Planning to welcome not just friends and family but also potential buyers into your home this winter season? If so, it might be time to rethink your approach to holiday decor. The right seasonal accents can help to showcase gathering spaces like your living room, dining room, and entryway—provided you keep the vibe uncluttered and the color scheme understated. “Reflect the season, not the holiday,” advises Francesco Bilotto, a celebrity design expert and TV contributor. That means packing away the colored lights in favor of white ones, and skipping Santa, mangers, menorahs, and dreidels in favor of candles, greenery, berries, and branches to create a look that’s sophisticated yet warm and inviting. —by Amy Nebens
If you plan on having a tree, choose the right size for your space (no bases or branches so wide they dwarf the room) and place it in an unobtrusive corner. Keep trimmings understated. Use white lights rather than colored ones and avoid an overcrowded hodgepodge of ornaments. If possible, stick to a simple color scheme that echoes the room’s dominant colors.
Flickering candlelight makes decorating magic in any space. Use one size of white pillars or alternating heights. (Avoid red, blue, and other shades associated with specific holidays.) Put them on the mantel, in the center of the dining table, or on a table in the entryway. Or set them on a silver tray to double their reflective quality.
Tailor floral touches to potential buyers. In a suburban setting with family homes, flowers such as poinsettias, winter berries, and red roses tend to work well. For an urban apartment, glam it up with birch or evergreen branches, white amaryllis, paper-whites, and winter berries in metallic containers. A pair of larger arrangements in an entryway works nicely to welcome visitors, while similar arrangements of the same flowers on a buffet or mantel continue the theme.
Garlands can overwhelm a mantel or banister and hide architectural details. A better choice: Let the moldings show (they’re good selling points), and place a winter wreath over the mantel.
If you’ve got a fireplace, keep it blazing. Cozy touches like a basket of logs neatly arranged by the hearth or a luxe faux fur throw will reinforce the room’s sense of warmth and make people want to curl up and stay for a while.
Avoid Christmas or Hanukkah place mats, runners, and dishes. They can alienate buyers who don’t celebrate the same holidays. A pine garland interspersed with candles in hurricane holders works well on a rectangular table or sideboard. For a round table, arrange pinecones and metallic ball ornaments in a wide shallow bowl.
This article originally appeared in Elliman Magazine.