In Lindon, designer Stephanie Holdaway reveals 10 ways to create a holiday decor that’s as fresh as it is festive.
By Brad Mee, Photos by Rebekah Westover
During the holidays, many rely on red, green and a kitchfest of mismatched ornaments to deck their halls, but the owners of this beautiful Lindon home aren’t among them. They turned to designers Stephanie Holdaway, Joey Johnson and Rachel Folkman of Gatehouse no. 1 to help fashion a fresh décor and festive look for their family home.
“The wife likes pretty things: lighter tones, rich textures and a little bling,” says Holdaway, who helped shape the interior’s ‘traditional-with-a-twist’ style using furnishings and accessories that are as comfortable as they are chic. These same qualities inspired the holiday décor, and Holdaway shares 10 tricks her design team used to create it.
Gilt accents and shots of silver already added luxe to the décor—a mirrored chest, brushed nickel fixtures, metallic threaded fabrics and pewter trays—so naturally the designers built upon these sparkling statements to infuse holiday cheer. Ornaments included shimmering mercury glass pieces. “We love mercury glass because it has elements of both gold and silver,” Holdaway explains.
Keep it Simple
Decorations needn’t be complicated or costly to make a big impact. By simply placing shimmering ornaments in a tray that was sitting on a table, the designers created one of the room’s most eye-catching holiday decorations. “Use everyday accessories,” Holdaway advises. “Look around at the pieces you already have and then add simple hints of holiday décor.”
Dial Down the Decorations
When a space is as chic and serene as this living room, why bully it with heavy decorations and predictable holiday hues? Look to the space for direction, Holdaway suggests. A mirrored chest, subdued color palette and shots of glam inspired the sophisticated, unfussy holiday decorations.
Get it Together
Create vignettes and collections to prevent holiday decorations from looking cluttered and chaotic. In the family room, a simple basket contains a mix of festive objects, transforming them into a single focal point. Trays, shallow bowls and even placemats serve as simple stages for clustered decorations.
Bedeck Chair Backs
“We like to add elements of surprise and include fresh ways to show holiday spirit,” says Holdaway, whose team often adds holiday decorations to the backs of chairs. The designers attach ribbons, festive phrases, sparkling ornaments and even small wreaths with gift tags performing as place cards and party favors.
Create the Color Palette
The interior’s calming colors inspired the holiday décor. “The balance of warm and cool tones makes the rooms very approachable,” Holdaway explains. The design team stayed within the interior’s existing color palette to deck out the spaces and referred to it often when selecting ornaments, ribbons and accents.
Build on Art
Use paintings to create a backdrop for grouped accessories, transforming them from a small collection into a focal point defined by color and enlarged scale. A mirror can perform similarly and can double the visual impact of objects placed in front of it.
Festoon the Foyer
“A decorated entry announces the holidays the minute you walk inside and sets the tone for the entire home,” Holdaway says. Her team strategically staged the stairway with ribbon and garland and, in the corner, trimmed a tree with layered ornaments, ribbon and sprays of sparkling twigs and foliage. The look is captivating but uncluttered. “We add larger clusters of ornaments and then place random glass pieces that allow the eye to rest.”
Make Snow Globes
Transform everyday apothecary jars and glass bowls into oversized snow globes by partially filling them with mica snow and topping it with small object and ornaments that may include figurines, shiny baubles and pine cones.
Frame It
mantle wreath
Painted silver, an old ornate frame transforms a small holiday wreath into a large focal point above the family room mantel. “It’s a great trick that adds scale and style when decorating a big wall,” Holdaway explains.
Plan Your Themes
Before beginning, the designers defined the theme of each space and decorated accordingly. Mercury glass trees in the sophisticated modern living room, Santas in the casual, warm family room and folk art figurines in the whimsically decorated dining area. “It’s easy to become distracted when decorating, and a plan helps you maintain your focus,” Holdaway says.
Add Greenery
Staged in the living room year-round, this collection of everyday decorative pieces—vases, a brass urchin and a stone-based starburst—is instantly transformed into a holiday display when adorned with a simple garland. “Greenery is one of the simplest ways to add holiday cheer,” Holdaway says.
Go Faux
Use artificial greenery to extend the holiday season, whether on the mantel or banister. “Many clients begin Christmas decorating as early as November,” says Holdaway who favors faux pine and greens for fixed displays and then adds short-lived plants and flowers like amaryllis and paper whites for special events throughout the season.
Make picks-and-sprays
Create “picks and sprays”—bouquets of painted long-stemmed organic materials like cedar and fern—to fill bare spots in a Christmas tree and add layers of luxe. Use them to form a sparkling, sky-reaching topper for the tree, as well.
Repeat Yourself
Use the same ribbon throughout, repeating it on decorated banisters, mantels and chair backs.

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