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At Home for the Holidays

Dressing up for the season

It’s that time of year to, once again, deck the halls.

This holiday season calls for a scaling back of clutter to make room for a fresh new look using a mix of textures. Greenery, wood, metals, and mercury glass will set a festive tone.

Also trending this year are neutral tones of creams, white and black, and bottle green.

Two Wilmington designers share their inspirations with sneak peeks into their homes. Less is more, they say. Select a chosen few keepsakes from years past and blend in fun, natural accents such as tree cuttings in a glass vase on the table or a eucalyptus garland along the mantel. ’Tis the season!

Setting the Tone

BIG SKY DESIGN’s JENNIFER KRANER (above) started her company in 1997, becoming one of the first design firms in the area at the time to offer commercial design services. Five years later, residential interior design was added, and today Big Sky has a team of nine designers on staff.

“We are the biggest and busiest we’ve ever been,” says Kraner, founder, president, and principal designer.

Big Sky Design clients include The Davis Community, Landfall Park, hotels such as a Marriott in Winston-Salem, and residential clients across the state.

One client, in Raleigh, contracted Big Sky to put together a global-themed Christmas for their family this year.

“We’re using ornaments from all over the world, which will be great fun for their four children,” Kraner says.

She says she believes holiday decorating should evoke emotion. For her, it’s a sparkly, silver garland on her tree.

“That probably stems from my childhood. I’m a garland person,” Kraner says. “It’s how you look at your space. To me, it’s a mix of what’s old, bringing those traditional elements back every year, and where you are now in your life.”

Kraner and Big Sky team member RILEIGH WILKINS worked together to deliver a cozy, creekside holiday design for Kraner’s home. Warm candles, mercury glass, greenery, and sparkle.

Her advice: Make way for holiday decorations by removing everyday decor temporarily.

“We took down art that normally hangs over my fireplace and put a spectacular wreath there instead. Wow, what a difference! It’ll only be there for a month or so, but I’m going to enjoy it all the way through Christmas,” Kraner says. “Take things off the walls, mix it up.”

Christmas doesn’t have to be cluttered. Instead of using every ornament and decoration, rotate choice ones each year, Kraner advises.

Integrate natural materials with glitz and glam, and don’t be afraid to incorporate prints and plaids.

“I used one of my favorite patterned tablecloths,” Kraner says about her holiday tablescape. “It may be busier than what some people would want, but that tablecloth makes me happy. It sets the tone for me.”

Sparkle and Shine

A passion for design began at an early age for LIZ CARPENTER.

“My dad was an architect. I grew up loving homes and having a deep appreciation in the details of them,” says Carpenter, founder, president, and principal designer of LIZ CARPENTER INTERIORS.

Carpenter (below) launched Liz Carpenter Interiors in 2011. Today, her firm stays busy tackling everything from new construction and renovations to helping clients redesign their homes.

“I’m drawn to transitional style … traditional roots but current fabrics and fresh colors and unexpected color combinations. I really like using natural elements like stone (and) marble. I like to introduce different textures in the finishing touches,” Carpenter says.

Carpenter adheres to the same concept at Christmas. But, she warns against contradicting the existing color scheme and style.

“I don’t undecorate my house first. I add Christmas as a layer on top of what I already have going on, using the colors I already have,” Carpenter says.

Using holiday decorations that compliment her coastal blue and lavender hues, Carpenter elegantly sprinkles holiday festiveness throughout. Silver and blue ornaments are strung into her eucalyptus garland, and the beach is ever so slightly represented with a starfish atop a living cypress tree by the window.

“Christmas calls for a little sparkle; that’s always in style. It’s fun to go big for a season,” Carpenter says.

And, do pull out the sentimentals.

For Carpenter, it’s vintage silver ice cream bowls and mint julip cups passed down from her husband’s grandmother, her nativity set, and her kid’s handmade ornaments.

However, don’t feel obligated, Carpenter says, to pull out every container labeled “Christmas” from the attic.

“Probably my best advice would be to edit,” she says. “Don’t add in every single thing. Do what represents you now.”


To view more of photographer TJ Drechsel’s work, go to tjdrechselphotography.com.

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