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I'm dreaming of a White (and Silver and Blue) Christmas...

I have an early case of holiday fever. Perhaps it's because this will be our first holiday season in the new house, or perhaps it's just because I've been very busy at work and this has been one helluva roller coaster of a year, but I'm looking forward to the upcoming holiday season immensely. And while I enjoy Thanksgiving with all of its great food, classic college football rivalries, and a four- or five-day license to do little else other than eat said food and watch said football, I don't particularly enjoy Thanksgiving decorations. After all, autumnal colors don't exactly jive with my house's decor -- and, quite frankly, a lot of Thanksgiving decorations can veer towards the culturally insensitive (hello miniature Pilgrims and Indians!). Call me lazy but my preference is to leave out any leftover pumpkins from Halloween and call it a day. Besides, since our family traditionally puts up all our Christmas decorations the weekend following Thanksgiving, I tend to associate Thanksgiving with Christmas decor as well.

This year I thought I'd do a few posts on decorating for Christmas. I know the politically correct term is "Holidays", but since I don't celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I thought it wise to leave decorating for those events up to those who do. And so the next few weeks leading up to Christmas I'll be showcasing a few of my favorite homes decorated for the holidays as well as a few tips and tricks for celebrating the season in a sophisticated, decidedly non-cheesy way. So if you're looking for giant inflatable reindeer or tips on how to light your house up like the Griswolds, I suggest you look elsewhere.

I thought I'd kick things off with a house that puts a decided twist on traditional holiday decorating. The November issue of Canadian House & Home featured this lovely beachfront home owned by Darci Ilich, the co-owner of the charming Vancouver boutique The Cross. Ilich preserves the serene and coastal tranquility of her cottage's decor by decorating in whites and silvers, punctuated by hits of robin's egg blue and turquoise. Of course you all know of my ongoing love affair with turquoise, and with blue and white, and I think these colors are such a wonderful, wintry alternative to the traditional red and green. The palette is particularly appealing if your home, like mine, veers towards cooler colors or neutrals.

I love how this simple wreath of silver balls is hung around the wooden deer head (punched up ever so subtly with the lovely pale blue ribbon). There are a ton of inexpensive ball wreaths available on the market today (check out West Elm and ZGallerie for some nice options). These are also great alternative if you have a serious aversion to fake foliage but are still looking for a wreath that you can reuse year after year. I lack the discipline to maintain an all-white color palette, but I can certainly appreciate the serenity and sophistication that it can bring to a space. Ilich manages to keep the room cozy though by playing with different shades of white, cream and ivory and by bringing in a variety of textures. I particularly love the textural interplay between the flokati pillow and the metallic pillow against the white canvas love seat.

The contrast between the dark wood table and pristine white Louis XV chairs is brilliant, especially against that gorgeous wall of french doors. I love the idea of decorating your chandelier as you would a Christmas tree -- and a great way to bring some of your decorations into the dining room. I also prefer this to a large, traditional centerpiece on the table, which inevitably has to be moved when company actually arrives if you actually want to see the person sitting across from you. Another great tip: swap out those pesky (and dangerous!) metal hooks on your ornaments for lovely ribbons. If you're short on time and/or patience, Crate&Barrel even sells pre-cut and pre-tied ribbons by the bunch (all you have to do is loop them through!).

A close up shot of the chandelier. I absolutely adore the mercury glass ornaments hung on pale blue ribbons. Perfection.

Ah the tree. The centerpiece of any holiday decorating. I love the idea of buying a smaller tree and putting it on a pedestal table. Not only is it less expensive than buying a large tree, but by getting it off the ground you can keep it out of reach of pets and small children. While I vacillate between loving and hating Christmas trees with very controlled color palettes (They're so striking! / They strike me as overly decorated/impersonal!), I think this one really works as the ornaments on display are varied and unique -- these aren't just glass balls picked up at your local Michael's or Target.

If you're looking for a White Christmas (as I am), there are a ton of wonderfully sophisticated (and relatively inexpensive) options on the market this year as silver, mercury glass, turquoise and white ceramics are all big trends in home decor right now. Below are a few on my Christmas wish list:

Source list (clockwise, from top left): 1. David Stark holiday collection from West Elm ($12-47). Love the super-modern, sculptural vibe of this collection. 2. Antiqued glass collection from Wisteria ($19-$34). These would add a touch of sparkle year round -- no need to limit yourself to the holidays. 3. Peppermint Vanilla bundle from Method ($24). My favorite holiday home scent of all-time! 4. Mosaic tree from Target ($9.99 - $19.99). Love the art deco vibe of these trees; I'd put these on the mantle for some serious sparkle. 5. Snow Globes from West Elm ($29 each). Of course the peacock is my favorite! 6. Marimekko Lumimarja tea cup & saucer and dinner plate from Velocity Art & Design ($24 and $15). One of my favorite Marimekko patterns, now available on porcelain dishware. 7. Bengal Bazaar Christmas stocking from PlumCushion ($40). Simply the most sophisticated stocking ever; perfect for the design addict. 8. Winter tree candleholder from Inglenook Decor ($30.75). Maureen always has such unique finds and this snowflake tree is truly magical. 9. Belvedere Bowl from ZGallerie ($32). Perfect as a centerpiece; I'd pile it high with silver balls. 10. Turquoise mercury glass ornaments from ZGallerie ($6-$10 each). I love the weight mercury glass gives to ornaments and this turquoise is truly spectacular. 11. Dove ornament from Jonathan Adler ($24). I covet all of his ornaments, but this dove most of all; also a great gift.

Photographs of Darci Illich's home are courtesy of Canadian House & Home, November 2009 issue.

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