The Best Color Palettes and Textures for Holiday Decorating

Get into the holiday spirit with these designer-approved accents and hues.

The most wonderful time of the year will be here before you know it, so now's a better time than any to bust out the ornaments, garlands, and boughs of holly. Before you do, you might want to think long and hard about the colors and textiles you choose to incorporate in your space. After all, too many sources of inspiration will make your home feel like a holiday overload. (And, no, not necessarily in a good way.) Red and green might seem like the obvious palette but, as interior designer John McClain points out, it's not exactly foolproof. "The color wheel is full of amazing combinations that can bring in the holiday ambience, but in a fresh and unexpected way," the Los Angeles and Orlando-based designer explains. "To be honest, unless your home finishes and furnishings are completely neutral, a collection of red-and-green accents will appear out of place."

Ultimately, it's important to select shades and textiles that both reflect your personal style and the décor you choose to fill your space with year-round. "I strongly feel that you have to make your holiday celebration memorable for your family and friends that gather at your home," shares New Jersey-based designer Gail Davis. "You want them to walk away having a great time and really 'feel' the love of the holiday." If you are in need of some inspiration, read on for some under-the-radar—yet undeniably stylish—palettes and accents to incorporate this year. If these designers' thoughts are any indication, these concepts have all made the spatial nice list.

living room christmas decorations
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A Pop of Purple

If you want to shake up your home's holiday dress—but don't want to completely discard your pre-existing decorations—you might want to consider replacing one hue of the traditional red-and-green palette. "It is important to incorporate a color that feels festive to you and mix it in with the traditional," Davis shares. "I once switched out the red for purple for a family gathering and it was a big hit." The perfect mix of warm and cool tones, purple is a great alternative to red—not to mention it'll be visually soothing against green. For an elegant touch, consider pairing some lush greens with a violet ribbon, which will look lovely everywhere from your front door's wreath to that bare stairway railing.

Pack on the Plush Details

There's something about the holidays that makes us all want to curl up in a bunch of cozy layers, so why not incorporate that into your seasonal decorations? "You want to make sure that there are a lot of soft textures," Davis says. "I incorporate cashmere throws with velvet bows that crinkle when touched. There is something that reminds me of my own childhood holidays at my grandparents' home on Long Island." Want to give your space another comfortable edge? Take a cue from Davis, who peppers those tactile environments throughout her space, creating a warm display in the process. "And there is a plethora of pillows that can be tossed on the floor when we run out of chairs, ottomans, and sofa space," she adds.

Put a Twist on the Classics

If you'd prefer to go for the bold, consider trading in both hues for something less conventional. "I decorate for the holidays while being considerate of the home's existing furnishings," McClain shares. "I then enhance the current palettes of each room by turning up the dial on those existing colors, instead of introducing competing ones." While your home's décor will play a major role in finding the perfect scheme, McClain shares that he has an affinity for shades of blue and rust orange. "I pulled the tones of teal and rust from some colorful toss pillows and repeated the accents throughout the home to create a holiday rhythm that is hard to beat," the designer explains.

Try a One-Hue Wonder

When it comes to your holiday palette, less can really be more. "It's easy to only think of one tone of a color, but my pro tip is to use varying shades of the same hue to truly create an original and inventive story," McClain explains. "For instance, blues and greens with the same undertones will always live in perfect harmony together." By experimenting with different shades and textures—think ribbons, plush throws, and shiny tins—you can create a space that feels warm and welcoming. But, which hue should you select? For McClain, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. "Choose colors for your festive décor that might be a bit of departure from the norm; but are bright, cheery, sparkly, and make you happy," he shares.

Get Creative with Your Greens

From the wreath that hangs on your front door to the well-appointed Christmas tree that hangs inside, foliage is an integral part of any holiday setup, but if you want to add an unexpected texture to your space, you might want to reconsider the standard pine. "The tree and tree trimmings will bring in the natural texture of nature, but I also enjoy bringing natural holiday décor to other spaces," McClain shares. "[I've made] wreaths are made of bay leaves and rosemary. This fun and practical wreath—you can pull off the herbs and cook all season—can warm up the coldest of backdrops." Or, to create a serious "wow" factor, you might want to consider where you place your greens in the first place. "To add more to the unexpected texture category, I turned a smaller tree into a chandelier by hanging it upside down over the kitchen table," he adds. "Add battery powered lights, some gold branches for the 'roots,' colorful ornaments, and voila: a holiday tree chandelier is born!"

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