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.

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

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!

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)

A Little Luxe in our Holiday Decor

Our 2011 Holiday theme is “natural + color” . . . but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for a little glamour. Inspired by the holiday bling in the fashion world (like this spread from Harper’s BAZAAR), this year we decided to mix in just a touch of gold to raise the sparkle quotient.

On our tree, we purchased some gold chain at the hardware store (thanks for the tip, Emily Henderson and HGTV) and turned it into a festive garland, hanging it right next to the color pop garland purchased at Anthropologie. Then we bought some shiny gold fabric and bunched it artfully into our tree skirt. It’s all topped off by our golden moon (a nice alternative to the traditional star).

We wove a similar gold chain into the garland that decks our stairwell.

We love the juxtaposition of the shiny gold with the natural greenery.

Top: you can see how simple twinkle lights enhance a rustic straw wreath. Bottom: The gold chain appears once again above our bench . . . leopard + gold + green = subtle holiday glamour!

We added mini-trees made of different materials all around the space. Left, feather trees offset a vase of glowing branches. At right, a rosemary tree sits next to a tiny pine cone tree. The bright turquoise wall, fuchsia ornaments, and red table bring merry shots of color to the scene.

When you’re decorating this week, don’t be afraid to combine materials and colors. We created a mix of color, rustic textures and a touch of gold . . . what can you create? Let us know in the comments below!

Outdoor holiday decorating — Berkeley style

There are so many ways to decorate the exterior of your home for the holidays. Some people are fond of inflatable Santas, others favor lots of sparkle and shine, and still others hang hundreds of lights. At VisualJill, we’re taking a more natural, low-key approach.

The front of the house greets guests with a simple evergreen wreath, large green ceramic pots, and our favorite stock tank, filled with cyclamen, cabbage plants and a tiny pine tree right in the center.

Small pots of pansies and succulents adorn the steps, which lead to our front door. We hung the succulent wreath from burlap to add a rustic appeal, which goes nicely with the simple juniper garland.

On the porch, we featured a humble little cypress tree on one side of the bench and a blooming aloe vera plant in a cool bow bin on the other. The fountain is from Flora Grubb.

To make the tree feel a little less “Charlie Brown-ish”, we put it in a galvanized pot and tied a wooden star on the front.

Finally, a simple straw wreath hangs on the inside of the porch window — bought at Flowerland.

We kept it simple and natural, yet festive — in true Berkeley style.

Warm and Wonderful Winter Fantasy at Anthropologie

Leave it to Anthropologie to come up with a fresh take on Holiday decorating! We walked into our local Berkeley store yesterday and were awestruck by the clever merchandising and styling throughout.

The ceiling is covered with curly strips of white, silver and bronze paper that hang down to give a snowfall effect, and complementary ivory items are showcased on beautiful tables. There is a touch of sparkle everywhere.

We loved this juxtaposition of the blue chipped painted wheelbarrow with the ethnic-inspired frock. Brilliant!

And check out this original display — glass globes are suspended on long metal spikes to suggest snowballs.

Of course, since it’s Anthropologie, there has to be a few pops of color . . . like the orange wall showcasing these modern-yet-folksy Christmas trees:

We are so inspired by what we saw. Congratulations to the Berkeley Anthro team for creating yet another incredible store environment. Now, time to get out our own Holiday boxes . . .