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 spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog