How to Work Faux Bois, One of Martha's Favorite Patterns, Into Your Holiday Decorations

From textiles to tabletop accents, use this versatile motif as a neutral background or showstopping highlight.

Photo: Pieter Estersohn

Though faux bois may sound like the type of high-fashion design element most amateurs can't easily incorporate into their décor, it's really just a fancy term for a simple pattern that imitates wood grain (Martha loves it!). By changing the color and scale of the pattern, you can use it for everything from fabrics to cake frosting, making it an organic, inviting addition to your holiday decorations. "When we think of the holiday season, we think of warm, cozy nights by the fire," say Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch, owners of Hidden Gem, a home boutique in Southampton, New York. "Faux bois can bring that outdoor, woodsy feeling into the home." Ahead, exactly how to work this earthy motif into your seasonal décor and celebrations this year.

Choose your scale.

One of the most versatile elements of faux bois is that it looks more or less abstract depending on the scale you choose. "This print can be used anywhere! The larger design is perfect for statement pieces, for people who don't want to be overwhelmed by the pattern, or for those who want to layer with other patterns," says Willock. "A smaller scale is excellent for stand-alone pieces or focal points. The smaller the scale, the more you're exposed to the full details of the pattern—you can even find rollers that create the pattern while you paint."

Choose your colors.

Natural-looking faux bois will come in shades that mimic organic wooden tones—brown, white, gray—while jewel tones, brights, or pastels combine the earthiness of the print with a modern color palette. "We love the pattern in classic brown tones, but incorporating it into your home in an exciting color palette can allow the print to stretch across a wide variety of aesthetics," says Willock-Morsch. "Aside from the traditional whites, grays, and browns, you can also find the print in shades of blues, pinks, reds, and greens. If you're looking to add color to your space, using the faux bois in brighter shades helps the pattern take center stage in your house."

Add faux bois to your holiday tablescape.

Design a holiday table with faux bois elements like linens, chargers, or menus. "It's a great and easy way to add accent pieces to the table, from runners and paper napkins to fun dinner plates and placemats," says Willock. "A larger faux bois pattern is great for tablecloths and runners; you can layer other pieces on top." Looking for even more tabletop ideas? Lay out appetizers on a faux bois platter, create a faux bois pattern in the icing on your famous sugar cookies, or use papers and ribbon to create seasonal place cards.

Look for faux bois textiles.

Swapping out your fall-toned accents for winter accessories also provides an ideal opportunity for incorporating faux bois. "If you're new to patterns, adding a few pillows or even a few indoor planters with the pattern is a stress-free way to incorporate it into your home," says Willock-Morsch. More long-term changes—like custom rugs or window treatments—can add an organic element to your décor in any season, but temporary options help cozy your space without the commitment. "If you're just looking to use the print for the holidays or winter season, try using it on bedding, a throw blanket, or a Christmas tree skirt," says Willock.

Coordinate with faux bois gift wrap.

Replace conventional wrapping paper prints—like bold stripes, cartoony reindeer, or glittery snow scenes—with neutral faux bois patterns to create an elevated, outdoors-inspired aesthetic at your holiday party. "When it comes to the holidays, we go the extra mile with gift wrapping," says Willock-Morsch. "We are always mixing wrapping paper in sets, so faux bois is a great neutral for us—plus it works great for a single gift with some lovely ribbon."

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