Columbus Dispatch Interviews Colleen Lora for Home Holiday Style Tips.

I was flattered to receive a call from The Columbus Dispatch last week.  The reporter was working on an article for the Sunday Home/Real Estate section – the topic was how to bring style into your home for the holidays.

The reporter asked me loads of questions and the attached article is the result:

I hope a reader or two out there read an idea that they’d like to incorporate into their decorating scheme this year.


Posted in Christmas Tree decorating, Decorating Tips, Holiday Decorating, How To, interior decorating, lighting, Outdoor Decorating | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Trim Your Christmas Tree like an Interior Decorator!

Include a few large ornaments to create a focal point and continue a theme for your Christmas tree.

Include a few large ornaments to create a focal point and continue a theme for your Christmas tree.

If you’re like me you love creating a beautiful holiday setting in your home to welcome guests and family members each year.  However, coming up with the creative inspiration can be daunting.  So, here I am reposting by request,  the designer tips I use when decking my halls and trimming the trees of my clients.

Real or Fake? As a decorator, I prefer artificial trees and garland as they hold heavier items better than fresh evergreens and allow one to wrap and bend the branches to hold items in place. Trees today look so real, last for years, are good for those with allergies and are more flame resistant than their real counterparts.

Lighting: If you don’t have a convenient pre-lit tree, and want to store the tree in pieces you can light each section of the tree in pieces. Start near the trunk on the bottom row and make a slipknot out of the lights, securing it to the branch, pull tight. Bring lights from the center of the tree all the way toward tip of branch, wrapping it around twice at the tip. Then, wrap lights around every other green working towards the tip for moderate lighting. For intense lighting, wrap every green. I use a formula of at least 100 lights per foot of tree. There is an art form to lighting the tree properly – it takes time, but is well worth it. Start on the inside at the base of your tree and wrap the branches with the lights. This will prevent the unsightly green cords from showing so profusely.

Focal Pieces: Place the large statement piece deep enough into the tree so they are fully supported. Place smaller ones near the top and larger ones near the base of the tree.

Ribbons & Fabric: People have been using ribbon for years – the decorator tricks are to use plenty of it, only use wired ribbon and anchor it inside the tree – never on the tips. You can place ribbon in several patterns:

  • Vertical: You can run the ribbon down the tree vertically for a symmetrical look. Start a little ways down from the tree top to allow room for your top decoration. Anchor the beginning of the ribbon by wrapping a branch around the ribbon. Then make a half loop and drop down about one foot before anchoring it to the rear of another branch – never the tip. End with a pretty tail for a finished look.
  • Double Hurricane: This is one of my favorites. Lay two ribbons on top of each other folding the doubled ends over to create a loop. As in the vertical style, attach the doubled loop to to the tree by bending a branch over it, the pull the ribbons slightly apart highlighting the two ribbons. Next, continue on a diagonal, making half loops every foot or so as you work down the tree – spreading the ribbons apart so you can see the tree through the space between them.
  • Freestyle: This is an economical use of ribbon scraps. Randomly place the strips in your tree in half loop patterns, securing with branches as you go. This tricks the eye into thinking you have yards of ribbon swirled in your tree.
  • Frame: Create one or more triangular shaped frames around your statement piece. You can add more drama by placing bows at the top and edges of the triangle. Use the same half loop, anchor to branch technique as in the other methods.

Fabric: Lightweight fabrics like tulle, satin or lame make dramatic tree trimmings. You would use this in place of ribbon. The formula needed is two yards per foot of tree. Fold the fabric on top of itself to create a rose shape and secure with floral wire. Then attach it to the tree similar to the vertical ribbon pattern – making sure the fabric loops are full and billowy. For more drama, pool the fabric under the tree as the skirt.

