Vail Design at Altitude column: Holiday décor in unexpected places and bold patinas |

Vail Design at Altitude column: Holiday décor in unexpected places and bold patinas

Yvonne Jacobs
Design at Altitude
Fun embellishments, like copper with bits of red, make the holiday season sparkle. Add white silk flowers to a coffee table for a soft burst of sophistication.
Special to the Daily |

’Tis the season for making our houses into cozy, festive spaces, ready for a last-minute caroler, a holiday reveler or even a lazy Sunday brunch with friends. Obviously, there are all the usual decor ideas (that we quite frankly love): mantels festooned with evergreen boughs, flickering candles in the windows, Christmas trees with sparkles and baubles, menorahs with candles and twinkling lights inside and out. Tinsel or garland? We’ll leave those big decisions up to you, but here are a few other tips to make your home positively shine for the holiday.


Go brass or copper. Use it in unexpected ways: a coffee table pleasantly topped with golden chargers, a copper-patina vase beside a festive-red centerpiece … bring the room together with pillows with brass-colored accents. Metallic leaves, pinecones and feathers are, quite simply, bold, unusual and lovely. One of the best aspects of decorating with brass is that it can feel so holiday without being too much: Add a bit of red to the ensemble, and it’s instant Christmas in the room.

Beyonce asked for a ring on it; we think you should put a bow on it. Spending time picking out a special gift is fun, but the presentation is just as important. Use a rich velvet cloth to wrap a gift and put a special bow on it. Or try a festive paper with plain bow — if you wrap them all similarly, store them under the tree until it’s time to distribute them. The house will look like Christmas without even trying.


The smell of cookies wafting through the air or the spicy aroma of an evergreen brings Christmas right to mind. Go a little deeper into foliage — that smells just as delicious — for unexpected bursts of green. Juniper bushes abound in the area, or dig a little bit for sage. The spiky branches are unusual in shape but look lovely on a coffee table. If you’re more the traditional sort, try fresh or faux poinsettias for instant burst of color.

If you’re more of a silk-flower enthusiast, try some heavenly scented candles in the fireplace. Use all different sizes with complimentary aromas, and your house will have that fireplace glow and warm, wintery scent. White bouquets go with everything during the holidays and add a little pop.


Faux or real tree: There’s little as special as watching a young child pull out ornaments that are special to them. Create a tradition by giving a different ornament each year. Glass orbs simply sparkle, and then there are gilded stars, golden balls and silver snowflakes — all that can make a child’s eyes light up with delight.

Dinner decor

Tree is adorned, presents are wrapped — now make the table center stage. There are plenty of lovely holiday-inspired plates and napkins, but we love thinking beyond the usual. Set out kir royales for an unexpected burst of color. Instead of two large candelabras, put various sized candlesticks along the center of the table. Go back to brass — use brass napkin rings, crisp, white linens and contemporary, clean-lined crystal for an elegant look.

It’s hard to decide just what the best part about this time of year is: friends, family, festivities and being able to liven up your house for the holiday just the way you like.

Yvonne Jacobs is the president of Slifer Designs. She looks forward to pulling out her holiday baubles and adding new ones to her collection every year. For more holiday inspiration, visit

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