocate furniture to make room for the tree. Your room won’t feel overwhelmed by the new addition.
  8. No space for a tree? Light up a wreath and decorate it with ornaments.
  9. Give your greenery and garlands new life by adding new accents like ribbon or Christmas picks.railing decoration christmas
  10. Wrap gifts in boxes when possible. It makes for a prettier package under the tree.
  11. Mix ornament sizes, starting with large ornaments and working down to smaller ornaments.
  12. A combination of navy, gold, and silver is a hot new trend for this holiday season.
  13. Cranberry sprigs tucked into branches add a great, colorful touch.
  14. Use battery-powered timed candles for decorating during the holidays. I place them on the mantle, but they’ll add a cozy feel to any space.
  15. Invest in unique stocking holders for your mantle. They’re a great foundation piece when deciding on a theme.
  16. For the stair railing, hang ornaments on ribbons at varying heights up the rail. This unique technique is sure to impress your guests
  17. Shake it up and place the base of your tree in a basket instead of putting a skirt around it.
  18. Choose a theme and stick with it. Using the mantle as your starting point will help set the theme for the rest of the space.
  19. Fill decorative bowls with pinecones, colorful ornaments, holiday florals, and other various pieces. Don’t be afraid to use a variety of shapes and textures.
  20. Hang Christmas cards from twine with baby clothespins.
  21. Traditional plaid prints mix perfectly with the colors of the holiday season.
  22. Vintage items and family antiques such as doilies and old canisters pair easily with holiday spaces. Embrace them this season!
  23. Wrap interior doors in wrapping paper.
  24. Use multi-colored lights in fun rooms but stick to clear or white lights in formal rooms.
  25. Use a variety of fresh greens throughout the house. This easy trick adds the amazing smell of evergreens to any home, even those who choose an artificial tree.christmas plaid decor
  26. Hang lights during the cold seasons. The subtle glow of light makes my apartment feel warm and inviting. I drape them from the ceiling in my living room or hang them down the walls.
  27. Dig out Christmas “artwork” from throughout the years. Change up family photos on walls, ledges, bookcases, and shelves to showcase all my family’s memories.
  28. Bring out Christmas quilts and pillows and add them to sofas and beds. Then add Christmas to the bedroom by using holiday pillowcases on every person’s bed.
  29. Put Christmas books on the shelves and on the table tops so they’ll be ready to share with children or act as additional holiday décor.
  30. Layer multiple area rugs to add warmth and softness. Use those old antique rugs over the top of sisal rugs or carpets. Dare to go bold with a pattern on pattern.
  31. To create a festive outdoor experience, fill balloons with water and food coloring, tie and simply let nature do the rest. It’s just as fun for adults as it is for kids.
  32. Switch out some of your everyday decorative pillows for pillows with bigger, bolder textures. Try cable knit, fur, and other rich, warm textures to add a bit more decadence to the season.
  33. Bring out the china! If you have room, keep the table set. Light some candles and polish the silver for a sparkling glow. Then have a dinner party.
  34. Find your inner kid by making cutout paper snowflakes. I suggest cutting out many shapes and large sizes for more intricate designs (sometimes I draw mine out before I cut).
  35. china
  36. Make paper chain out of colored construction paper. It’s cheap, fun, and creates a cozy, colorful space.
  37. Don’t be afraid to explore nontraditional holiday colors, even glittery pastel blues and pinks are trending this year.
  38. If you go nontraditional, go BIG and make a holiday statement.
  39. Stuff glass vases or other containers with battery powered mini LED lights.
  40. Spray paint tree branches white, add red berries and put them in a large glass vase filled with lights. Want it more casual? Use a galvanized metal bucket instead.
  41. Hang pine boughs with wide ribbon on the back of dining chairs.
  42. Use a pair of children’s ice skates as your table centerpiece. Lean them against a glass cylinder stuffed with lights and greenery.
  43. Hang large ornaments or paper snowflakes from the ceiling in room corners, down the hall, or against the wall above the TV.
  44. Tired of your Christmas village? Give it new life by spray painting every building the same color (try silver, gold, or pale blue). Then add glitter and white accents to the “snowy” parts of the buildings.
  45. Use large decorative lanterns or canning jars to create winter scenes inside like snow globes. The people, cars, and other small pieces from a Christmas village work great for this project.

There you have it! That should give you plenty of inspiration for your holiday decorating. Now dig in and make your space beautiful and unique to your taste.

Do you have ideas you want to share? Tell us about them in the comments or join us from your favorite social media spot and drop them there.

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Best Table-Setting Tips for Thanksgiving

Best Table-Setting Tips for Thanksgiving

libby penner unsplash

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, you probably have a lot to do to get ready for your guests—cleaning, planning, grocery shopping, cooking. You want the food to be delicious and the house to be clean and welcoming.

