See How Kevin Sharkey Decorates His New York City Apartment—Using Metallics and Subtle Shimmer—for Christmas

tree presents view New York Christmas
Photo: Stephen K Johnson

Come December, Kevin Sharkey, our executive vice president and executive design director, decorates his modernist Manhattan apartment with displays that sparkle and shine to the nines. He shares his exuberant vision—and a few of his top styling and entertaining secrets, too.

01 of 09
DIY wreath materials sparkle silver
Stephen K Johnson

Every year, Kevin Sharkey devotes pretty much an entire December weekend to decorating the 14-foot tree that grazes the ceiling of his sleek New York City apartment overlooking the Hudson River. "You'd think it would take longer because the tree is so tall, but it actually goes by pretty quickly," he says. Moreover, he enjoys every minute of it, and his efforts are fueled by the excitement of good times—and good friends—to come. There's a thoughtful method to his yuletide madness, too. He stores his ornaments in bins organized by type, then arranges similar ones in groups before hanging them. "It's a great exercise of all my styling muscles and instincts," he says. "I want it to look like it's encrusted in baubles." And to that end, he goes for it. "Sometimes more is more."

Kevin, currently the executive vice president and executive design director of the Martha Stewart brand, has been flexing those muscles for decades. For more than 25 years, he has styled rooms, photo shoots, and flowers by Martha's side. His tree drips with memories, in the form of ornaments he's amassed over his time with the brand, including from Martha's original holiday collections for Kmart, the old Martha by Mail catalog, and the current line for "They range from the cheapest plastic snowflakes to glass pinecones. They mix with pieces I bought at Liberty of London and, of course, Jamali Garden," he says of the New York City floral-and-event-supply mecca. "I typically stick to gold, silver, pearls, or clear—things that catch the light."

He does the same when setting the bar and table for his annual get-together with friends—and wrapping presents. "While I love double-faced satin ribbons, which are the most luxurious in the world, I really have a soft spot for those synthetic bows that come 10 or 20 to a bag—they're like the carnations of gift-wrapping," he says, referring to his favorite flower. One of his go-to tricks is nestling two self-adhesive bows together and snipping the loops with scissors to create a topper that's as frilly as a peony.

If Kevin pulls out all the stops at Christmastime, well, that's the entire point. "I share it with the people I love, so I really go to that extra level of effort," he says. "And having the same palette for the tree, paper, and ribbons is just a nice way of completing the package—no pun intended. It makes everything hang together so beautifully."

Here, to create a wreath to hang above his bar, he wired inexpensive rhinestone snowflake ornaments and jeweled crystal drops to a 30-inch form he'd spray-painted silver.

Art Direction by Ryan Mesina; Styling by Kevin Sharkey

02 of 09

High Style

tree presents view New York Christmas
Stephen K Johnson

After Kevin oversaw the design of Martha's pre-lit Christmas trees, he had one made to skim his apartment's extra-tall ceilings. It was a revelation not to have to find the perfect real tree each winter—and there's never a bad angle or bald spot. The tree, available in four heights, and ornaments can be found at

03 of 09

Wintry Welcome

swag greenery bathroom mirror
Stephen K Johnson

In his foyer, Kevin hangs a bough of fresh evergreen clippings ("I love the smell!"), embellished with glass pinecones and a metallic ribbon bow saved from a photo shoot. The godfather to 10 children, including Martha's grandkids, "Uncle Kevin" piles silver-painted boxes shaped like walnuts on a Georg Jensen silver tray. They're filled with little gifts, like keychains, jacks, and candy, for when they visit.

04 of 09

Silver Touches

Kevin Sharkey kitchen apartment
Stephen K Johnson

Kevin pulls silver pieces for the table.

05 of 09

Frond Aloha

tropical centerpiece pineapples fruit
Stephen K Johnson

"Pineapples are a universal symbol of welcome," says Kevin of his tropical centerpieces. He orders Maui Gold pineapples from Hawaii, embellishes the foliage with large epiphytes (aka air plants), and rests them on stacked silver cake stands laden with kumquats, grapefruits, tangerines, pomelos, lemons, and Meyer lemons: "When I was a kid, I always got citrus in my Christmas stocking."

06 of 09

Shining Examples

centerpiece table oranges greenery
Stephen K Johnson

"As contemporary as my place is, there are things about old-world entertaining I really admire," Kevin says. He sets his ebonized table with monogrammed linen napkins, vintage mother-of-pearl knives, and old English hexagonal china plates topped by hotel-silver domes. A self-described "salt-aholic," he places individual glass salt and pepper cellars at each setting, along with a silver dish holding a marzipan clementine for a sweet treat. The glasses are Baccarat crystal.

  • 10 Holiday Table Settings Perfect for Any Celebration
07 of 09

Happy Hour

diy silver wreath bar cocktails
Stephen K Johnson

When guests arrive, Kevin pours French 75 cocktails into Lobmeyr crystal coupes and sets them on a pair of Warren McArthur console tables under his DIY wreath. To raise the bar even higher, he fills mercury-glass containers with hellebores and a mix of fresh and silver-spray-painted evergreens.

08 of 09

Hang Time

silver ornament icicles tree decorations
Stephen K Johnson

Kevin likes the ease of pre-lit trees (no wrestling with tangled wires). He puts the largest ornaments on the branches that extend directly from the trunk. "Then I work my way out, and get smaller and smaller as I get to the ends," he says. Swags of glass silver beads come next, to add a horizontal element. "I finish with vertical shapes, like icicles."

09 of 09

Pretty Packages

metallic gift presents wrapping ribbons
Stephen K Johnson

"I love the way metallic ribbons and paper reflect light when they're under a tree," Kevin says. He also knows they can be challenging to fold around edges and corners. "You have to have sharp scissors, tape at the ready, and a flat, hard surface to spread out on, like a dining-room table," he advises. Still too unwieldy? He suggests using textured metallic papers or ones with metallic details; they're more forgiving.

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