In this video I made a couple of years ago,  you will see how I used inexpensive landscape burlap on a large, woodland themed Christmas Tree. (excuse the video quality, it was our first attempt using a flip camera).  How to Decorate a Woodland Themed Christmas Tree Video

Garlands: Made out of everything from popcorn and cranberries, to paper snowflakes, feather boas, to plastic beads and tinsel, garland should be hung before adding ornaments. For a seven-foot tree, use 48 to 60 feet of garland. You can either tuck the garland a little deeper into the tree for more depth or hang it in a wedding cake pattern, where the garland drapes near branch tips – you will need a few more strands to do this properly. Start at the bottom and attach garland by twisting a branch around it, drape the garland horizontally, be sure to space it evenly. You can use garland of one color or combine two colors and bead sizes.

Ornaments: Now it’s time for ornaments – the options are limitless today. Use the proper hooks or floral wire for the weight of the ornament. Think dimensionally – meaning, apply the shiny ornaments deeper in the tree where they will reflect light. A classic decorating mistake is to hang the ornaments on branch tips.

Fillers: These space fillers like angel hair, birds, feathers, fruit or floral picks complement your theme. You can insert a pick directly into your tree or wire it to a branch with floral wire. Place picks as you would find them in nature – don’t hang a bird upside down for example.

Treetop: It’s best to stick with your theme here but a tree topper tends to be a very personal item – some insist on the same angel they’ve used for years. That’s fine just jazz it up with a large bow or some finials or a cluster of crooked branches for dimension. Scale is important – a large tree calls for a large treetop, narrower trees look better with smaller toppers.

I hope you received at least one new idea for trimming your tree this holiday season. Let me know how it goes – I’d love to see photos!

Posted in Christmas Tree decorating, Decorating Tips, Holiday Decorating, How To, interior decorating | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Interior Decorator’s Fall Containers and Arrangements

As I mentioned in my decorating newsletter, I love changing the outdoor containers with the change of the seasons.  And to help keep the color in bloom when Columbus, Ohio temperatures take a plunge, I supplement the frost hardy live plants with artificial florals and picks.  From a distance, one driving by my home can’t tell what’s real and what’s fake.  The artificial selection has gotten so much better over the years.

On my back porch I have these off white wire urns with lids on each end table.  In the summer they are overflowing with ivy and real plantings.  I kept the ivy in place but added artificial gourds, pumpkins and oak leaves – leaving the lid open. I love the weathered brown look of the moss for fall.

moss filled wire urns overflow with gourds, leaves and ivy.

moss filled wire urns overflow with gourds, leaves and ivy.

left urn lamp

If you subscribe to my decorating newsletter, then you’ve already seen how I did the large urns on my front porch.  Here I used real cabbage, mums in burgundy, white and purple, autumn haze coral bells and a tall, feathery grass for drama.  To add more golden yellow, I reached for faux silk oak leaves.  For additional height and to tie into the limelight hydrangeas out front, I found faux sedum in a sagey green color.  For additional fullness I found an autumn color of eucalyptus and finished the arrangement with brown dried pods.  As the weeks progress, the grass and mums will fill out more and I know the artificials will help keep the color out front until I’m ready for the Christmas arrangements!

Tall grasses help create a dramatic welcome for guests.

Tall grasses help create a dramatic welcome for guests.

Artificial stems of eucalyptus, sedum, dried pods and oak leaves supplement the live fall plantings.

Artificial stems of eucalyptus, sedum, dried pods and oak leaves supplement the live fall plantings.

Another fun way I use artificial gourds is by stacking them with a few floral picks into a tall glass apothecary jar on my kitchen counter…

I fill this jar with so many things throughout the year!

I fill this jar with so many things throughout the year!

Finally, I have two small urns by my back porch.  This year I just used three shades of small mums with another grassy perennial.  Last  year I was on the cattail craze but I wanted something a bit fuller.

bak urn rt

I’d love to see how you decorate your home for fall – you can send me photos at

Enjoy all the beauty and bounty Autumn brings!

pumpkins entry

Posted in Decorating Tips, Holiday Decorating, home decorating, How To, Outdoor Decorating | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment