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Covet Noir (Photo: Taran Wilkhu)

Holiday decorating for minimalists

While your days may be merry and bright, interiors are looking distinctly minimalist and modern this festive season.

Traditionally associated with vibrant red and green hues, mountains of tinsel and bright lights galore, it’s often assumed that decking your halls for the holidays is at odds with minimalism. This year, however, with both the cost-of-living crisis hitting homeowners hard and 2022’s Japandi still going strong, the Instagram-friendly interiors trend is lending itself to cosy, festive spaces that are both chic and stylish.

“This year, it’s all about creating fewer and more considered arrangements in the main areas of our homes to create festive focal points that provide that all-important cosy holiday vibe,” Maria Lindgren, co-founder of London-based interior design studio Covet Noir tells Effect. “One big pro of a minimal and timeless Christmas aesthetic is that it won’t clash with your existing colour palette and furniture, and instead will simply create a festive version of your home.”

What’s more, minimal and timeless decorations will last for years, meaning that they will have memories attached to them, creating sentimental moments and excitement when bringing them back out of storage. “It’s less wasteful than changing your decorations and following new trends every year too,” she adds.

Suddenly being faced with a December influx of decorations can be a bit jarring. As such, my Christmas decorations are carefully considered.

Katrine Martensen-Larsen, interior stylist and author

Decorations don’t need to be show-stopping, nor crowd your space, to still feel festive, and whether you’re adorning a smaller space or simply want to enhance your already minimal home aesthetic, there are plenty of ways to keep your festive decor lowkey and modern, and there’s not an inflatable Santa in sight. “As an aesthete, I love the look and feel of my home on a daily basis,” Katrine Martensen-Larsen, interior stylist and author of The Christmas Season created by Scandinavian Artists tells Effect. “So, suddenly being faced with a December influx of decorations can be a bit jarring. As such, my Christmas decorations are carefully considered – they must add something rather than just cause unnecessary mess or distraction.”

“Simplicity is key” – minimalist holiday decorating, from “The Christmas Season created by Scandinavian Artists

First things first – simplicity is key. “In Scandinavia we take great pride in creating homes that exude a modest simplicity in a sincere devotion to the craft and the ambition to work with high quality materials,” explains Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, founding partner of Norm Architects. “Christmas time is no different – it’s a way to be mindful when creating the outline of our everyday lives.” As such, do like the Scandinavians do and stick to simple and natural displays of greenery, plants, fruits and winter branches. A natural garland made of pinecones and branches, for example, effectively highlights mantles and doorframes, while candles, forested foliage, antique decorations and cracked glass baubles can also make beautiful arrangements.

READ: 6 interior designers reveal their festive decorating secrets

Alternatively, why not take inspiration from your day-to-day life to create a laidback aesthetic without all the fuss? “I find plenty of inspiration on my daily dog walks, where I look about and wonder how I can incorporate nature into our home,” agrees Martensen-Larsen. “For example, ivy has charming flowers at this time of year, so I cut them into small strands and apply them as dinner napkin ring ties. Spraying them with a touch of gold or silver makes for an even more festive look.”

City townhouse with a warm, minimalist aethetic in Effect Magazine
City townhouse with a warm, minimalist aesthetic (Photo courtesy of Neptune)

A defining essence of a minimalist aesthetic, a neutral and natural colour palette lends itself perfectly to a pared-back festive set-up, while soft metallics add a touch of glamour. “I’m personally not that keen on an overabundance of red,” says Martensen-Larsen. “I tend to go for more muted tones when I decorate.” Case in point? She points to the hues of dried hydrangeas. “The most beautiful muted and delicate purples look delightful against the teal wall colours of our dining room.”

Adele Lonergan, who founded Covet Noir alongside Lindgren agrees, adding that winter whites and soft neutrals never go out of style. “Less is most definitely more when it comes to this trend,” she says. “Stick with one colour scheme for your home and include a mix of textures and materials rather than colours. Mixing warm antique white paper baubles in combination with mercury baubles and velvet ribbons creates an elegant yet festive Christmas feel.”

Holiday decorating interior design in Effect Magazine
A neutral and natural colour palette lends itself perfectly to a pared-back festive set-up, while soft metallics add a touch of glamour (Photo: Benjamin Moore)

Adding interest through winter-friendly materials and textures is another sure-fire way to create a cosy winter atmosphere without overdoing it on the decor. This could be as simple as throwing a sheepskin over a chair or adding wool or cashmere throws and cushions to a sofa.

“Velvet ribbons for baubles and hand-tied bows for the Christmas trees are my go-to,” says Lindgren. “Lambswool and cashmere blankets warm up your home interior and create a perfect excuse for a moment of slow living during the holiday season. Sheepskins can be used as rugs but also as a throw for a sofa or armchair for an instant uplift in warmth and cosiness.”

Last but not least, using plenty of lighting and lots of candles to set the mood will add an air of elegance to any festive set-up, and it’s simple and easy to achieve. “Denmark has a strong tradition of the use of candlelight in our decor,” explains Martensen-Larsen. “Our family is no exception to this rule. Outside, there are fairy lights on a gorgeous Christmas tree shaped tree. However, the actual Christmas tree does not come indoors until a few days before Christmas Eve – and stays there for no more than a week. Before New Year’s Eve, it’s outside again!”

Opt for ambient mood lighting with warm white fairy lights which can be used both indoors and outdoors, while lots of real candles in antique candleholders can create a festive focal point on your mantlepiece or add drama to the dining table set-up by creating a long centrepiece with candlesticks in different heights and shapes. “Stick to one finish of the candlesticks to keep it more considered and in keeping with the overall scheme of your home,” concludes Lonergan. “And you can’t beat an open fire either – it exudes the ultimate Christmas feeling.”