Photography: Valerie Wilcox
Want to make merry more modern? It’s easy: Just look to designer Lisa Lev.
Think of it as holiday meets happy – a kaleidoscope of circles, stars and triangles in a parade of joyful colours. The look? Pure Lisa Lev. Every detail is precise. Every decision is clever. It’s an aesthetic that echoes the style of this Toronto house, which Lisa renovated and designed in 2016, taking the main level and basement (not shown) down to the studs. “She transformed what had been multiple dark rooms into one big space full of light,” says homeowner Leigh Ann Wayland, who lives here with her husband, Blair Brooks, and their two teenaged kids, Will and Elizabeth. “We loved Lisa’s style so much, we asked her back to help us get ready for Christmas.”
She said yes. But instead of holiday classics, such as reindeer, mittens and red and green baubles, Lisa opted for a geometric theme of crisp lines and curves to suggest trees and snowballs, as well as an unconventional palette to reflect the home’s contemporary design.
Lisa began with the white, orange and blue backdrop she’d created for the home’s redesign and then added a vivacious mix of new hues, including juicy fuchsia, vibrant turquoise and electric lime. The look is modern and fun, with simple unfussy lines, but it’s also unabashedly festive. The family loves that it’s perfectly suited to their style and a fresh alternative to hyper-Christmasy decor. Here's how the designer pulled off the look.
1. Pair the expected with the unexpected.
It’s tradition and innovation all at once. For this holiday scheme, designer Lisa Lev employed all the expected elements of seasonal decor but with original displays of simple shapes in fresh energetic hues. Off-white stockings are embellished with oversized monograms, ribbon and felt circles; on the mantel, a “forest” of cones painted in vibrant colours plays on a winter woodland theme; and the pompom garlands deliver puffs of fun that echo the baubles on the tree. The room’s year-round rug, with its orange and blue tones, is the perfect stage for this show of colour.
2. DIY for a kid-friendly feel.
Lisa made clever use of Nepalese paper garlands to lend a dose of festive colour to a plain white wall. But homeowner Leigh Ann Wayland loves them so much she plans to keep them up all year long. “It’s such a happy sight to come home to,” she says. Lisa also fashioned a Christmas tree-shaped collage of family photos, cards and artwork on a large bulletin board.
3. Carry the vibrant hues throughout the whole house.
In the entryway, an elegant architectural detail is decorated to set the tone for the rest of the holiday ornaments. Colourful embellishments, such as boxes, a forest of jewel-toned tree forms and a star garland in the same lively hues are repeated throughout the house.
4. Get crafty with look-at-me mini Christmas trees and stockings.
From the cardboard cones transformed into Candy Crush showpieces with a touch of spray paint to the plain stockings personalized with extra fabric, this house is teeming with one-of-a-kind merry elements thanks to Lisa’s craftiness.
5. Bring the colour scheme to baked goods.
Good news: This fresh look can be carried over into sweets! Each adorned with only a single icing hue, these simple circle sugar cookies suit the theme and are easy enough for amateurs to achieve (though these treats were made by a professional baker).
6. Place and hang decorations everywhere—like on the windowsill and from the ceiling.
The dining room window looks out to a brick wall, so Lisa constructed a pleasing view indoors instead. Cardboard and plywood trees parade alongside fragrant evergreens in pots that pop with happy hues. Suspended from the ceiling, graphic ornaments spin and twinkle from day to night. Playing to the geometric theme, garlands of triangles and stars hang in graceful swags.
7. Inject the tablescape with plenty of colour, too.
Skinny tapers in all the shades of the rainbow rise from a cluster of mix-and-match candlesticks, some vintage, others brand new. “In the daytime, it’s the candles’ colours that take centre stage, but in the evenings, it’s their radiant glow that catches your attention,” says Lisa. The graphic table runner provides a peppy backdrop.
8. Abandon red and green wrapping paper in favour of rolls in candy-colour hues.
It’s like Christmas in Candyland! The scheme of simple elementary shapes and vivid tones is carried into the gift wrapping, too. It’s a mix of solids and spots in a variety of configurations – and the only rule is to have fun.