Wonderful White. In design as in nature, no other shade on the colour spectrum is associated with elegance and purity more than this one. White is flawless with no markings, like a perfect diamond. And like black, white is associated with life’s magical pleasures. A bride’s satin gown. A cone of creamy vanilla ice cream. The soft, fresh blanket of snow covering a winter landscape. “I just love it,” says designer Suzan Sickling, who decided on white as her theme for the most festive time of year. “We don’t have snow,” she explains. “But we can create the magical feeling of a snow filled holiday with white, silver, and crystal.”
White is both uplifting and calm. It is the colour of clouds. White provides the perfect backdrop for celebrations because it communicates how special the moment and those sharing it really are. So, dress your home in white this Christmas and showcase the drama of this rare and wonderful season.
The centrepiece of the home at Christmastime is the shining Christmas tree. It dazzles the eye in white and provides perfect, pure illumination in the far corner of your room. White lights are just the beginning of the story. Suzan also makes use of old chandeliers by taking the crystals off and using them as ornaments for the tree. “All different sizes and shapes,” she urges can make your tree twinkle both day and night. Add crystal or metal hearts and stars to complete this beacon of light in the room, one that Santa will be unable to miss when when he arrives on Christmas with his cache of presents for under the tree.
Try wrapping all of your presents in winter white paper as the perfect complement to your tree. Not only does this ensure a surprise, but it also adds to the magical monochromatic theme of your home. “I buy newspaper roll,” says Suzan “and then I tie each present up with raffia or twine.” Beautiful things give us joy. And the pale, pure look of these presents is just mouthwatering.
The first image your guests will see when they arrive at your home is your door. So do something different this year instead of hanging a traditional green wreath. What better way to welcome your friends and signal that this is a special evening than by displaying a glittering circle of wintry diamonds on the door and the promise of wonderful treats and holiday cheer that lurk behind it.
A Christmas table must be special. And laying the table with white candles and a white table cloth is both glamorous and inviting. It will immediately attract your hungry guests to the lovely feast before them. The cornerstone of home entertaining is the ability to create an intimate, cozy environment for friends and family. A protective little cocoon for them which is a departure from the familiar. That is always exciting. The beauty of this home with its twinkling candles, pure design and deliberate “dressing up” of each room with blankets of white transports guests into a magical environment where they are made to feel special and delighted to enjoy a memorable evening of wonderful food, close friends, and interesting conversation. People always appreciate it when you make a fuss.
Sweets and celebration go hand in hand. “Home made,” suggests Suzan. Tall clear jars of delicious treats placed about the house are a delight to the eye and appetite. Arranged like this they take on the look of an architectural accessory in the home. It is not only little children who love to espy cookies and candy that are just there for the taking. Many an adult will find much satisfaction with this tribute to their sweet tooth.
Place mirrors strategically throughout your home. They bounce light all over a room which lifts the space and tricks the eye into seeing it as a much larger space. Mirrors also reflect all the glittery, sparkly crystal glasses your guests are using making them shine like gems as well as allowing everyone to see the Christmas tree whereever they may be in the room. It serves as a constant visual reminder of the festive nature of the evening. The glimmer of the tree is highlighted by all the chandelier crystals that have been given a new life in Yuletide season. And always have your fire place filled with burning logs, perhaps with a spray of rosemary on top or a pot of cinnamon and water simmering on the stove. All these ideas completely warm up the home, both literally and figuratively.
Make your lamps a piece of working art by using unusual and creative shades like ostrich eggs. Keep the wattage low and warm. Candles are very romantic and atmospheric, but you also do need practical, but beautiful illumination as well.
Make your place settings “pop” by adding just one jewel coloured plate or napkin to the arrangement. The glitter of cut glass, the elegant shine of your silver against a white background is beautiful in itself. But a contrast in colour like an emerald plate adds that extra bit of drama to the table and hopefully to the evening as well. Push up the volume on the impact your plate setting will have by finding unusual napkin rings like Suzan’s beautiful crystal flower ring (see page 38).
Suzan’s table centrepiece is a tribute to the season and to her creativity. Leafless winter branches sprayed in white are decorated with a festive shock of red. It is a wonderfully natural setting with the cardinals delicately wrapped around several branches to add authenticity to the image and drama to the table.
Conversely, a vase of fresh white flowers is essential in decoration especially in the wintertime. It is a luxury to surround yourself and your guests with a shot of floral displays at time when mother nature is usually asleep waiting for Spring. Leave no space untouched with festive and luxurious details. Fill wonderful silver and crystal bowls and plates to the brim with images of little snowdrops in the form of foil wrapped candy and cocoa truffles.
Don’t neglect the bathroom either. Everyone will visit this sometimes neglected oasis for some privacy so give them something lovely to look at like this beautiful silver tray. “I fill it with antique perfume bottles,” says Suzan, “and I fill the baby cups with flowers.” This is an eclectic collection of festive holiday pieces. Shining silver-like sleigh bells, mixed with crystal ice-like bottles.
As in all things, if you are going to do something, do it well. For Suzan, entertaining well is a combination of good food, a collection of interesting guests and the creation of an atmosphere that invites all the magic of an enchanted evening to unfold.