Dressed for the holidays
THE FRONT DOOR
For most homes, the front door is the natural focal point of a scheme. Use a combination of these ideas to give it holiday cheer.
Choose a minimum diameter of 24 inches.
Fatten up a cedar or pine wreath with materials from the garden, like wisteria vines, magnolia leaves, pinecones and berry sprigs. Alternatives to standard greenery include grapevines and boxwood.
Add colour with outdoor wire-reinforced ribbon. For a dressier look, try spray-painting embellishments in gold, copper or silver.
Or consider more unusual materials: Michael Renaud of Horticultural Design in Toronto suggests a wreath of juniper boughs and lichen moss for a stunning grey, blue and green combo.
To hang a wreath on a metal door use magnetic clips from florist, garden and hardware stores, which won't mar the surface (for glass doors, use a two-sided version). On wood doors, opt for a picture hook, or try a “cradle,” a long hook that hangs from the top of the door.
Beef up artificial or evergreen garlands of pine or cedar with additional greenery, or add natural embellishments such as pinecones, berries, or dried or artificial fruit.
How to hang: Snap the garland at the corners for a crisp turn. Screw small eye hooks into the wood frame and use floral wire to tie the garland down. On brick, use masonry nails to anchor the wire.
Battery-operated lights won't interfere with the operation of the door.
Greenery-filled urns can last a long time.
Hang a lush bouquet or wicker basket of dried flowers or grasses on the door.
Display an evergreen bough over a door like an eyebrow; attach pinecones, berries and silver balls along the length.
If you have a Georgian-style facade (a central door flanked by windows), go for the Victorian tradition of wreaths on the door and every window.
To hang: Shawn Gibson of Teatro Verde in Toronto advises hanging the wreath with fishing line from an anchor point, like a magnetic hook or a nail in the window frame (not in the sash, which can weaken it). To secure the wreath, hammer a second nail six inches to one side of the first nail, and run wire from the second nail to the side of the wreath.
Lighted windows look cosy. For a party, pillar candles on a wide window ledge add a festive look (keep away from curtains). For safety, put tea lights or votives in glasses, as Toronto-based interior designer Carol McFarlane does, or use hurricane lamps or lanterns.
Fill boxes with evergreen boughs, or as floral designer Frank Rea of Forget Me Not in Oakville, Ont., suggests, “plant” the boxes with closely spaced greenery, live ivy or hardy bulbs. Cover the soil with chicken wire to keep animals out; in milder climes, bulbs may sprout, especially if they've been forced.
Instead of putting lights on your shrubs, small white spotlights tucked underneath provide a warm glow; opt for red, amber, copper or green, instead of white, for a festive look. Uplights also look dramatic under deciduous trees.
This area is for family, and, says Carol McFarlane, nothing's cosier than a glance out the back window at a tree aglow with lights.
Interior decorator Marjorie Paradine suggests decorating an evergreen (cut or planted) for the birds. Hang suet and peanut butter balls, popcorn and cranberry garlands, and seed bells.
Other architectural features
Dress other prominent features in seasonal finery, too.
Hang a wreath on a front gate or a garage door.
Swag garlands along a fence, a porch banister, on the three faces of a bay window, or wrapped barber-pole style around columns. Add bows, if you like.