Decorating for the holidays or a special occasion embraces embellishment. This is the time for frills that bring those thrills which take us back to childhood, when the shiny or glittery always held a certain magic.
Beads or other surface decorations that glimmer in strands of holiday lights or candlelight can go a long way to making a space special.
From ornaments to Christmas stockings to tree skirts, pillows, throws, table linens, coasters, dinnerware, serving dishes and even drinking glasses, beading has strongly inserted itself into the holiday decorating lexicon in recent years.
You’ll find it even where you’d least expect it — perhaps taking a humble homespun fabric out of the ordinary by adding some beads on it. Or working with felt, which might remind some of ornaments your grandmother used to stitch with sequins. Designer Bunny Williams nods to her love of gardening with a sort of nostalgic collection of beaded wool felt ornaments in the shapes of fruits inspired by her own orchard, which she created for Ballard Designs.
While beading lends elegance, it also can evoke whimsy. A set of fancy dog bone ornaments, also at Ballard, is fun and festive because of glittery polka dots.
Beading and dimensional applications of any bling-y ingredients with sparkle are much like jewelry that elevates attire. And fashion also inspires some holiday designs, and their adornment — a traditional craftsmanship with wide appeal. There’s a range in style, shape, type of bead — which can be clear as crystal, gold, silver or copper metallic, or in colors, matching or contrasting with the surface ornamented. Beads may be applied all over to totally clad a surface, scattered randomly or arranged in a pattern with familiar motifs, such as poinsettias, snowflakes, trees or holly. Any way, beads rule.
Incorporating the sparkly can be dialed up or down, as with any ornamentation. It’s effective in strategic placements, perhaps with a dazzling new purchase that strikes your fancy and complements the decorations you cheerfully bring out every holiday season.
Shopping will be inspiration enough, with the sights, sounds and aromatic pine smells of decked-out stores. But even if you shop online, the beauty of glittery products grabs attention, as do inviting headlines, like this one from Z Gallerie: “In celebration of the season, decorate your home with dazzle.” Adjectives like “transform” and descriptions like “winter wonderland” evoke the kind of aspirational and romantic scenes we would love to create.
Where to start?
— Tabletop trees. Especially dramatic when they’re graduated in size and displayed in a grouping of, say, three. Some of the prettiest we’ve seen are soft white, blanketed in “pearls” of different sizes at Horchow. And Suzanne Kasler’s tree forms that consist of assembled jewels and strands of beads are fabulous at Ballard Designs.
— Stockings and tree skirts. When they’re well-crafted, these become heirlooms. And many of this year’s offerings are out of the ordinary, like the graphic poinsettia beaded stocking on an unexpected ocean blue ground from Horchow, or the modern charcoal-and-white plaid stocking from CB2 that’s ever so subtly covered in clear sequins for haute effect.
— Ornaments, of course. Tuck in just a few evenly spaced sparkling orbs on the tree and they will pop. But ornaments also are fabulous in bowls — displayed on a console in the foyer, on a side table in the living room, on the buffet or even as part of a centerpiece. Or they can be hung at staggered heights from pretty ribbons in windows.
— Wreaths and garlands. You’ll find some beauties already assembled and appointed with sparkly ornaments or pine cones, but you also can embellish fresh greens or make fabulous the faux you take out of storage. Match the color with some glittery ribbon for a finishing touch.
— Place mats, napkins and napkin rings. The table is always a spot for showing off. At Z Gallerie, bejeweled chargers are amazing set on beaded runners, and spectacular when put together in a silver and white tableau. Kim Seybert’s pretty pearl and gold napkin rings would be lovely on a snowy white table accented with gold.
— Glassware. Cocktail glasses, such as martinis and flutes, are especially good candidates for fancy metallic touches, and some designers have extended the dress-up to pitchers as well. Kim Seybert’s paillette pitcher at Barneys is straight out of haute couture, with references to paillette-encrusted evening ware with its inspired placement of such lookalike “beads” at the base.
— Pillows and throws. Seasonal pillows are irresistible when they’re dressed with crystals, as in a fetching red velvet adorned with a graphic scrolled image of a Christmas tree, from Horchow. But any beaded or metallic touches will dress a sofa or chair, with pillows or even bead-bordered throws that lend a luxe accent.
— Tree toppers. Angels or stars are like little beacons when they shine on top of a tree.
— Wrapping packages. Ribbons and papers also have been getting a royal treatment, with all-over glitter and dimensional decorations. Richly embellished ribbons are especially best on solid-color papers, which also can have a bit of sheen. Stacked presents will never look better beneath the tree.
— Globes. And who isn’t enchanted by snow globes? Even these are treated glamorously with toppings of beads outside and in, as a trumpeting gold angel is sprinkled with shimmery dust in a snow globe from Neiman Marcus.
By Elaine Markoutsas