Story: Deana Nall | Styling: Diane Carroll |
Nothing gives a home a more welcoming holiday feel than an elegantly decorated front door. For designers Daniel Keeley and Christopher Todd, front door décor is a sophisticated art form. “Everybody sees your front door,” says Todd. “Other than the Christmas tree, it’s the most important element to decorate.”
Todd and Keeley believe a holiday look should be tailored to a home’s style as well as the homeowner’s personality. When the two experts designed looks for a Fayetteville Cape Cod-style home and a Rogers European-style home, they created two different, yet equally sophisticated, spaces.
For a Cape Cod-style home in Fayetteville, Todd and Keeley focused on an understated and organic look, using natural materials that reflect simple charm.
Swags of live cedar garland create a nature-inspired look. When hanging garland over a door, use masonry nails or screws to adhere to stone or brick. Florist wire secures garland to the nails without being conspicuous. Keeley recommends cutting the garland in half—instead of hanging it as one piece—to allow both pieces to hang in the same direction. “Garland is assembled in a way that causes it to fall down on itself if it’s hung in the wrong direction,” he says.
Double, triple or even quadruple the garland to create a larger, fuller effect. For this design, Keeley and Todd doubled the garland’s thickness on the sides and quadrupled it on top. Decorative elements appear smaller outside, so remember to think big and lush, Keeley says.
Large sugar pine cones, which can be ordered through florist shops, add to the natural appeal and are clustered with artificial golden apples and berries, which complement the home’s paint color. Keeley and Todd caution against using real fruit and berries, which can rot or attract pests. Artificial fruit stands up well to outdoor elements, is widely available at craft stores and is light so it won’t weigh down the garland, notes Keeley.
Pay attention to the entire entry area. The garland swags across the columns and awning of the Cape Cod home create a multidimensional effect while increasing visibility.
If adding lights, remember to wrap them loosely around the garland. “If you pull the lights too tight, they will cinch up the garland and you will lose fullness,” Keeley says.
For a European-style home in Rogers, Keeley and Todd created a bolder look with oversized ornaments attached to layers of garland to stand up to the home’s scale. The shimmer of metallic hues is eye-catching, and the tone-on-tone effect is an elegant embellishment for the brick home.
Choose ornaments in a variety of complementary shapes, sizes and colors. Keeley and Todd used more than 100 copper and bronze hued ornaments, securing each with a piece of wire. “The wire comes in one-foot sections and the length allows us to hook the wire through to the back of the garland and then wrap back around to hold the ornament,” Keeley says.
To help anchor oversized clusters of ornaments, attach them to a piece of artificial garland that will blend with the live garland. “It’s made with wire and will hold ornaments better than live garland,” Keeley says. “If you cover the artificial piece with the ornaments and then fill in spaces with live greenery, the artificial section will not be visible once it’s all complete.”
Use smaller ornaments and decorative accents, such as the artificial berries and two shades of ribbon shown here, to balance the groupings of ornaments.
For a dramatic effect, cut live garland a little longer so it drapes on the ground. Keeley and Todd recommend misting live garland to keep it looking fresh through the holiday season.
With any front door holiday decor, pay attention to scale. “I try to centralize everything into a smaller space to give it bigger impact,” Todd says. “So you have one large focal point instead of randomly decorated areas.”
The pair offers a final note of advice: pay attention to details. Make sure that containers are planted with winter-hardy plants, that door wreaths match the rest of the décor, and, if lights are added to garlands, that you use the least-conspicuous extension cord you can find, such as brown or green. “You don’t want a white or orange extension cord to distract from a natural look,” says Todd. “The details add up, and that’s what makes the look perfect.”
Exterior design Daniel Keeley, DK Design, Fayetteville; Christopher Todd, christophertodddesign.com
Builder-Fayetteville home Nall Custom Homes, Springdale
Builder-Rogers home Martin Building Group, Fayetteville
Decorative accessories Tipton Hurst, Conway, Little Rock, North Little Rock