Sim­ple and Sweet


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Kristin Dowd­ing

Dis­cover how to give your pe­riod home clas­sic hol­i­day am­bi­ence with dé­cor tips from de­signer Michelle Shen.

O ften­times, op­u­lence is syn­ony­mous with over­abun­dance, but that doesn’t have to be the case for your Christ­mas dé­cor. You can achieve a clas­sic, hol­i­day look with a few sim­ple ad­di­tions and take some of the stress out of pre­par­ing your home for the sea­son at the same time. Michelle Shen of AM Dolce Vita De­sign shares some of her tips to keep­ing her home so­phis­ti­cated, wel­com­ing and fes­tive dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.


The color palette you choose will set the foun­da­tion, and Michelle’s black and white base with gold ac­cents pro­motes a clean and el­e­gant am­bi­ence through­out her home. It also pre­vents her from hav­ing to switch out all her ex­ist­ing dé­cor, be­cause her hol­i­day palette com­ple­ments the ex­ist­ing one. “Black and white works with our liv­ing room’s over­all neu­tral color palette and eclec­tic style,” says Michelle. “It also re­flects my pur­suit of hygge: sim­plis­tic, noth­ing su­per­flu­ous, with no frills or any­thing over the top.”

How­ever, this doesn’t mean you can’t stray from the palette you’ve cho­sen. “Matchy-matchy is the last thing I would rec­om­mend when it comes to styling your Christ­mas dé­cor,” says Michelle. “Have a ground­ing color palette and branch out from there.” Go with the clas­sic red and green, or ex­per­i­ment with other color com­bi­na­tions to bring peace and hol­i­day cheer to your home. Once you’ve cho­sen your color palette, you can fo­cus on other ar­eas of the home that could use some hol­i­day magic. THE TREE

The first thing to de­ter­mine about your main tree is place­ment. You can con­sider where your fam­ily spends their time the most, where it will be most eas­ily seen or, more

sim­ply, where you have the space for it. “There is no rule when it comes to which room the main Christ­mas tree should be placed in,” says Michelle.

The foyer, for ex­am­ple, is a prime spot to place a tree if you want to make a state­ment as guests are com­ing through the door, but the liv­ing room may be bet­ter if you want a larger tree in a cozy spot near the fire­place.

Next come the dec­o­ra­tions, which can in­clude lights, gar­lands and or­na­ments. Michelle likes to start with lights and a tex­tured, but mod­est gar­land for a lay­er­ing ef­fect. “While a gar­land helps de­fine a tree’s sil­hou­ette, it shouldn’t be the fo­cal point of your tree,” she says. Her or­na­ments re­flect the room’s color palette to keep things co­he­sive and neu­tral, but the vary­ing shapes, sizes and tex­tures at­tract the eye.

Rather than adding more dé­cor around your tree, use what’s al­ready go­ing to be there as part of the dis­play, such as presents. Use wrap­ping pa­per with a sim­i­lar color palette and add touches of green­ery, small or­na­ments or let the pa­per speak for it­self. Not ev­ery pack­age needs to have frills.


Other than your tree, your fire­place man­tel is one of the main fo­cal points in your liv­ing room. If you pre­fer to make your tree the fo­cus of the space, keep the man­tel dé­cor to a min­i­mum, us­ing only a few spe­cial pieces to bring in the Christ­mas spirit. “Green­ery, a touch of that year’s color palette, and a few of my fa­vorite dé­cor ac­ces­sories are the key el­e­ments I used year af­ter year for my man­tel,” says Michelle. If you want an un­der­stated tree that flows with your space, keep the or­na­ments within the same color palette. Michelle con­tin­ued her black and white color scheme with the or­na­ments on her liv­ing room tree, us­ing their vary­ing shapes and pat­terns to pro­vide in­ter­est.

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