Modern holiday decorating

Holiday decorating doesn’t have to mean overstuffed Santas and green-and-red everything . . . for those of us who like to keep our Holiday scenes a bit more understated, here’s a roundup of some of the best modern holiday decorating out there.


Simple wreaths hung from a branch, via Simone Plehn on Pinterest


One giant wreath in the home of Tricia Foley, via Remodelista (photo by Marili Forastieri)


Bare lighted trees, via popsugar


Black, white and green centerpiece, via roomofkarma


Minimalist tree, via decor dots

Of course, Holiday decor does not need to be limited to black, white, and silver to be considered modern. Here are some more colorful ideas.


Bright modern decor, via poppytalk, via InsideOut magazine


Christmas ornaments arranged by color, via uotoronto’s instagram


A sweet modern mini-tree DIY via sugar and cloth


Neon colors bring holiday cheer, via Apartment Therapy

However you decorate, and whatever you celebrate, we hope your season is filled with peace and joy.

Modern advent calendar round-up

Posted by Lauran

I love Advent calendars. What’s more fun than counting down the days until December 25th? This Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to make or buy your Advent calendar—you have until next Tuesday (Dec. 1). To help you cull through the hundreds of ideas on the web and in magazines, I thought I’d choose my five favorite to share. I like these because they’re clever, colorful and more modern than most. (And for my Jewish friends: these would also make great “Hanukkah countdown” displays too! Just create one box/envelope for every night of Hanukkah, and make sure the 9th one holds something extra special!)

Individual packages wrapped with washi tape

advent 1

via casadifalcone

Individual brown envelopes in a fun container

advent 2

via simplystamped

Wooden tags hung from a Christmas tree branch

advent 3

via themerrythought

Wrapped matchboxes in a bowl

advent 4

via justagirl

Bright-colored take-out boxes in a pyramid

advent 5

via studiodiy

And what to put inside your calendars? Here are some fun ideas:

  • Saltwater taffy
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Chocolate kisses
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Holiday activity idea cards (“make a gingerbread house”, “sing Jingle Bells”, etc.)
  • Tootsie rolls
  • Lip balm
  • Lego characters
  • Lottery tickets
  • Mini sharpies

Have fun and customize your Advent calendar so it’s just right for your friends and/or family. Feature your favorite colors, yummiest treats, and special traditions. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Visual Jill gift guide

It’s always nice to get new sources for holiday gifts. In this spirit, we thought it would be fun for each Visual Jill design team member to choose their favorite gift ideas in different categories. So here you have it: the very best gift ideas from Jill (owner and creative director), Lauren (designer), Lauran (marketing director), and Natacha (design intern). Enjoy!

Favorite home decor gifts

From Jill:

commune book

Commune: Designed in California, $43 on Amazon

From Lauren:

rewined candle


Rewined Candle, on sale at West Elm for $22

From Lauran:

large fern hope basket

The Large Fern Hope Basket from Across Africa, $50 (directly supports artisans in Rwanda)

From Natacha:

inka cushion

Inka Cushion from Clever Spaces, $82

Favorite fashion accessory gifts

From Jill:

blue beanie

Blue Cashmere Blend Beanie, $40

From Lauren:

subtle spark necklace

Subtle Spark Necklace from Anthropologie, $48

From Lauran:

feed pouch

Feed Friendship Pouch, $25 (provides 10 school meals for hungry children)

From Natacha:


iPhone Case at, $25 (they have a great selection)


Favorite kitchen gifts

From Jill:

blue bottle

Blue Bottle Coffee Tote Set, $30

From Lauren:

retro print teapot

Retro Print Teapot from Dot & Bo, on sale for $37.99

From Lauran:

fog linen calendar

2015 Calendar Cloth from Fog Linen, $15

From Natacha:


Wooden Mixing Spoons, $29 for set of 3

Favorite holiday decorations

From Jill:

terrain trees

Brush Tree Farm Set from Terrain, $18

From Lauren:


Wire Wreath from CB2, $24.95 (easy to customize with ornaments or ribbons!)

From Lauran:

mini snowflakes

Mini Wooden Snowflake Ornament Gift Box, $27.95 from etsy seller TimberGreenWoods

From Natacha:

wire ornaments

CB2 Wire Ornaments, $3.95-$4.95 each

Modern Christmas trees

For many people this is Christmas tree week — just yesterday I saw at least six cars with trees strapped on top. We thought we’d share some of our favorite modern trees from around the web — and a couple of our own!

jill's treeJill chose a tall skinny tree to take advantage of the nice high ceilings in her newly remodeled home (more on her home coming soon!). She kept it simple with bright ornaments and lights but no tinsel or garlands. She wrapped vintage orange fabric around the base of the tree instead of a traditional skirt.

lauren's treeLauren decided to go “cool” (literally) with her tree this year, with LED lights that reflect off of her peacock blue wall, black and white wrapped gifts, and a top hat instead of a star on top.

christmas tree2_basiclabelssweden

We love this simple tree made from recycled wood, found via Anajura on Pinterest.

wood tree

Here’s another simple wood tree that encapsulates rustic modern style. (via Pinterest, via Jalien)

chalkboard treeThis “tree” may not give you that Christmas smell, but the clean-up sure would be easy! (via Anna Tyapkina on Pinterest)

bright tree

What makes this simple tree so fantastic is all the bright modern colors surrounding it! (via Pinterest, via Diana Celella)

Show us your tree! Post a comment and photo below!


Holiday Decorating, Part 2: Bright Colors and DIYs

Some of the most refreshing holiday decor we’ve seen falls outside of the traditional red, white and green color palette. It’s fun to incorporate brights and neons for a change.