What about the dining table?

The dining table often becomes a hurried last-minute flurry of action. Grab some plates, that paper turkey centerpiece, and let’s do this! Then you sit down and think, “I used all this same stuff on the table last year. I should have planned this better. It looks pretty sad.”

Need some new ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table? We’ve got you covered. We’re going to give you a lot of ideas to wow your guests when they sit down to eat. And, you can tweak these tips to set a beautiful dining table for any event.

Every Dish has a Placetraditional florals karli

  • Only set the table with dishes, glasses, and silverware you’ll use for the meal.
  • Utensils are placed in the order they’ll be used. Put forks to the left of the plate, spoons and knives to the right (knife closest to the plate with the blade facing the plate).
  • Serving soup or salad first? You can place the soup bowl or salad plate on top of the dinner plate. If you have room, the salad plate could be placed to the left of the forks. The soup spoon or salad fork would be placed on the outside of the other silverware on the appropriate side (spoon on the right, fork on the left).
  • Place wine and water glasses on the top right just above the knife and spoons. Place the largest glass to the inside, moving out by size with remaining glasses.
  • Place the bread plate to the top left of the dinner plate, above the forks. Place the butter knife diagonally across the plate with the handle pointed to the right. If you don’t have room, rolls may be placed on the dinner plate with other food.
  • The napkin can be placed on top of the dinner plate or to the left of the forks. If space is tight, place the napkin under the forks instead.

Florals Take Center Stagefloral copy

Did you know Montgomery’s creates custom floral arrangements and centerpieces? From the floral room, our designers can create custom pieces based on your style, color palette, and table and room size.

You can choose the exact silk flowers you desire to create a signature look exclusive to your table. Or, you can let the designer take the lead. They’ll communicate ideas with you and work with your preferences until you have exactly what you want.

Montgomery’s floral designer, Karli Strain, says they select shapes and textures based on your style, whether traditional or contemporary. Want something unusual? She suggests the pincushion flower for a unique twist.

ESWHow about something sunny and bright? Try sunflowers. They add a burst of color and a big smile to the dining table. The brightness of yellow sunflowers can be contrasted using deep purples and brilliant greens.

If you really want to buy into the Thanksgiving theme, use a pumpkin as your vase. Add some ears of corn and maybe even a pilgrim or two for a traditional Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

Maybe a centerpiece isn’t your style, but you still want to incorporate flowers and greenery. Try staggering candles of all sizes (keeping the color the same) down the center of your dining table.

Napkins Soften the Lookkarli florals

Folded or not, cloth napkins add color, pattern, and a soft surface when so much about the dining table is all hard surfaces.

You could choose one of a hundred methods to fold napkins. Since space is limited here, check out this site to find some unique folding techniques. (Ever folded a napkin to look like a necktie? You’ll want to after checking out this site.)

Don’t want to spend time folding? Use napkin rings instead. You can find many options in a wide range of prices or make your own with easy to find items. Here are a few ideas you might want to try:

  • Use raffia to tie leaves, flowers, or cinnamon sticks around each napkin.
  • Tie a simple ribbon around a fancy napkin or a fancy ribbon around a simple napkin.
  • Bake small cutout cookies in appropriate shapes for the holiday (leaves or turkeys for Thanksgiving), poke a hole through before baking and attach with string or ribbon.

Guide Your Guests with Place Cards


Place cards are not always necessary, especially if the group is only immediate family. But the point of place cards is to mix things up and make the most of your guests and their personalities.

Think about who might enjoy sitting together to ensure conversation flows. Avoid separating couples. And, for the love of all that is good, don’t seat two people together who don’t get along. Unless you like drama. Even then, think carefully before pulling at that thread.

If you don’t need place cards, you can still make use of the idea of them. For Thanksgiving dinner, you could use a different leaf or animal shapes tied to each napkin with ribbon (think owls, fox, turkeys, deer, etc.). The possibilities are numerous. Make it fun or make it stylish.

Add some surprisesdeatiling x

The Thanksgiving season is all about fall, harvest, and nature’s bounty. Texture, layers, and saturated colors are the hallmarks of the dining table. Make the most of those things by featuring them front and center.

Try adding fruits like persimmon, passion fruit, or pears and vegetables like artichokes to play on the color and texture theme. Mix in pinecones, mini pumpkins, and various gourds to capitalize on the bountiful look.

If your theme is on the casual side, tuck a few woodland animals into your display. It becomes like a game of “Where’s Waldo” with little faces peeking out of the foliage just waiting to be discovered. You could even include a nod to the Plains states with a pheasant perched on top.

Want something completely different? Fill glass vessels (vases, hurricanes, votives) with layers of various colored dry beans, nestling a pillar candle in the center. Put three of these in different heights in the middle of the table with mini pumpkins, fruits, or veggies gathered around the bases.

