6 Ways to Make Your House More Luxe for the Holidays

If you're tired of traditional holiday decor, try modernizing your mantle or switching up your holiday wreath.

Copper pipe and floral door decor
Photo: Matthew Williams

It may be cold outside, but your house doesn't have to be. It turns out that the simplest touches—a sprig of this, a swath of that—are all you need to fill your home with holiday spirit. Here's the key: Instead of spending a ton of time or money to deck your halls this winter, simply concentrate on making a few smaller spots feel more special. Whether it's a bench in your entryway, a bare corner in the kitchen, or even just the back door, with just a few stylish switch-ups, you can make your whole house feel festive (in a quietly elegant—not in-your-face, over-the-top—way). The best part: You don't have to be an experienced crafter or a highly skilled decorator. These little design moves are quick and easy enough for any homeowner to handle.

There's little to no shopping involved either: You can use twinkling lights and shiny ornaments you have on hand, plus beautiful bowls, favorite pieces of art, and even meaningful jewelry you've collected over the years. Adding bursts of greenery doesn't have to mean a trip to the flower shop—you can easily forage for branches and a variety of leafy greens right in your own backyard. Just keep in mind: To tie all of your updates together, it's a good idea to stick with a limited palette. Ready to give it a go? Try these tips and tricks to help your home look its best—and feel more welcoming than ever—this holiday season.

01 of 06

Cozy Up a Bench

Room with cozy bench and rug, basket
Matthew Williams

Have a workaday drop zone somewhere in your house (the entryway or another spot)? That utilitarian space can turn positively ski-lodgey if you add some layers: Choose a weighty textile or two (like a blanket or throw, or even a remnant from a carpet store) and top off that pile with a plush sheepskin. The trick to a styled look: Fold each layer the width of the bench, then stack and wrap the whole thing with a band of fabric or a wide ribbon, knotting it in the back of the bench. (For this version, we used four-inch-wide faux-suede strips.)

02 of 06

Gild a Bookshelf

Bookshelf with gilded holiday decorations
Matthew Williams

Have some ho-hum shelving in your living room that could use a little sparkle for the holiday season? Clear out the clutter, paring down your books into smaller, streamlined horizontal and vertical stacks. Mix in some sculptural objets for balance (but be sure to leave some breathing room). Then spruce up the display with a few delicate metallic wreaths. Hanging the wreaths is a cinch: Just tuck the ribbon into a weighty stack of books.

03 of 06

Modernize Your Mantel

Mantel with floral and holiday decorations
Matthew Williams

Want to give your fireplace a fresher, more updated look for this Christmas season? Instead of sticking with the usual (perpetually shedding!) evergreen branches and pine cones, let long-lasting amaryllises take the lead this year. Surround the smattering of florals with neutral objects, choosing pieces that are different heights and a mix of shapes, and made of a variety of materials. To finish off the display, add an understated, elegant touch: a single string of lights to get that holiday glow.

04 of 06

Weave in Some Greenery

Bar cart decorated with olive branches, flowers
Matthew Williams

For a bar cart that's party ready, tuck in olive branches to form an artful border. You can mold your own herb-embellished ice bucket too: Just put a small container inside a larger one and fill the space between the two vessels with water and rosemary sprigs, then freeze. Next, pop the ice out of the large container (you can run it under warm water to loosen it first); place on a shallow pie plate to collect the water as the ice melts. (Try this easy DIY to mold herb-embellished vases and votive holders, too.)

05 of 06

Festoon a Corner

Room with holiday accents, white, wood
Matthew Williams

Got an empty nook in the kitchen, in the entryway, or in your hallway? Think of it as an opportunity to bring in some extra holiday spirit (with very little expense and practically no effort). Start with a grouping of three small trees, and adorn some of the trees with lights. If you want, hang a garland for extra adornment. Or consider adding another strand of lights or putting up a string of holiday cards—all of these ideas will turn what's normally a basic, untapped corner into a fun and festive spot in minutes.

06 of 06

Relax Your Door Decor

Copper pipe and floral door decor
Matthew Williams

Instead of going with the annual store-bought wreath this holiday season, try something a little more artful and unexpected: your very own "deconstructed" DIY version. Here is the simple how to: First, string rope through three pieces of precut copper pipe (sold at most hardware stores) to form a triangle. Next, attach a mix of foraged greens—any that you find in your backyard are fine!—using wire. Then insert a few different blooms. Keep in mind: For best, longer lasting results, choose flowers that will dry nicely. (For the wreath on this door, we used a combination of cockscomb, snowberries, and amaranthus.)

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