Decorating For Winter

Christmas has a peculiar relationship with winter. It’s wintry December, but more than that it’s the holiday season. And as the trees become bare and the cloudy skies and chilling temperatures roll in, most of us don’t notice it because of the lights and decorations, brightness and cheer of the holidays.

Then comes January 1st, the lights come down and we suddenly look around at how gray and somber everything is, how short the days are, how the lights all seem to have gone out.

TVT_2804“It’s part of the Seasonal Affective Syndrome – SAD,” says interior decorator Jason Jennings, “an apt description for people’s moods this time of year.”

So Jennings, who spends a good portion of the months of October and November putting up clients’ Christmas presentations, then turns around in January and decorates for winter. He takes down the things that scream “Christmas” – like Santas and elves – but keeps those snowflakes and icicles that remain appropriate through January and February.

His client Susan has an affinity for nature year-round, loving the big windows and broad views in her Indian Hills Estate home. She has filled the space with a neutral palette that is brightened up with nature’s colors, like grass green and sky blue.

TVT_2809Mostly, she wants to bring the outside in, and Jennings has done that, year-round, with bright, reflective surfaces that are also perfect winter choices. Shiny metal, mirrored finishes and glass bounce the sunlight around the house.

Some of that comes from the Christmas baubles that remain in the house after the Santas, stockings and sparkly reindeer are put away. He doesn’t put the trees away in Susan’s house, though. The ribbons and angels are taken down, but the small white lights remain to sparkle up the greenery.

“I love the tree standing in the living room with its white lights,” Susan says. “It was a Christmas tree, it’s a winter tree. It brings the outside in. It’s light, it’s nature.”

The snowflakes, garlands and stars that lit up the tree in December stay up all winter, too, because “what’s more wintry than a snowflake?” Jennings asks. There are snowflakes and stars hanging from chandeliers, and garlands placed in bowls and dishes. The garlands lend that wintry evergreen mood to the house.

A plastic silver star from Scout hangs in the foyer. “It has such a modern, cool piece-of-art look,” says Jennings. There’s also a wooden snowflake mobile hanging in the lower level staircase.

TVT_2818A regal stag head on the wall has been wrapped with a wreath around its neck along with strands of Susan’s pearls. Similarly, a horsehead on the wall in the den has been adorned with magnolia leaves, ribbons and more pearls. And a Roman bust in the foyer is accessorized with tree lights and, yes, pearls. “The pearls were Jason’s idea,” says Susan. “It lends everything some extra sparkle.”

Strands of birchwood snowflakes with crystals hang from a living room chandelier.

Many of the ornaments aren’t stored, either. Jennings places them judiciously in bowls and planters for their color and reflective characteristics.

On a tabletop in Susan’s kitchen/den, Jennings has placed an arrangement of paperwhites in a silver bowl with silver mirrored mercury ornaments. Another planter contains floral picks with crystals. On the kitchen table, always set for dinner for eight, sit three white amaryllis in planters. And Jennings has fashioned napkin rings out of turquoise poinsettias and peacock feathers.

The white tree in Susan’s master bedroom sparkles with white lights and white birds. Even in the guest bathroom, a crystal chandelier has been accessorized with three turtle doves and gold acanthus leaves.

“With certain things here and there, you can keep the house bright and cheery when winter is so dark and gray, with little sunlight,” she says.

Outside, too. On the back porch, electric candles with white pine and blue sparkly garlands burn at night. There’s a rosemary bush in a white planter with turquoise ornaments. And in a cozy brick courtyard, little white lights sparkle on the fence alongside little wintry trees that will be replaced by hostas in the spring.

In the spring, Jennings will be back to reset the décor, taking down the garlands and snowflakes and introducing apple green to the changing seasonal palette. The splendor of that blossoming season will remain through the summer, with only very slight alterations, until the fall. Then will come the burnt oranges of autumn, to be followed by Christmas.

Turn. Turn. Turn.

Jennings says more and more of his clients are asking him to make these seasonal adjustments. We’ll revisit Susan’s house with Jennings in the spring, to show you what he’s done in this space.

In the meantime, to contact the designer about what he can do in your house, e-mail him at jasonjennings36@yahoo.com. VT 

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune