Outdoor Living
Dec 3, 2003

Dressed for the holidays

By: Martha Uniacke Breen

Dressed for the holidays Author: Style At Home

Outdoor Living
Dec 3, 2003

Dressed for the holidays

By: Martha Uniacke Breen

Creating a fabulous outdoor display isn't necessarily difficult. Whether you prefer a simple, elegant look or an all-out celebration in lights, here's how to design a scheme that has all the magic of the season.


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.

Wreaths
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.

Garlands
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.

Lighting
Battery-operated lights won't interfere with the operation of the door.

Urns
Greenery-filled urns can last a long time.

Alternatives
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.

WINDOWS
Wreaths
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.

Lighting
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.

Window boxes
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.

LANDSCAPING
Highlighting shrubs
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.

The backyard
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.

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Outdoor Living

Dressed for the holidays