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Interior decorating tips for the holiday season: repurposed, sustainable and sparkly

This year’s holiday season is taking on a decidedly modern twist, with an emphasis on recycling and repurposing old decorations, utilizing sustainable decor, and adding sparkle to complete the look.

Shari Canepa, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), member, LEED Green Associate, and a member of the interior design faculty at The Art Institute of California - San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University, says that sustainability begins with the icon of Christmas: the Christmas tree.

“It can no longer be artificial or cut. Bring a potted tree into your home with the intention of planting it after Christmas in the yard. The idea is to save a tree and plant a tree, giving a gift to nature after Christmas.”

Canepa recommends creating a new focal point in the public area of your home to reinforce the spirit of the season. “You can do this with a tree, wreaths, special seasonal decorative accessories or lighting. Shifting the focal point changes your psychological relationship to the room.”

To design a new focal point, Canepa suggests an arrangement of various sized potted trees that can be conveniently moved. Create a mini forest of varying sizes and heights and decorate with lights and ornaments. “Supple evergreen branches wrapped around a stair banister with or without lights is also a nice addition.”

To continue the sustainable trend, utilize energy-friendly LED lights around pictures, ceiling moldings, desk railings, in interior flower arrangements or on door casings.

“Sophisticated or elegant interiors move toward white lights while energetic, youthful or modern themes make use of the color option. These energy saving lights make using lots of sparkle for Christmas guilt-free,” Canepa says.

Modernize the holiday by choosing a salmon and chartreuse color scheme over traditional red and green, mentions Canepa. “If this part of the color wheel leaves you flat, use the symbols of Christmas like candy canes, reindeer, stars, pinecones, stockings, candles and balls - but make sure they are other hues than red and green. Add white, lots of white, which adds pop.”

Silver, gold and mirrored surfaces are also appropriate and modern, as are neutral colors such as white, gray and beige when combined with shiny materials.

“Silver is the metallic accent that ties [this year’s holiday] colors together,” says Ann Durkin, part-time adjunct faculty professor of Interior Design at The Art Institute of Phoenix.

Durkin adds that this holiday season marks a shift toward textures that express warmth through materials - such as wood, suede and burlap.

“There is a strong desire for more touchable handmade or nature-made objects with a modern twist.-This can be an embroidered or knitted pillow covers, textured rugs or a burlap tree skirt.”

She advises holiday decorators to keep things simple and to showcase special pieces such as handmade ornaments. “There is no need to buy new decorations every year.-But don’t let the old decorations drive your design for the space.”-Be selective in how you will re-use them.

Durkin says that updating old ornaments can be as simple as repainting them with matte silver paint and affixing silver beads with a sheer silver bow.

Old ornaments may also be re-covered with fabrics such as burlap, to give an earthy hand-made appearance.-”This way you can still preserve the original look of the ornament, if it makes sense to use it again in the future. Think of it as a slip-cover for your ornament.

“The overall idea is to have fun and re-use existing decorations as much as possible by reinventing them,” Durkin states.

The key to this holiday season’s decorating: keeping things simple yet chic while matching your personal style. “Create a timeless ensemble which could extend beyond the holiday season and be used as the basic foundation for your interiors throughout the year,” says Durkin.

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