By People Staff
November 08, 2006 04:00 PM
David Miller/ABACA

Vern Yip, a former decorator from Trading Spaces and author of Designing Spaces, offers some easy ways to transform your house into an inviting holiday spot.

Put away unnecessary clutter and organize. Store your magazines by title and stack them neatly. Put away your mail. You don t want your guests to see your normal, everyday stuff!

Here’s one easy way to give the illusion that you’ve redecorated your entire home: Add some soft metallic colors using throws and pillows. Try a cheery red throw with a gold pillow – it’s eye-catching and creates a festive spirit.

Another great trick: Put a large bowl in the entry way or on the dining room table and fill it with bright red apples (yes, real ones). It costs less than $10 and will last about a month. Best of all, it instantly adds a mass of red to your room.

And finally, replace color family photos with black-and-white versions in silver frames for a little sparkle and shine. Use the black-and-white setting on a color copier to reproduce the pictures for a faux expensive look that is both classic and nostalgic. If you’re serving a meal buffet-style, these photos will look great as a table decoration. Silver frames can be found at places like Sam Flax, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn or at even at Target! Having lots of family photos around will get you reflecting and reminiscing – and that’s what the holidays are really about.

Add an unexpected element with a simple branch display in an entry way or on a buffet table. Just add a bunch – no leaves necessary! – to a vase.

And as for plants, don’t limit yourself to the traditional poinsettia. You can make a room look amazing by infusing any bright, red flowers – just go monochromatic. If you are displaying poinsettias, do all red or all white. Don’t mix colors; it will make the space feel cluttered.

You can also take a bunch of square vases (all different sizes) and line them up on a dining table. Fill them with cranberries and get white roses (or any white flower) from the grocery store and plant them in the cranberries so only the buds show, not the stem. The white flowers really pop because of the contrast with the rich crimson background.

They’re not just for the tree! Buy several, inexpensive round ornaments, sticking to one or two colors, and pile them up in bowls – or hang them from the ceiling. (To hang: Put an eyehook in the ceiling. Attach fishing wire to the hook, and hang the ornaments from the wire. You can also use removable adhesive instead of the hooks.) For an even more dramatic look, I tie the ornaments to a large, stainless steel rod, then hang the rod parallel from my ceiling. I usually hang three rods in a row.

Put all your lights on dimmers and bring out the candles for a welcoming glow. Stick to ivory or white candles for a uniform look, but mix up the sizes with tealights, pillars or floating candles.

Another tip: Buy mirrored tiles from your local hardware store and use them as coasters for your candles. Or, you can get a bigger mirror and put it on your coffee table. The candlelight’s reflection will make your whole house glow.

Create a beautiful, original fresh wreath for your door. Get simple greenery and tuck in red apples or fresh flowers using wire. It’s about making it more personal and less commercial.

Remember, it’s best is to take a few ideas and go big and bold with them. Pick a color to run with and make a statement. Happy holidays!