Here are more unexpected ways to spice up your Thanksgiving table:

  • Galvanized buckets or other galvanized vessels add a whole new material to the mix (great for a more casual table).
  • Feathers create softness and a light feeling.
  • Use shocks of wheat tied with ribbon, lining them down the middle of the table.
  • Wrap a few yards of scrim (use the natural color for Thanksgiving) around the back of your dining chairs and tie with a wide, colorful ribbon.
  • Use canning jars filled with fall finds for a casual, homey feel if it fits your theme.
  • Cake stands, alone or tiered, add a different vertical element. Use modern or traditional stands to complement your theme and pile them full.
  • Mix and match dishes, layering chargers (large plates that sit under the dinner plate), plates from different sets, and adding colored glass goblets.

Now it’s Time to Enjoy

Your beautiful dining table is set and ready to go. The only thing left is to sit down with your guests, be thankful for everything you have and the great people in your life, and enjoy the view.

Do you have a great suggestion for decorating or setting your dining table? Share it in the comments below. We can all learn from each other. Our next post will be all about secret decorating tips Montgomery’s designers use to transform their homes for Christmas. You won’t want to miss it!

Transitional Design

Transitional Design

transitional style

What is your style? Is traditional style a bit too formal? Is contemporary style a bit too harsh? Do you feel like you like something in the middle, elements of both but can’t put your finger on it? The transitional style is an alliance between traditional and contemporary, taking the unique aspects of each and combining them to create a balanced blend of both.

For a fresh, tailored look, transitional design unites the simplicity of contemporary design with the refined elegance of traditional design. Design strategies in this style influence all elements from window fashions to flooring and emphasize clean lines, less color, and lots of texture to achieve a neutral space full of depth.

The base of a successful transitional design begins with the color palette. Subtle neutral colors create calm, relaxing spaces that are clean, uncomplicated and allow the other elements an opportunity to shine. Selecting white, tan, gray and beige may seem lackluster at first. However, when paired correctly, they become exciting, drawing you in and allowing your mind to relax and enjoy the space.

Setting foot into a transitional room means stepping onto thoughtfully selected flooring. Warm woods paired with soft carpets and textured rugs continues the goal of creating calm and depth. The evolution of design in rugs brings the homeowner more options in materials, patterns, colors and most importantly with this design style, textures. Various weaves, braids, and fabrics combine in infinite ways, producing intriguing patterns without the need for color and contrast.

Transitional furniture combines curves with straight lines, metals with woods and/or masculine and feminine features for a simplistic aesthetic that keeps the focus on the sophistication of the design. Pieces may be ample in scale, but not overbearing or intimidating. Mix and match minimalist pieces with more modern straight lines and carefully curated fabrics on relevant chairs, ottomans, and sofas for a subtle contrast.

Bring it all together with window fashions, lighting, accessories, and art.  Select simple solid drapes without embellishments or ornate gatherings. Go big with a statement light fixture and striking artwork, while less is more with accessories.

Whether starting new or refreshing your space, the transitional design brings your space current, blends elements from different styles and allows for a calm yet dynamic room.

what colors are transitional interiord design

transitional design

what does transitional style look like

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what is transitional style

Decorating in Threes

Decorating in Threes

decorating in threes composition

If there is such a thing as a “magic number” for assuring good visual design, it’s three. Artists and designers use visual elements in sets of three to help their compositions feel more harmonious. Left, center, right. Small, medium, large. It’s a series that’s familiar, balanced, and orderly. Three is important when it comes to structure, it has symbolic significance to many religions, and it has a natural connection to the way we process information.

As a design principle, combinations of three are considered more engaging and memorable. Our brains are programmed to find patterns and respond to proportions. Our eyes seek to keep moving. You can create this kind of visual interest in your own décor by applying the “Rule of Three.”


Arrangements composed of an odd number of objects are more appealing – a center point anchors the arrangement and the other pieces add symmetry.

Move larger furniture into groupings. Three pieces with similar visual weight will create cozy conversation zones.

Working with a standard shape in the room also creates cohesion. A round mirror, round table, and the curve of a sofa arm encourage you to think in threes.


Varying size and scale engage a sense of depth.

Three levels of height draw the eye into following a triangular path.

Using patterns of three different scales (small, medium, large) or motifs (plaid, stripe, floral) in a room adds dimension and texture.


A typical formula for a color palette consists of the primary color, a secondary color, and an accent color.

If you introduce a pop of color, repeat it in two more places to keep the observer’s gaze traveling around the room.

Layered lighting improves the color and ambiance. Most plans incorporate three sources: natural illumination from windows, overhead fixtures, and task lighting.

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