"Less" may be "more" when it comes to most of today's decorating. But that adage goes out the window when it comes to the holidays.
It seems every year the decorations in local homes only get more and more elaborate, said Laurie Kane, owner of Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington, and her designer, Jim Whitehead.
"Baby boomers are trying to re-create the sense of warmth and happy Christmas memories from their youth, so the multicolored lights are coming back, for instance, and homeowners are trying to bring cheer to every corner of their houses," Whitehead said.
"Homeowners want to see little touches of Christmas throughout their homes," Kane added.
So, they are creating themed trees of all sizes and shapes in many rooms of their house. There are slim trees in the corners, potted trees near the front door and even small potted trees along the banisters on the staircase. Gone are the days when there was only one tree per house, covered with an eclectic mix of ornaments.
"Once the kids are grown and gone, we are seeing more and more retail-style themed trees that correspond to the room -- like a food tree in the kitchen and a silver tree for displaying the vintage ornaments in the living room or dining room," Whitehead said.
Homeowners are also moving away from the traditional bright reds and pine greens in order to make Christmas better fit the color schemes and atmospheres of each home, Kane said. For instance, lime green is often seen today, as are flares of gold. And natural looks using owls, birds and other wildlife, along with birch wood, bark and moss, all enhanced with frosted icicles and sparkly pine, are extremely popular.
"This is not the log cabin look," Whitehead cautions. "It has a much higher design element than that. But people do like the natural, woodland feel -- especially in the family room or man cave."
He even decorated one "natural look" tree with nothing but birds, burlap ribbons and a few ornaments.
The many trees scattered around the holiday home today are often accented by 6- to 18-inch floral picks of roses or poinsettias or flocked branches with frosted berries and bells that are tucked into the branches of the trees to add pops of color and give a uniform look to an eclectic tree. The picks can also be used as a tree-topper.
And pre-lit, white-light trees are being enhanced by a string or two of the nostalgic large colored bulbs for a beautiful glow in one color or many, Whitehead said. The big bulb look is particularly popular outdoors.
"When it comes to ornaments, the more glitter, the faster it sells. People are in awe of glitter, even with the natural look ornaments. They particularly love our lightweight glitter ball ornaments in a variety of colors," Kane said. "And tinsel can add a magical little shimmer to a tree, but it is difficult to find."
Trees today are still topped with angels and stars, in most homes. But some homeowners are using ribbons and floral picks instead. And many are tying small ribbons to the tops of individual ornaments, adding an extra layer of decoration to the tree and unifying it.
"Layering is a big deal today during the holidays -- on trees, mantles, everywhere. It is a way to get a bigger look with the items you already have. For instance, tying unifying ribbons onto the tops of your ornaments adds another element to unify everything on a tree," Kane said.
Mantles and hearths are another focal point for holiday decorating.
"The pine garland is the heart of every mantle," Kane said, "and most of them are lit. Then we usually weave a soft cascade of ribbon through it and accent the garland with picks of something to coordinate with the rest of the room -- like berries or fruit or packages or whatever. We often also put potted trees on the floor on either side of the hearth and a large wreath above the mantle."
Doorways, particularly exterior doorways, are also often festooned with pine garlands and wreaths. New bendable velvet glitter bows that light up (if you have a handy place to plug them in) are becoming increasingly popular as accents on these greens, Whitehead said.
Whitehead is the owner of James Daniels Design in Chicago and is an independent contractor for Treetime during the months leading up to the holidays.
"Treetime hires me to design their store each year and I will also go into their clients' homes and businesses to get them ready for the season and give each of them an individual look," Whitehead said. "This is what I enjoy. I consider this my relaxation time."
He also designs and installs the decorations in the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare Airport each year.
Treetime Christmas Creations is located at 22102 N Pepper Road, Lake Barrington. The store can be reached at (847) 527-8880 or visit www.treetime.com.