By Mary Carol Garrity
Want to achieve a big visual impact in seasonal decorating with minimal effort? The answer is above your head: your light fixtures. Chandeliers offer a brilliant stage for awe-inspiring displays that will take seasonal decorating to the next level. You can do as much or as little as you want and still get great results. You just have to know a few tricks of the trade.
1. Branch out: The first place I tackle when I decorate my home for fall and winter is the dining-room chandelier. Through the years, I’ve had a blast as I’ve tried different approaches. There are times I’ve gone a bit crazy. Once, I used my chandelier as the anchor for a huge canopy of pine branches, which extended out into the dining room, then dangled ornaments and ribbons from the boughs so it looked as if you were dining under a Christmas tree. Other times, I’ve simply twisted a few seasonal greens around the arms of the fixture and called it good.
Before you begin, decide whether you want to create a display that is big and showy, or one that is super-simple. Then pull out a ladder, line up your decorating tools and start having fun. (Just be very careful as you navigate the ladder!)
Speaking of securing branches to the fixture …
Sometimes I leave the branches long so they reach far out into the room, creating airy, organic arrangements. Other times, I trim the twigs tightly so the fixture display will be dense. We’ve experimented with different ways to secure branches to fixtures, and have found that clear zip ties work best. They are strong enough to hold just about everything yet don’t show.
2. Entwine some vine: When we decorate light fixtures at Nell Hill’s, we always include lifelike seasonal garland and picks. Our goal is to use the faux vines, leaves, berries and grasses to create a suspended bouquet that mimics nature.
First, spend a few minutes fluffing out the garland and picks, twisting and shaping them so they look lifelike. This small investment of time will make all the difference in the finished look. Then, weave the vines in and out of the arms and chain of the fixture, willy-nilly, so it doesn’t look fussy or staged. If you are using fallen branches, twist and loop the faux greens up and around the twigs and the fixture itself so they look like they just grew there on their own.
Depending upon your preference, you can make the display open and airy, with tendrils of vines looping free, jutting up and hanging down. Or, you can keep the vines and picks closer to the fixture.
3. Dangle some baubles: There is something sort of magical about being able to walk under a canopy of beautiful things, woven together in a multilayered tapestry. You can create a dramatic result at home by dangling treasures from your light fixture.
We once swirled bare honeysuckle vines around the fixture, then hung clear glass prisms from the vine using white satin ribbons.
Get creative when dreaming up baubles you can hang from your own fixture. Christmas-tree ornaments are perfect. So are hanging glass votive cups holding battery-operated tea lights or fresh flowers.
4. Finish with finesse: Once your branches and greens are up and secured, add a few finishing touches. Seasonal ribbons are the fastest, easiest way to weave in a bit of color and texture.