Go Wild: look to nature for your home holiday decorations


Cleaning up a trail of pine needles across her living room doesn’t bother Michele Angello. In fact, it makes her smile warmly on the inside.

For intimately personal reasons, Christmas is easily the favorite time of the year for Angello, a former house flipper turned interior designer. She has owned Aurora-based Corbel Interiors with her husband since 2008, and she throws herself into decorating for it accordingly. The holiday has a special place in her family’s hearts and tied up her parents’ relationship many years ago in a neat bow, so Angello delves into decorating for Christmas more than the other two festive upcoming holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

“I’m a purist when it comes to Christmas; my father bought my mother’s engagement ring by tending Christmas trees and selling them, so if I didn’t have a real tree, I would hear about it,” Angello says. “We do real trees and deal with the needlefall.”

Angello relieves the stress of readying her house for any holiday — especially Christmas — by spreading the decorating process out over a long period of time instead of cramming at the finish. Her philosophy is it’s never too early to start anything, even addressing Christmas cards in July — “you already know the addresses, right?” she muses.

To vary the look of her fresh Christmas tree from year to year, Angello weaves different colored ribbons among the branches that change the color scheme so even the exact same set of ornaments look brand new. She broke out of a blue-and-silver streak with a period of blue-and-green and then experimented with an all-white look, throwing in a new set of balls now and again to really shake things up.

The same techniques can spruce up any artificial tree as well, while Angello recommends fresh-cut junipers or a garland from a Christmas tree lot — like the one her father used to maintain — to fill a house with the intoxicating, nostalgic scent of pine.

Other elements of nature provide Angello with her best decorating touches for any holiday, especially those in the fall.

Twigs, branches and leaves found out in the yard or at a nearby park add earthy touches — and can be repurposed with a light dousing in gold or silver paint — while miniature pumpkins, gourds and dried corn with intact husks sold seasonally at the supermarket accent any display.

“You can really strike a balance if you bring in elements of nature; even colorful leaves as they are changing in the fall in a tablescape can really soften all the manufactured things people buy,” Angello says.

If you care to argue such points, the pine cone makes nature’s quintessential decoration for any fall or winter holiday display. Naturally dried and hardened, pine cones can serve quietly as an accent to other fall items or command focus as part of a table centerpiece for all three major holidays once they’ve spent enough time in a sealed bag to kill all the creepy crawlies.

They can give a rustic feeling with their natural color or provide a touch of “elegance” when tipped with silver paint.

— Corbel Interiors, http://corbelinteriors.com/

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