With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas around the corner, holiday cheer is spreading all around us. Everywhere you look, wreaths adorn entryways and lights are strung through the trees, malls are decorated floor to ceiling and even street lamps display red ribbons and bows. It seems that everyone is busy with holiday decorating – and it’s time to start! But where to begin?
For those of us living in apartments, space limitations and lack of certain traditional elements, such as a front yard or fireplace, can sometimes make holiday decorating feel like a difficult task.
No need to worry – there are a few simple yet effective ways that apartment dwellers can quickly and easily decorate for the holidays without sacrificing on space or tradition.
Switch It Up
One of the easiest ways to save space while decorating is to replace existing décor with seasonal or holiday-themed items. For example, many people place bowls or trays on their coffee and dining tables, often filling them with artificial fruits, flowers or other decorative objects. These existing items can be easily exchanged for seasonal accents such as pinecones, jingle bells, dreidels, or holly branches.
Neutral candles can be replaced with colored ones (even scented, depending on your taste!) and accent pillows and throw blankets can be exchanged for holiday-themed prints and patterns. Seasonal tablecloths, hand towels and door mats are other easily transitioned items that allow for simple but fun textile changes.
If you’re feeling crafty, try replacing existing photos in frames with holiday greeting cards or festive fabric. Similarly, many stores now offer seasonally-themed stick-on wall art that can be temporarily placed in a child’s bedroom or play area.
By replacing existing décor, a smaller space can remain uncluttered while still feeling festive. Even better, many of these seasonal accent items can be easily stored in containers that fit well into a closet or designated storage space, further maximizing use of space after the holidays.
Spice It Up
Many people have holiday design traditions that they don’t want to forego but aren’t very fitting for an apartment setting – often because of space restrictions or the apartment’s structural layout. However, with a little bit of creativity, these traditions can still be enjoyed in a modified and innovative way.
For example, most apartments can’t accommodate a seven-foot Christmas tree. And while some can easily opt for a smaller tree, some living rooms may not offer the floor space required, regardless of ceiling height. In these instances, an alternative is to use push pins on a blank wall and string lights between them in the shape of a tree. You can even add peel-off ornament decals to the wall for a greater effect.
Lacking a fire place should not result in a “bah humbug” feeling. Items like wreaths and stockings can be hung from china cabinets, media consoles or other pieces of furniture when a fireplace is absent. Lights can be strung on patio railings to add a bit of shine and sparkle. Additionally, you can make your own holiday card garland by using clothes pins to attach cards to decorative twine that is stretched across a wall.
When striving to make the holidays your own, these simple modifications allow apartment dwellers to put an easy spin on cherished design traditions.
Spread the Cheer
Another great way to create a festive holiday atmosphere is to ensure that the décor is spread throughout the entire apartment. Rather than confining decorations and design elements to one or two rooms, it is best to sprinkle accents throughout the space.
For example, holiday soaps or bath linens can extend the decorations to the kitchen and bathrooms. Seasonally-themed bed sheet patterns can add to the excitement of a child’s (or adult’s) bedroom. Flameless candles (because fire safety is especially important during the holidays) can be placed in bedrooms to create a festive yuletide glow.
Another easy way to spread the festive feel throughout the apartment is to expand seating areas beyond their traditional confines. For example, if you’re hosting a holiday dinner but only have a dining table that seats four, you can position placemats at the breakfast bar, coffee table, or other surfaces to provide a modified seating arrangement. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with warm weather year-round, you can even consider extending the seating to your patio.
There are a number of ways to integrate holiday décor into any living space, no matter the size or layout. These simple and effective interior decorating tactics are only the beginning to achieving a welcoming and celebratory design. All living spaces have plenty of room for creativity and there is no better time than the holidays to test out new and fun design ideas.
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Darla Dillon is the Director of Interior Design for Cortland Partners, a full service multifamily real estate investment and management firm located in Atlanta, Ga. She is responsible for leading the company’s design team in creating the design model of residential units, amenity spaces, and exterior living areas for the firm’s entire portfolio.