Natural, personal, and fun — decorating for the holidays with local experts

Natural, personal, and fun — decorating for the holidays with local experts

Family heirlooms, handmade treasures, and Mother Nature are on display as three designers offer tips on holiday decor.

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

Vintage and Rustic with Janise Saikaley
For Janise Saikaley, the holidays offer a chance to combine sparkle with nature

Janise Saikaley is a designer dictionary. Every piece of furniture and art in her extensive collection is considered and curated.

“As an admirer of British design, I love the tension between old and new,” says Saikaley, the owner of decorating store Uproar, which closed in 2020 after 22 years in business. “The sign of an amateur is when everything matches.”

At Christmas, she is excited to hang family heirloom decorations — delicate handmade glass ornaments — on a white-feather tree in her Hintonburg home. On the mantel, a garland of twisted grapevines, gathered on family property on the Rideau River, is studded with tiny lights. On the mirrored side table sits a young cedar sapling — grown by a friend who brought the seed home from Italy — in a Guy Wolfe planter. Across the room, a small spruce, decorated simply, lives in a vintage cast-iron planter.

Near the front door, an angel made by a neighbour from vintage lace and porcelain over 40 years ago, is perched atop a cedar-lined wardrobe.

“You can create all of this with a ball of twine, with things in your house, and from a foraging walk.”

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

Old is New with Andrea Hughes
Colour and texture define the ByWard Market pied-à-terre of Andrea Hughes

When you live in a log house built in 1864, complete with rustic stone fireplace and original solid ceiling beams, shiny and new doesn’t quite fit.

“My holiday decorating style is more natural, to go with the building,” says decorator, home stager, and artist Andrea Hughes. “I love to use my collection of vintage textiles to add colour and texture.”

Her artifacts include an antique beaded tribal hat from Tanzania and fabrics from her travels. For years, she created custom throw pillows with such unique materials under the label Bootsie Décor.

This year Hughes brings nature indoors, creating a green moss wall as a backdrop to her branch Christmas tree. Moss reappears in her centrepiece, which acts as a forest for cheeky antique-glass gnome ornaments and tiny toadstools.

“I just love gnomes — there is something magical about them. They speak to fairy tales and dreamlands. There’s no better time than the holidays to have fun in life!”

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio

Classic but  Modern with Julia Wallace
Extend the decorations to the entryway and kitchen, suggest Julia Wallace

Antiques, thrift-store finds, treasures found in nature are all great sources of inspiration in the home of Julia Wallace, an account executive with Ottawa  Magazine who doubles as an occasional in-house stylist. By turning used corks and small pine cones  into a Christmas tree — topped with a celebratory  champagne cork — and set in a silver bowl, her  family’s tradition of enjoying mimosas and crepes  for Christmas breakfast is made even more special.  

Atop the island sits a pair of antique brass candle sticks. On the counter, an oversized wooden bowl  filled with pomegranates, sweet potatoes, and pine  cones adds contrast to the creamy palette. This look  includes accents such as a birch-bark wreath, lightly  spray-painted pine cones, and twig trees dusted  with a tiny amount of sparkle to strike just the right  balance for minimalist rustic chic.