Christmas by Design 13

Interior Designer Howard Wiggins’ Tips for Decorating for the Holidays

The magic of Christmas often shines through in the way we decorate our homes. Every year we pull out boxes that have been packed away and delight in rediscovering beloved ornaments and decorations bearing memories of Christmases past. In fact, we often look to recreate some of those warm, special feelings we remember from years ago.

“I think everybody in their heart goes back to the Christmas they grew up with,” Brentwood interior designer Howard Wiggins says. “You want a touch of that because that’s what Christmas is all about.”

As we pull out and begin putting up our favorite decorations and work to create that holiday spirit, there’s often a tendency “fill our home with Christmas.” We want to add something to every open spot which can sometimes be overwhelming. Howard believes in taking a different approach.

 “I feel my home is beautiful year-round, and when I do Christmas, I do it very subtly. I don’t believe in overdoing Christmas,” he says.

He follows some of the same rules for decorating for the holidays as he does any other time of the year. He believes you should enhance what you already have in your home.

“Tie in the look that you have,” he explains. “You want your Christmas decorations to complement your home, not take away from your furnishings. You want to be able to see the room and your Christmas decorations simultaneously.”

Howard, who wrote the book What Were You Thinking? likes to think outside the box. Known for his expertise with both design and color, he is famous for using different materials to add a new twist to an old design or create something never seen before, 
as well as blending colors beyond what’s traditionally been done. He does the same thing at Christmas. He’s created a variety of Christmas trees over the years, including one he recently decorated using teacups from an actual china set.

“You want to make it memorable,” he says. “I mean who hasn’t seen a red, green Christmas tree? That’s kind of normal. So, do it up differently, so it becomes memorable.”

He’s always looking for unique ways to use color, even at Christmas. He says that while red, green and gold may be the traditional colors, you can use other colors to decorate.

“If I had a purple, pink and white room, I would do something that goes with the décor of the home and those colors,” he says. “Enhance your room rather than fill your room with Christmas, so you can’t see the room.”

Some of the photos of Wiggins’ home shown here are from the book Christmas at Designer Homes Across America. Howard Wiggins is listed as number 35 in the Andrew Martin Interior Design Review which lists the 100 top designers in the world. If you’d like to reach Howard Wiggins, visit his website,