Redefining "home for the holidays"

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • December 1, 2018

Photo: Ballard Designs.

Photo: Ballard Designs.

Full disclosure. My article was difficult to write this month.

As I began to work on it a couple of weeks ago, the horrific wildfires in California happened.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator obsessed with making our homes comfortable and beautiful, it was tough to write a holiday design article. The thought of losing your home and everything in it is almost too much to comprehend. What’s in our homes is much more than “stuff.” It is our past and present. Our memories. Our lives.

I struggled with it for a few days and let it rest. I had intended to write about simplifying your holidays and spending the time doing what’s really important.

And now that topic seems more appropriate than ever. To find some comfort in the midst of the holiday (and general) chaos. And it all goes back to our homes.

When I moved to Florida one December many years ago, it didn’t not seem like the holidays. Each year at about this time, I would set out to decorate every square inch of my home in an attempt to fill my house with Christmas spirit. I missed the white candles in every window, fireplaces and beautiful "real" wreaths and trees that were the tradition in Virginia where I grew up.

A few favorite decorations, some greenery and pops of red set the holiday tone as soon as you walk into this entry. Add these festive outdoor celebration banners for indoors or outdoors from Ballard Designs and you are Christmas-ready. Photo: Ballard Designs.

A few favorite decorations, some greenery and pops of red set the holiday tone as soon as you walk into this entry. Add these festive outdoor celebration banners for indoors or outdoors from Ballard Designs and you are Christmas-ready. Photo: Ballard Designs.

But a couple of years ago, it all began to exhaust me. So, instead of trying to transform my home into a Christmas wonderland (in Florida), I simplified. Big time. It all seems very much like the holiday season to me now. Just different. I realized that simple really is better when it comes to the holidays. I have had years to practice that philosophy in my own home and in those of my clients. I have grown to love Florida at Christmas.

There are advantages to a more simple (but beautiful) decorating scheme. It is prettier. There is less clutter. It’s not expensive or time-consuming. You can appreciate the quality of your decor rather than creating visual overload with too much. An added benefit: there is less to put away when the season is over.

Use what you have! Fill a bowl with greenery, ornaments or collectibles for a smaller entry space. Or use this lush Christmas greenery filler that fits the popular classic dough bowl from Ballard Designs. Photo: Ballard Designs.

Use what you have! Fill a bowl with greenery, ornaments or collectibles for a smaller entry space. Or use this lush Christmas greenery filler that fits the popular classic dough bowl from Ballard Designs. Photo: Ballard Designs.

Here are a few of my holiday tips for a simple but beautiful Christmas:

Give it a rest. For a year. Try leaving all of the Santa’s, snowmen and old, heavy garland packed away.

Instead, try a large wreath on the front door. I love shells on a twig or vine wreath. Or pretty greenery that keeps it simple. Something that says “Florida.” Trim with a colorful bow.

Give your home a cleaning and a little decluttering before bringing more into your space.

Use real plants. Poinsettias (red, white and pink) on the front porch, in the entry and throughout the house. Any fresh flowers work as well.

Do a fun, pretty holiday vignette in your entry to set the tone. This can be as much or as little as you like and depends upon your space.

Instead of huge trees that take hours to decorate (not to mention taking them down) try a couple of pencil trees that can easily fit into any corner. They are often pre lit so there is no struggling with lights. Decorate with only your favorite ornaments and leave the others packed away.

Use light green garland or strings of beads, ornaments, bells to wrap around your mantle, stairway or table.

Open the windows and sliders. Let fresh air into your home and enjoy the cooler weather.

Light candles or diffusers and put on some of your favorite holiday music.

Most important, do what makes you happy. If you have always wanted a pink Christmas tree. Do it. If you want an upside down tree (a concept I still don’t understand) this is the year. After all, it’s your home, your sanctuary. And this year, more than ever, we should give thanks for our homes.

Happy holidays from my Southwest Florida home to yours!

Photo: Ballard Designs.

Photo: Ballard Designs.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit

Have yourself a merry little (or large) Christmas tree

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and the Christmas tree lots are filled with trees looking for good homes!

If I had my way, I would have a tree in every room. As it is, I always have one large tree, a small office tree and some even smaller smaller trees that are part of vignettes that include an antique, objects from nature or some design element in my home.

That's why it was such a treat for me to spend Sunday afternoon at the final day of Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art. Created by area designers and businesses, the trees were,  well, spectacular. As were the table creations, gingerbread houses, ornaments and holiday rooms.

This year, I have encouraged my southwest Florida decorating clients to keep their holiday decorating simple. Gathering your most cherished Christmas pieces together rather for a display rather than covering every surface, makes for much more relaxing holiday home.  For tips for holiday decorating like a pro, read my article in the Fort Myers News-Press.

