An Expert's Guide to Elevated Holiday Decor

BY THE SCOUT GUIDE December 01, 2022

As we gear up to deck the halls, we checked in with five scouted interior design experts to see how they are bringing on the yuletide spirit. If you’re ready to move away from the traditional red, green, and tchotchke-heavy decor, then you’ll love the understated elegance of this year’s organic, sophisticated looks. From bright and fragrant citrus garlands to wreaths strategically sprinkled throughout your interior, you’ll want to leave these gracious decorations up well into the new year. Here’s to making it merry, bright, and oh so chic! To find a scouted interior designer near you, browse The Scout Guide Directory.

Interior by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photography by Marie Flanigan Interiors.

Go au naturel. Nature’s bounty is all around, and Marie Flanigan, principal of Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, Texas, always opts for décor accents that have an organic flair and the holidays are no exception. “Depending on what suits your home, consider adding interesting natural elements to your garlands or tablescapes,” she shares. Her go-tos include dried and faux fruit, berries, and florals. In the room above, she used dried oranges to give a subtle pop of color against a very simple garland. The result? Decor that is seasonally appropriate and endlessly sophisticated.

Interior by Janie Molster Designs. Photography by Kip Dawkins.

Add wreaths in unexpected places. A wreath on the front door is a lovely and timeless option but why stop there? Janie Molster, owner of Janie Molster Designs in Richmond, Virginia, encourages her clients to add a statement making wreath like the one pictured above to interior windows or hung over large mirrors to add an extra dose of charm.

Interior by Burkle Creative. Photography by Sarah Linden.

Go ahead and mix metals. Antique finishes and mood lighting are having a moment this season. Javier Burkle, founder and principal of Burkle Creative in Dallas, Texas, plays off these trends by creating lovely layers with silver, gold, and brass finishes throughout his decor.  “I adore mixing metals for the holidays, due to the way they sparkle in the candlelight,” Burkle explains. To achieve this collected look, he suggests leaning on unique but coordinating decor, and lighting that’s all about ambience. “Lighting is key—dimming your chandelier and adding candlelight sets the mood and can create the perfect holiday feel.”

Interior by Marie Flanigan Interiors. Photography by Marie Flanigan Interiors.

Lean into simplicity. When it comes to adorning your tree, Flanigan notes there’s no need for over-the-top ornaments and decorations. “Simple ornaments in coordinating color tones along with thoughtfully placed ribbons can be a statement on their own,” she says. Her pro tip? Keep your tree simple, but up the “wow” factor by focusing on making your gift wrapping the star. She suggests incorporating mixed papers, ribbons, and florals into the wrapping and placing them under the tree early to create a handsome holiday vignette.

Interior by Burkle Creative. Photography by Sarah Linden.

Decorate the heart of your home. It’s inevitable that much of the merriment during the holidays will take place in the kitchen. Whether you’re enjoying a cheese plate around the island or tending to a roast with a glass of wine in hand, Burkle likes to incorporate the same themes from other rooms into your kitchen to tie the whole home together. However, he recommends keeping countertops clean to avoid clutter and focus on drawing eyes upward by adding garland and wreaths to kitchen windows, vent hoods, and the tops of cabinets.

Interior by Kathleen Varner. Photography by Robbie Caponetto for Southern Living Magazine.

It’s all in the details. Small, sweet decor moments are sometimes all you need when it comes to creating a fun and festive mood in your home. Kathleen Varner, owner of Kathleen Varner Petals & Props in Birmingham, Alabama, beautifully demonstrates this through her signature tiny arrangements (pictured above), that she places in unexpected and often overlooked areas to create a bit of whimsy throughout the home. Varner loves how these arrangements can make ordinary spots feel special, like cabinet knobs, bookshelves, and side tables. Made out of seasonal greenery or fresh herbs and an elegant ribbon, Varner uses floral wire to control the shape, along with a tiny bit of floral tape.

Interior by Jennifer Laraia. Photography courtesy of Jennifer Laraia.

Make magic with your tree. We’ve all seen trees decked out from tip to trunk that look like they’ve taken hours of careful curation, but according to Jenn Laraia, owner of Jennifer Laraia Designs in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the architect of the stunning tree pictured above, all you really need to create the ‘wow’ factor many aspire to are a few strands of lights and the right type of ornament. “I like to start with a great base of lights—my personal favorites are white cluster lights. Make sure to place them closely together and all the way back to the trunk of the tree, to achieve the look of a glow from within,” she details. “Next, add ornaments that have a reflective quality like metallic or clear glass balls. These are a great choice because they are usually inexpensive, readily available, and provide a lot of depth and reflection.”

Interior by Burkle Creative. Photography by Sarah Linden.

Continue the merriment in the dining room. Another opportunity for creating a cohesive holiday design style in your home is in your dining area. Burkle suggests adding small wreaths to your dining chairs, a seasonal throw draped over the back, or plush pillows for cozy comfort. For the table, he notes that additional greenery, like live magnolia leaves and fresh or dried fruit, are the unexpected touches that really make a room come to life for the holidays.

Feature photo interior by Burkle Creative; photography by Sarah Linden.  Marie Flanigan Interiors appears in The Scout Guide Houston. Janie Molster Designs appears in The Scout Guide Richmond. Burkle Creative appears in The Scout Guide Dallas. Kathleen Varner Petals & Props appears in The Scout Guide Birmingham. Jennifer Laraia Designs appears in The Scout Guide Knoxville