Home for the Holidays

Give Your Space that Special Sparkle

‘Tis the season to gather with friends and family—from tree lightings to Chanukah parties, to good old-fashioned festivities—and we all want our homes to reflect the magnificence of this special time of year. That’s where Ryan Smith, owner of Greenwich-based Ryan Thomas Smith Interior Design, comes in. His enthusiasm for creating beautiful environments for his clients, coupled with his passion for the holidays, is exactly why we asked him to share his best tips and suggestions for sprucing up our spaces.

The holidays are a time for hosting. What are some special touches that can liven up a table? 

I tend to like things clean and simple, especially on a table. Nothing is more annoying than trying to hold a conversation over a massive centerpiece. I recommend keeping the linens and place settings neutral, with just a touch of sparkle. Silvers, golds and whites are always smart choices. Then get a beaded table runner and line it with five-seven bowl vases packed with low-cut roses and sprinkle some tea lights all around them. This will add a little color and romance without being obtrusive. 

What’s your favorite way to dress a Christmas tree? 

This has been a longstanding dilemma for my family. Unfortunately, about 10 years ago when our daughter arrived, I lost for good. I always preferred a “perfectly” decorated tree with matching bulbs, ribbons, beads and, of course, white lights. As family décor became more important, I realized that the most important thing is a ton of lights. Not only that, but I had to break my white lights-only rule by stringing multi-colored lights a layer deep in the branches and then adding a heavier layer of white bulbs on the outer branches. Everyone was happy with the subtlety of the color shining through and the tree twinkled beautifully. 

There are so many home Christmas decorations available. What are some design ideas if you’re not religious or if you’re celebrating Chanukah, for example? 

Although Christmas décor has become more and more secular, seasonal items are always a great option. Fresh greenery wrapped in lights is eye-catching, as are white and silver winter decorations. Most recently, my wife and I found place settings with a simple silver branch and a cardinal sitting on it. If it’s Chanukah you celebrate, a large-scale menorah in a bay window or on a console atop piles of lit greenery with photos of family in classic silver frames is a spectacular way to stay true to your meaning of the season.

When should holiday adornments go on display? When is it time to take them down? 

I'd like to say, “Do what feels right to you;” however, I’m pretty absolute on this. Decorate the day after Thanksgiving and disassemble on New Year’s Day. That's the rule! 

Aside from the typical red, green and blue, are there other color schemes that are equally festive this time of year? 

I've never been a huge fan of the traditional red and green or blue and white. As I do with my interior design, I prefer to keep my holiday décor congruent with the colors already in the home. Our living room is gray with some goldenrod and dark teal accents, so I did my tree in the same hues—not a red or green bulb in sight! I recommend tight parameters by keeping the style similar throughout—this way you can’t go wrong.

Best shops in Greenwich to find:

Ornaments: The Drawing Room 

Menorahs: Michaelangelo of Greenwich

Wreaths: McArdle's Florist and Garden Center 

Lights: CVS (Really!)

Table Décor: Lynnens 

Home Décor: Lillian August  

To learn more and get in touch with Ryan, visit RTSInteriorDesign.com.

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