x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

House Doctor: Keep decor simple to help reduce seasonal stress

If you don't find last-minute decorating demands fun and festive, follow these tips to alleviate the strain.

While some people find that festive decorating close to the holidays puts them in the mood to celebrate, last-minute decorating demands can be an extra source of stress. I encourage a modern approach in both the aesthetic and the process, allowing for more celebration and less strain.

While many people hold on to the time-honoured trimmings and colours, I recommend a simple and contemporary approach, including the use of just one or two colours for everything. When different hues and finishes of the same colour are used throughout a space, the environment takes on a festive aesthetic. Garland, ornaments and decorative glassware in variations of a single, traditional holiday colour such as red, green, silver or gold, present a modern twist for any decor. The use of non-traditional colours such as blue, orange, pink or even black provides an additionally crisp and avant-garde visual impression.

For Christmas trees, monochromatic decorations, including the lights, make a dramatic statement. Mix in additional sets of white lights for an interesting contrast.

Seasonal objects scattered throughout a home help to create a festive environment without a lot of time and effort. Mixing basic silver or gold accents into a monochromatic theme quickly and easily makes a room ready for entertaining. Decorations with either obvious or subtle holiday references - such as stars, bells, angels, tabletop trees, bejewelled glassware, candle holders and abstract metallic birds - are a sophisticated way to liven up a home. Many suppliers produce clear glass or simple white porcelain holiday decorations that are never out of style.

With or without baubles, a collection of interesting bare tree branches painted in white, silver or gold and placed in a large clear vase on the floor can take the place of a traditional tree.

Since very few of us have a fireplace, substitute a buffet or credenza as the mantle, placing garland, candles and large vases filled with ornaments on top. As a complement or in place of a tree, strings of lights can create additional sparkle. Simple stockings in colourful and unexpected fabrics can be hung on the front with holders.

For table settings, start with a white tablecloth and add a decorative table runner in the theme colour. It can be further enhanced by a group of various sized glass vases filled with clear glass beads and candles. Highly polished loose crystals scattered across the tabletop provide an icy effect and an elegant detail.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.