For example, in Jill’s living room, we went with a “black, white and color” theme:

We also love this happy garland from Midget Gems featured on Apartment Therapy:

(via Apartment Therapy)
Your table settings and centerpieces are an easy opportunity to add color. For Jill’s holiday place settings, we set out a bowl of bright Christmas balls and then carried the color through the ribbons tied around the napkins:
We tucked an air plant under the ribbon as a modern alternative to the traditional fir tree clipping.
Two DIY projects add some extra fun to our decorations. On the kitchen wall, we hung an original art piece created by Lauren Hosmer from our team.
Lauren glued mini-cookie cutters together (get out your glue gun!) and then painted some of the interiors with red acrylic paint. After hanging the piece with clear fishing line, she inserted a few air plants for a funky touch.
Lauren also created the dramatic vases on the living room table:
Lauren transformed simple wine, Perrier and sake bottles using acrylic paint and painter’s tape. (Hint: remove the labels from the bottles and paint the white layer before adding the colorful stripe!)
What’s your current holiday color scheme? Do you have a favorite Holiday DIY? Share them with us in the comments below!

Holiday Decorating, Part 1: Stockings

Nothing says Christmas like stockings bulging with goodies, hung over a roaring fire. But if you don’t have a fireplace (or even a mantel), stockings can still be part of your holiday decorating scheme. They bring the holiday spirit whether hung from doorknobs, on wall hooks, or even on an empty coat rack!

At Jill’s own house, she hangs her stockings on her stair bannisters, and varies the style of the stockings from year to year. This holiday she found these charming, colorful and unique stockings at the Alameda Flea Market.

She also bought a set of minis for the pets in the family!

Last year we added gold chain to the greenery with the stockings on the bannister:

If you’re still searching for the right stockings, here’s a few cool ones we found:

White and fluffy from West Elm.

Colorful stripes from LIVbyLouise on etsy.

Graphic and modern by StudioTree on etsy.

Colorful — and customized — from Urban Creative, also from etsy.

Where do you hang your stockings? And what’s your favorite thing to find inside your stocking? Let us know in the comments below!

Gift Ideas from Visual Jill

Ready or not, here it comes . . . the “official” Holiday shopping season is upon us. Today’s post is all about helping you whittle down your gift list . . .  these recent discoveries and old favorites might be just right for your friends and family.

Pantone Mugs. These bright and cheery mugs give morning coffee a boost —and look great on  kitchen shelves. $90 for set of 6.

Flower vases from Anthropologie. These come in several styles; this Chrysanthemum is our favorite. $28 each.

Premium Down Ultra-light vest from Uniqlo. This great layering piece is both cozy and light. $49.90.

Birch Storage Boxes from CB2. Great for hiding treasures (or just the remote controls). $29.99 for set of 4.

Peet’s Coffee. Treat the coffee-lovers in your life to the very best — a local favorite!

Velvet pillows from World Market. These come in seven colors and are the best deal we’ve found for sprucing up your living room. $9.99-$29.99 depending on size.

Favorite Throw from West Elm. A great addition to any couch or reading chair! $29.00

And last but not least, why not give the gift of decor? Our very own Visual Jill Gift Certificate is just the right present for anyone who could use decorating help of any kind (finding the right furnishings, color consultations, repurposing current items, etc). Just send us an email at and we’ll have it delivered to you!


Going Green

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (which is tomorrow), this post is all about green — the color of grass, trees, four-leaf clovers . . . and one of our very favorite decorating colors.

We’re not shy when it comes to painting rooms a lovely shade of green . . . whether it’s just one wall, as we did in this bedroom for a recent Style to Sell house:

(Benjamin Moore Split Pea, 2146-30)

Or an entire dining room, this one for a Berkeley client:

(Benjamin Moore Pear Green, 2028-40)

This month’s House Beautiful also focuses on green, and we loved this collage of great green items they put together:

And in Chicago, they take their love of green even farther this time of year . . .

(image via Mavea Inspired Water blog)
May the luck of the Irish be with you this weekend! Go out and get yourself some green!

Happy Holidays

All of us at Visual Jill wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season. This photo from the late 50’s shows Jill (left), her older sister Julie, and her lovely mom Brita, who passed away this past May. We’ll be thinking of her on Christmas Eve, when her family will open presents and eat lutefisk — a Norwegian tradition.

May your days be filled with family, friends and peace.

A Festive Holiday Table

Setting the table for guests is perhaps our favorite part of holiday decorating. It’s so fun to put all the pieces together — the place settings, place mats, and of course the centerpiece. For our own holiday table this year we chose to balance bright colors with natural elements, along with a bit of gold (to compliment the rest of the decor in the house).

We found our fabulous succulent centerpiece at Flowerland, and placed it over a runner made from a folded piece of gold fabric. Then we lined up simple colored balls along the base of the wooden box.Our place mats are thick felt circles in the same bright colors, and we used simple white Norwegian plates that Jill inherited from her  mom. The silver is also from Jill’s family. It’s always special to incorporate some family tradition.

This photo shows the delicate pattern on the plates, and the colorful eclectic ornaments we used as napkin rings. There are so many other great ideas out there in design blogs and magazines. Here are some of our favorites:

White and green are always a powerful combination. (via lolalina, via Fryd + Design)

Old funnels make beautiful candle holders, especially when placed on antique lace. (via Poppytalk, via Sjarmermende Gjenbruk)

And what could be cuter than using alphabet soup letters for your placecards? (from lolalina via Oh Happy Day)