Liven up Your Living Room With Botanicals for Festive and Fragrant Holiday Decor

Each week, Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week, we look at tips for using botanicals to make your home supremely festive for the holidays

The holidays are in bloom—and there are plenty of ways to bring your living room to life with botanicals. 

Think pine and magnolia garlands draped over the mantle, arborvitae leaves and white dried flowers for a coffee tablescape or wreath with red berries and pine cones weaved in above the fireplace. Plants and botanicals can be elegantly included into your holiday decor to create a living space that’s equal parts earthy, festive and fragrant. 

“Incorporating botanicals is not only a lovely way of bringing the outside in, but also a beautiful way of marrying your home décor with the season,” Suzanne Falk, founder of her namesake luxury Illinois-based design firm, Suzanne Falk Interior Design, told Mansion Global. 

Mansion Global spoke with floral and design experts on how to use botanicals to add a little more green to living spaces this holiday season.

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Use your senses

Incorporating plants and botanicals into the space can be heavy on the senses, so be sure to select fragrances you love. 

“Some people do not like the smell of pine, and pine is the base of bigger arrangements [like trees, garlands and wreaths]. When we do garlands, the majority of it is pine, so if a client doesn’t like pine in their home, we usually go for magnolias, so you don’t get the pine scent,” said Emily Mathison, U.S. creative director of McQueens Flowers, adding that you can also add pops of color with dried fruits like orange peels and fragrance from cinnamon sticks. “You can also mix magnolias with pine or other types of pine that might be less fragrant. A lot of it has a very personal taste.” 

Then, she says to identify the areas in your living space that are ideal for hanging and draping greenery such as focal points like the mantle, a mirror, coffee table, window or fireplace. Determine what the proportions are and incorporate botanicals accordingly. 

Falk suggested incorporating small candles and pine cones with botanicals like pine garlands for holiday tablescapes or draped over the mantle.

Suzanne Falk

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Make Statement Arrangements Using Real or Faux Plants 

Pick your botanicals of choice and a color scheme that lends itself to statement-making arrangements. For a snowy scene in a standing vase, opt for cream white dried wild flowers, or choose eucalyptus bundles in green with red berries for a more color-driven design. Winter plants such as mini arborvitae trees can be placed on either side of the fireplace, or utilize just the leaves mixed in with pine cones, mini white candles and fake snow displayed on a tablescape or over the mantle for another design statement. 

“Glass vases with twigs and bright red berries on a cocktail table, larger windowsill or a fireplace mantle are amazingly festive. And it’s all about layering. A tailored winter scene always looks great near a window,” Ms. Falk said. 

While Ms. Falk prefers to use real plants in her holiday design schemes, she says fake foliage can work just as well, and not compete with the aroma of holiday home cooking and baking.

“An artificial Christmas tree can be a timeless addition to a home. They’re lighter, easier to store and don’t shed pine needles,” she said.

And the same goes for flower arrangements like a pop of red with faux-potted poinsettias or faux red berry adorned garlands and wreaths.

“Pinecones, garland and olive branches can beautifully adorn a holiday table without competing with the smells of traditional meals. There’s something nice about not having to think about your faux flowers during your holiday entertaining. We know they always look fresh and perfect.” 

Dried red berries add a festive pop of color to garlands or as a standalone statement piece in a standing vase.

Suzanne Falk

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Layer and Add Light 

For statement fixtures like mini trees or wreaths, add in pops of color and textures like burgundy colored berries and pine cones or incorporate red berries and green strands of eucalyptus into a pine and magnolia garland. Drape LED lights in garlands to really make seasons bright in your living space. Scatter mini candles in glass fixtures and spread them throughout a table wreath. Make the most of the greenery you already have around the house, Heather Maloney, of Definition Design said, of incorporating layers of light into herbal wreaths and topiaries.

“While many of these greens can transition from one season to the next, by adding mini LED’s and accent decorations such as colorful birds, metallic ornaments, or mini disco balls they add to the holiday excitement and cheer,” said Ms. Maloney, who designed New York City restaurant HOWM Cocina & Cocktails, adding that garlands of lit up botanicals also work well on tablescapes. 

“No matter what holiday you celebrate, light is an important element. Adding twinkle lights and metallic accents to add additional sparkle always makes for cheerful holidays,” she added. 

Create more drama by layering in colorful accents like mini LED lights to elevate a simple wreath hanging over the fireplace or small accent tree, Maloney suggested.

Upgrade a winter wreath with magnolias and dried fruits like orange peels to add in a warm color scheme to focal points like over the fireplace, Emily Mathison advised.

Hannah Travis

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