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Holiday decorations with style
By DiAnne Crown

CORRECTION:

In the December 2010 edition of Springfield's Own Magazine, which published Dec. 3, the photo credit for submitted photos on page 46 should have been given to Buckley's Prairie Landscaping. 


It doesn't take a big budget or a big home to make holiday party guests feel welcome and jovial. It's all about the warmth of the hosts. Add delicious food, and you've got a successful party. But an over-the-top, lavish soiree takes one more special feature: big, gorgeous decorations.

Think oversized floral arrangements in beautiful combinations of colors and textures set atop pedestals. Sparkling ornaments and shining mirrors reflecting lights, and greens twined high where only a truck can reach. Miniature lights and velvet ribbons wound through bare branches, each the size of saplings. That's when the party goes from wonderful to, "Wow!" And that's where the professionals come in.

Surprisingly, you don't have to spend a fortune to have your home decorated in style. For a few hundred dollars, a designer can take what you have, add a little something special and make it all look beautiful. But put up enough custom florals, greenery, lights and decorated trees indoors and out, and the price tag can approach $20,000.

Most designs are somewhere in between, thanks to several talented Springfield decorators whose handiwork will set the stage for this season's most festive parties. Here's a peek at what to expect.

"Opulent but tasteful" is how designer Terry Castleman describes his style. From there, the possibilities are unlimited. The customer can design the project, or he will make suggestions. The materials can be from the customer's collection, or Castleman will go shopping. And the color scheme can be anything the customer likes. Left to his own taste, Castleman says, "I've never been one to do the trendy colors. Brown, copper and orange never thrilled me, and I'm not a pastelly person. I love traditional green, red, gold and silver.

"But I'll also throw in something that's a little odd, such as lime green. You can put that with anything and it looks fresh. And lots of natural materials. All different greenery mixed together looks absolutely stunning on a modern home."

Castleman enjoys using any natural branches, berries, leaves or blooms he finds and encourages his customers to do the same. "Use natural materials you can find yourself. Use things in your yard." Crab apples, juniper and locally grown holly branches all make wonderful decorations, as well as citrus, kumquats, "lemonleaf," purple liatris and other fresh materials. "Fresh bay leaves smell great and dry beautifully," he adds.

This year, says Castleman, less is more. "Pick one or two things to make a statement. Don't have Christmas or holiday in every single corner you have, because people won't notice it. It takes away from what you spent money on."

Decorate the fireplace, staircase, front door and tree, he says. But feel free to make it a little fun. "People call me because they want something to look like somebody did it professionally, but still a little whimsical. I come over and make it look special."

Homescapes floral designer David Sitko has focused most of his attention on retail arrangements rather than site services in the past few years, and he sees holiday tastes broadening every year. "When you see all the purples and glitter, you can really see how Christmas has changed.

"The Williamsburg look, with magnolias, evergreens, pinecones, winterberry, holly and nandina, is such a classic look and will always be there. It's traditional, basic Christmas. But the spectrum is so much broader today with new, exciting, vibrant, vibrant colors. Hot pink, fuschia, teal, purple and copper. Copper is very popular."

Buckley's Prairie Landscaping retail manager Craig Schultz closely watches styles emerge year to year and says this year's popular outdoor design element will be LED lights on trees and shrubs and twined in wreaths and greens. "The blue seems to stand out where the old lights never did, and they conserve energy."

Buckley's does quite a bit of outdoor decorating, Schultz says, providing early fall contracts, delivery service and decoration removal.

Indoors, white-flocked trees are making a comeback, Schultz says. "They're really picking up. They're very nostalgic."

Buckley's usually shows flocked trees with traditional ornaments, sometimes all bronze ornaments, and no lights. Or they may use blue lights with gold, silver or blue ornaments.

Christmas trees don't always have to be themed, though, Schultz says. "A flocked tree with all the ornaments from Christmases past can be just as elegant as a theme tree. In my house, we use clear or multi-colored lights and very few round gold or silver balls. All the (other) ornaments are different. I can tell you where they all came from. They're memories."

That kind of tradition is especially nice in homes with young children. "Keep the high elegance in the formal living room or dining room, and keep the TV room or family room as more of a children's area," Schultz says. Children can help decorate their tree, and when they do, Schultz adds, "leave their special ornaments head-high, where they can look at them."

Whether your tastes run toward the high end or the homespun, here's hoping your holiday parties are festive and warm.

Tips from Terry Castleman

 

  • When it comes to choosing a color scheme, don't just go with whatever's popular. "Do what looks good on your house, not what Barbra Streisand is doing at her house." 
  • Don't overdo the outside. "When you turn on your lights, the airport should not dim. And look at your decorated home from the road. If you still like it, it's good."
  • Do make sure your front porch is actually lit. Use a dimmer switch to make sure people aren't blinded by spotlights coming or going.
  • Use locally grown holly for outdoor decorations. Tropically grown holly turns black when it gets too cold.
  • Save money by remaking previous years' artificial decorations. "I'll rip it apart, redo it and add to it. You should be able to reuse decorations for three to five years."

 

 

Story published Friday, December 3, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 7 )

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