Not sure how to decorate for the holidays? Bobby Berk from Queer Eye is here to help. The design expert is a pro at transforming a space, and one of the best times of year to give your home a refresh is the holiday season. However, it is quite easy to take things too far when it comes to seasonal decor.
So we asked Berk to give us the deets on how he approaches decorating for this time of year. From adding art to your home to hacking your home to peak holiday vibes before a party, the designer schools us on how to get in the spirit of the season.
Want to learn the inside scoop? Read ahead to learn how to be an expert at holiday decorating yourself.
How are you decorating your home for the holidays this year?
Bobby Berk: This year unfortunately we are not decorating because we are not going to be home, which makes me a little sad. Normally my husband and I love to do that. I’m missing the holidays at home.
When I do though, I love decorating with texture instead of with a lot of color. And when I say texture, I mean golds, silvers, and stuff like that rather than just putting a lot of red and green around my house. I like adding some bling. Bling takes me back to that old Rudolph The Rednose Reindeer cartoon claymation when we were little with that silver and gold. To me, that’s Christmas.
What are the holiday decorating essentials everyone needs to have on hand?
BB: For me, I love decorating for the holidays with art as well. It’s a great way to switch out the decor for your home for the holidays with things that are easily stored. Often when it comes to holiday decorations, you don’t have the space to store all that stuff. But with art, it can easily slide in the back of a closet or under a bed. So try adding pieces on your wall that have that kind of holiday glimmer to them.
I also like decorating for the holidays with navy. Not just your typical red and green, but navy and silver. It takes me back to a store years ago when I first moved to New York. I was living on the Upper East Side and I saw all these amazing blue and silver Christmas trees. I thought, “Oh this is great! This is such a trend this year!
So I threw a holiday party at my house and I decorated my blue and silver Christmas tree. And half my friends who came over are Jewish and were like, “Oh, you have a Hanukkah bush! We didn’t know you were Jewish.” And I was like, "Oh, now I get it!" But it has always kind of stuck with me as one of my favorite ways to decorate for the holidays because I like doing things different. I don’t like it to be that traditional green and red that a lot of people do. So navy is one of my favorite ways to decorate — not just for the holidays, but year round.
Christmas decorations can easily slip from nostalgic and sentimental to a bit more on the tacky end. Do you have any tips to keep things a bit more stylish when decorating for the season?
BB: I have some of the same tricks for the holidays that I have throughout the year. Don’t go crazy with tons of different types of patterns. I like using solid colors that have different texture to them and it keeps it much more sleek and classy, than it does using a bunch of different plastics. So wood, metal, natural tree branches — things like that keep it much more on the classy and pretty side than using what has become the plastic Christmas decor that we see a lot.
Do you have any advice for decorating if you are on a tighter budget this year?
BB: Honestly when it comes to decorating on a budget, use natural stuff. When you go to get your Christmas tree, there are many many times the place will have tree branches they cut off when someone gets their tree shorter. So they’ll have a bunch of extra tree branches laying around. I love getting those. Often they’ll give them to you for free. You can make a wreath with them or place it on a coffee table with candles inside. Of course, use fake candles because tree branches can easily go up in smoke. A little safety tip there too!
And again, use art. You can definitely have pieces you use throughout the year, but try to change it up. Like if you have a metallic piece that you use at other times of the year, lean that on your mantel with some evergreen branches and candles. It instantly turns the art from any day of the year to holiday art.
If you’re throwing a holiday party, do you have any hacks to get your home in the seasonal spirit right before guests come?
BB: Candles — I know it kinda sounds a bit cliché but they are always a great way to set a holiday mood, especially if they are scented. That being said, I recently watched a documentary called Stink on Netflix and now I’m very anti any scents. So if you want to do it the natural way, use un-scented candles or fake candles. But before your party, put that cinnamon spice and clove holiday drink on the stove. Without chemicals, you’ll be able to create a scent. That sense of smell is really related to memory. So when I smell that drink my grandmother used to always make around the holidays, I’m transported to Christmas when I was little. So when I tell people how to get ready for the holidays, it’s all about lighting and smells.
Do you have any go-to holiday gifts that you like giving to friends and family?
BB: You know everybody always expects me to bring stuff for your home. They’re like, “Oh Bobby is going to come and bring me some great decor.” But I’m actually pretty anti about buying something for someone’s house, unless it’s somebody you know really really well. But one of the few of the things I do love is a gift card.
Some people will say a gift card isn’t really personal. But think about all the gifts that people brought to your home that you hate. If they’re a good friend, you’ll think, well crap, I can’t just throw this out or regift it. Because when they come over, they’re going to want to see it! So you put it in a closet and try to make sure to take it out every time they come over. I hate that.
So I love giving somebody a gift card, especially for the home, because they’re able to buy art and accessories that they love, and actually have a positive thought when they look at it and think of you. They’ll be like, they knew me well enough to know that I would want to pick my own thing.
Another great thing Art.com is doing for the holidays is framing pictures. So you’re able to upload pictures from your phone or your computer, they’ll frame them for you, and ship them either to you or your friend. I think that’s a really great gift to bring somebody because these days our pictures live in our phones. They don’t live on our mantels anymore or in photo albums friends can sit and rummage through. So to come to somebody’s home that you’re friends with bearing a photo of you guys is a really great great gift. It’s personal and it’s not a piece of holiday decor that you have to worry about. It’s a sentimental framing of your friendship or something they love.