Design Hints

Seasonal Simplicity

Sometimes a winter welcome means forgoing the typical red-and-green holiday color scheme in favor of a woodsy and rustic palette. As Robyn Thomas decorated her 1850 farmhouse she shares with her husband, Keith, and their children, she aimed to replicate the unpretentious lifestyle of the original residents, and her approach to the holidays is no different. “I think about what the house looked like then,” she explains. Here are some of the ways she decks the halls—including this enclosed porch—with homespun cheer.
Screen Test

• Go Natural. Take a walk in the woods (or through your local garden center) to net armfuls of Mother Nature’s decorating goods. Gather up pinecones, spikey sweet-gum balls, nuts in shells, twigs, logs, winter berries and the like to arrange in baskets and bowls. Fashion evergreen cuttings into garlands, swags and festoons. No woods nearby? Faux is fine.
• Embrace the Everyday. Incorporate household artifacts that suggest winter into your holiday vignettes. Consider sports gear, such as ice skates and hockey sticks; cold-weather apparel, including sweaters and ski caps; and baking utensils like cookie cutters and molds. Robyn stages vintage sleds both indoors and outdoors.
• Say it with Textiles. Instead of the traditional holiday palette of bold red, green and white, focus on the subdued hues of brick red, hunter green and cream. Accessorize with pillows, throws, blankets and towels in plaids, stripes and gingham checks. Drape tabletops with needlework and quilting. Textiles that are worn, even slightly torn, add authenticity.
• Get Your Glow On. Forget glitz and glitter. All the sparkle you need is reflected in twinkling lights and freshly fallen snow. Scatter frosted pinecones and snowflake and icicle ornaments. String or bunch tiny white lights. One of Robyn’s favorite tactics is tucking LED tealights into vintage candle molds.

Written by Pamela Dittmer Mckuen
Photographed by Gridley + Graves