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Give your home a mini-makeover before the holidays

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• November 2, 2013

It’s the first Saturday in November and it's official, we are heading into the holidays.

That means most of us are beginning to take a look around our homes and beginning to make some plans for the coming season.

Whether your plans include lots of holiday guests and a home that is transformed into a Clark Griswold Christmas with reindeer prancing on the rooftop OR if you plan a quieter holiday with a minimum of fuss and decorating, most of us could use a mini makeover (for our homes) before we pull out the holiday cheer.

This is a great time to give the front door a fresh coat of paint and red is perfect for the holidays! Or any day. Photo: Pottery Barn


As a Fort Myers Interior decorator who helps lots of clients with their holiday décor, I always suggest a starting with a clean and uncluttered slate before bringing more "stuff" into the home. Let's face it, having so much clutter around whether it's for the holidays or any time, makes us tired. Some of my quick mini makeover tips for a big impact may help you to have a more peaceful and balanced home this holiday season and beyond. And that's what we all want. Right?

Make an entrance. Start at the front door:  Clean the mailbox. Invest in a new welcome mat. Paint the door (try a new color). Clean light fixtures.

Give it a good cleaning: Do it yourself or hire a service for a thorough cleaning before decorating. Include washing all windows inside and out until they sparkle.

Starting at the front door, your mini makeover begins with a new welcome mat. Photo: Pottery Barn

Lamps Plus makes it easy to select lighting with Sherwin Williams and Pantone shades and custom-coordinated shades. Photo: Lamps Plus

Declutter: If you only do one item on this list, do this one! Remove everything from tabletops and counters. Store it all until after the holidays.

Lighting:Every home that I make over is light deficient! Think about increasing your lighting: Use wall sconces to fill in the dark spots in dining rooms, hallways, bathrooms, bedside. If wiring is a problem: no problem. Use the swing arm lighting. With lamps, think pairs. Basically, you cannot have enough lighting. Favorite to add quickly: Gourd lamps. They are inexpensive and come in great colors. Favorite source:

Living room: This is a good time to add new pillows and throws. 4-6 on a sofa is enough. Don't make it look like a pillow fight. Style your bookshelves with some upright, some horizontal, add pottery and photos along with space for some holiday pieces. For a dark corner in the room or hallway, put a tree in a basket and decorate with white lights.

Kitchen: No time for a complete renovation but you can make some quick changes in the room that is the main gathering place during the holidays. Find new containers for flower, coffee, sugar, etc. and buy a pretty tray to hold everything neatly together rather than spread around. This time of year, we all need more kitchen space. If you don't have an island, create your own with an antique or flea market table or purchase a metal table that you can also use as a corner bar. If you want to add some sparkle, change the cabinet hardware. One of my favorites: colored class knobs. A good source: yourself an early present and add a colorful appliance. My favorite: the KitchenAid cheery red mixer from Williams-Sonoma.

Dining room:Create a holiday tablescape in the middle of the table that will work for meals and when it is not in use. Bored with your dining room chairs? You have time to spray them black and upholster with a fabulous new fabric! Set up a pretty bar with new accessories.

Master bath: Your sanctuary during the holidays! My best tip: Use a real rug (not a bathroom scatter type rug) in front of the sink. Looks great and will make you happy. Hang hooks on door for towels. This is a good time to invest in oversized towels in a bright new color. Same for candles.

Invest in luxurious, oversized towels to give your bath a spa feel during the holidays. Photo: Pottery Barn

Guest bath/powder room: Invest in a sparkly new light fixture or chandelier. If mirror need to be replaced, think "oversized." Favorite source: Home Goods.

Master bedroom:No better time than now to invest in new bedding. You will thank yourself when you fall into bed after a day of holiday frivolity! And to add a nice design element: paint the ceiling. A favorite: Benjamin Moore Opal Essence. Gives the feeling of staring up at the sky and is very restful.

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips and photos, visit

Holiday decorating tips: Make an entrance!

Ready or not Christmas is coming! If you are waiting for inspiration to motivate you to start (or finish) your holiday decorating, there are lots of ideas this season for easy and beautiful designs that will have you decorating your home like a pro!

As a Fort Myers interior decorator, one of my favorite tips is easy and inexpensive:

Start at the front door and take your door from drab to fab with a fresh pop of color!  Think greens, reds, turquoise (if you are bold). Remember, it is only paint, so don’t be afraid! 

Is your front door a little boring? This beige entry needed a holiday makeover!

Photo of beige door before makeover 

Voila! Turquoise door and new color scheme make all the difference for this holiday home.

Photo of holiday turquoise door after makeover


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