This year, Avenue asked three well-known designers to show us how they deck the halls and trim the trees in their own homes. Using a blend of their favourite things and the trends of the season, each designer reinvents traditional holiday decor and offers some inspiration for rest of us.
Theme: Modern Christmas
Two years ago, Trevor Compton’s Christmas tree fell over – twice – smashing all of his ornaments. This year, a seven-foot-tall faux tree stands in the corner of his living room in Rossdale, tastefully appointed with silver, clear, and frosted ornaments, and lit with small white lights.
It is, perhaps, the most overtly Christmas-themed feature of the room, a modern-looking space anchored by two grey chairs, a white area rug and a chocolate-brown coffee table. Surprisingly, almost everything in the room is from the 1920s and ’30s. That’s because much of it is from the Art Deco era, which replaced the ornamental flourishes of the Victorian era with clean lines and flat surfaces. “It was very streamlined and forward-thinking for its time,” he says.
Many of the pieces were bought in Montreal, where Compton lived during uncertain times due to the rise in separatist sympathies. At the time, Anglophones figured they’d need to leave and sold off their possessions to antique dealers and thrift stores. Compton bought as much as he could, living on Kraft Dinner and hot dogs.
Compton’s holiday flourishes are subtle. Above the faux fireplace – a vintage piece made of plaster and straw – he has placed a classic garland. On the coffee table in the centre of the room, a sculpture of a nude woman holds a glass ball filled with white flowers and sprigs of pine. “It’s actually a 1930s ashtray. We sell ball vases in our store and it actually fit perfectly in the place that once held the ashtray,” he says. “It was a way to repurpose something that’s not socially acceptable anymore.”
But perhaps Compton’s favourite part of the scene is a portable bar, made of walnut and glass, where he serves his guests libations during the holidays – especially martinis. “It’s a really special piece to me – I’ve hauled it across Canada and back,” he says.
Before moving to Edmonton a few years ago, interior designer April King lived in a half-dozen cities across the United States. In all of these places, she sought inspiration from her surroundings.
Not surprisingly, when it came to decorating her west end home for the holidays this year, she looked to Edmonton’s winter landscape – particularly the trees, snow, and sparkling stars. “I wanted it to be sparkly and glittery like it is outside – but inside,” she says.
King’s living room – an open, airy space with neutral-coloured walls, furniture, and flooring – provides the perfect canvas for this vision. Because this is a non-traditional holiday theme, there isn’t a Christmas tree, nor are there any traditional holiday colours to be seen. But with so much light and sparkle, they aren’t missed.
In the large picture window, gold and silver ornaments hang, catching the light as they turn. On the mantle above the modern, understated fireplace, decorative letters spell out “Joy.” On the wall above, gold and silver stars, hearts and snowflakes have been mounted in the shape of a tree on the wall. The display is flanked by two modern lamps, adding even more light to the scene.
There are nods to nature all over the room, with small, gold and silver trees scattered throughout and the prints of owls on the throw pillows. On a sideboard, next to a trio of silver candleholders, an owl made of straw peeks out at the room.
Here, in this untraditional space, King finds Christmas spirit: “It’s all about the happiness and joy.”
On the subject of Christmas trees, Jenna Pryor won’t budge: “My husband is trying to get me to go faux, but there’s something about the smell of a fresh tree.” This year, like every other year, the couple – their baby boy in tow – will tie a tree to the top of the car and bring it home to decorate. “It just feels like Christmas,” she says.
At home, Pryor begins her yearly ritual of removing each ornament from its box and hanging it from a tree branch, ever so carefully. “I love the process,” she says. This year, her tree has been appointed with luxe ornaments, in gold and silver, and strung with delicate warm white lights.
While the tree goes up on December 1, Pryor decorates the rest of the room after Remembrance Day, each year. Her take on Christmas decorating is a lot like her design sense, more generally. “I’m classically inspired, so the spaces I design, I want them to feel timeless,” she says. To that end, Pryor’s furniture is a blend of antique and vintage pieces – like the crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling and the white lacquer sideboard – and modern pieces, like the slipcovered couch and tufted velvet ottoman.
There’s plenty of glitz in the room, like the gold decals on the wall above her mirror and the white wreath with gold ribbon hanging in the window, but Pryor shies away from traditional Christmas colours or motifs. “I’m not a reindeer kind of gal,” she laughs.
When the decorating is finished, Pryor likes to entertain – she even brings out her good china and crystal, precious as it may be. “I use it and love it when I use it,” she says, “but I breathe a sigh of relief when the party’s over and nothing got broken.”