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From burlap to bling

Options abound for creative expression via Christmas tree

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 06:00 am

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  • DECKED OUT – Wide ribbon, mesh and large ornaments are the keys to this contemporary Christmas tree created by Kristen Guiltner, a stager for Sarasota Homes.
    DECKED OUT – Wide ribbon, mesh and large ornaments are the keys to this contemporary Christmas tree created by Kristen Guiltner, a stager for Sarasota Homes.
    APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette
  • COZY AND WARM – This traditionally decorated tree features loads of red berries, burlap and rustic ornaments for a warm and cozy feel.
    COZY AND WARM – This traditionally decorated tree features loads of red berries, burlap and rustic ornaments for a warm and cozy feel.

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Like most folks, my family and I decorate a tree every Christmas – often the lovely-scented real deal, but sometimes an artificial one if we’ll be away visiting family during the holidays. The consensus among retailers is that the vast majority, around 80 per cent of us, put up an artificial tree for the reasons you’d imagine: convenience, no fallen-needle mess and a one-time cost versus a yearly output of cash for a real tree.

“I just like to enjoy the ambience of Christmas as long as possible,” said Heather Wolsey, owner of Seasons Gift Shop. “I put up a tree in early November – it’s nice to come home to a lit tree each evening.”

Wolsey said it’s fairly common to have more than one tree in a home today, maybe a kids’ tree in the den and a more sophisticated, formal tree elsewhere in the home. While my tree, real or fake, always looks like a dog’s breakfast – a haphazard collection of ornaments and boxes of kids’ homemade pipe cleaner and bead creations – experts offer tips to help us put up a tree worthy of a magazine spread, and it’s easier than you think.

Sarasota Homes’ St. Albert show homes are decked out for the holidays, showing the popular, rustic-type tree décor, and another that is the latest in tree trends. At the home dubbed “lake house chic” Sarasota stager Kristen Guiltner spray-painted an old artificial tree in white, adding bits and baubles she found at local hardware and craft stores. In about three hours and for less than $20, Guiltner created a stunning, contemporary tree of silver, gold and watery blues.

“It’s about the ribbon and mesh topper – the wider the better – and clusters of large ornaments,” said Guiltner. “I made a big bow for the top and let it cascade down the tree. And I found big, white fake flowers, poinsettias and hydrangea, and clustered them on the tree. Add white pine cones, smaller ornaments of different size and textures, and we’re done.”

Whatever the look, common rules apply to tree decorating, starting with fluffing out the branches and lighting heavily from the top down, Guiltner said.

“I light every single branch, and I do the same with ornaments – deep inside and on the surface. That gives the tree depth.”

Adding clusters of large pieces is a designer trick Guiltner likes, ending with small ornaments to fill it all in.

“Don’t be afraid to keep going,” she said. “More is more.”

Sarasota associate broker Kristin Boser said clients adore the modern, cool, tone-on-tone look of the contemporary tree, but just as popular is the warm and cozy, rustic Christmas tree, with lots of red and green, natural textures, burlap and owls-a-plenty.

Wolsey said a great tree will have a good variety of product and a good use of colour, texture and layering. All kinds of owls, yes, and jewel-toned peacocks are gracing Christmas trees this year, but Wolsey said designers offer rules of thumb too: up to 25 ornaments per foot of tree, and 40-60 yards of ribbon.

“It’s about enjoying the moment,” Wolsey said, “whatever style you like.”


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