Photo by Kate Dreyer.

How do the experts decorate their homes for the holidays? We asked several DC-area designers to let us take a peek into their festive homes and share their approaches to dressing up their digs for the season.

Photo via Mariella Cruzado.
Photo via Mariella Cruzado.
Photo via Mariella Cruzado.
Photo via Mariella Cruzado.

Extra-special and lux

Designer Mariella Cruzado’s holiday decor approach is to “make it extra special,” she says. “For me, the end of the year is a time for reflection and pampering.” That means she fills her Shaw condo with the standard greenery, garlands, and flowers, but she also heightens the drama with candles and faux-fur blankets, and adds shiny pillows and ornaments for sparkle.

Photo via Kate Dreyer.
Photo via Kate Dreyer.
Photo via Kate Dreyer.
Photo via Kate Dreyer.

Bright and easy

Designer Kate Dreyer of Kate Decorates already has a colorful home, but she makes it extra bright for the holidays. “I always do it with what I like to call a ‘normal-person budget’ in mind,” she says—aka easy, cost-friendly festive updates.

For her main Christmas tree, she goes for a homey-meets-cultivated look: She starts with a base layer of ribbons, garlands, and shatterproof ornaments, then her kids add their favorite handmade ornaments to the mix. To add pops of color, she wove velvet ribbon into the brass basket that holds firewood and spray-painted the tree base hot pink.

In the den, Dreyer added felt-ball garland to the windows, velvet ribbon to her collection of vintage tennis racquets, and a smaller tree decorated with gold ornaments passed down from her grandmother.

Photo via Tracy Morris.
Photo via Tracy Morris.
Photo via Tracy Morris.
Photo via Tracy Morris.

Simple, but festive

Interior designer Tracy Morris of Tracy Morris Design is the person who starts decorating right after Thanksgiving. She used to be a holiday over-achiever: “Homemade wreaths, fresh garland everywhere, two trees, vases of fresh greenery—you get the idea,” she says. But she’s started taking a more pared-down approach in recent years, and now only decorates the rooms she spends the most time in. She puts a tree in her family room, garlands throughout the main floor, and a wreath on the front door. “It’s enough to make the house feel festive, but not so much that it makes you crazy,” she says.

Photo by Byron Risdon.

Small-space maximalism

DC interior designer Byron Risdon of Byron Risdon LLC is all-in on holiday decor. “I’m originally from the South, where we tend to go big on decorations,” he says. “So I’m no stranger to a maximalist tree.”

Because he doesn’t have a lot of room in his apartment, he can’t go crazy with garlands and wreaths, so he goes for a space-saving, skinny tree with flocking, ornaments, and lights. “I’m one of those people who can’t wait to put up the decorations,” says Risdon. “My birthday is in early November, so my gift to myself is to put them up the first weekend in order to have more time to enjoy them.”

Image via Jamie Merida.
Image via Jamie Merida.
Image via Jamie Merida.
Image via Jamie Merida.
Image via Jamie Merida.
Image via Jamie Merida.

Traditional-meets-modern

“My personal aesthetic is an eclectic amalgamation of timeless antiques and modern art,” says Easton-based designer Jamie Merida of Jamie Merida Interiors. Same goes for his decorating approach for the holidays—traditional style with modern twists.

He typically starts outside, decorating the front door and lamp post with evergreen, magnolia leaves, sparkling lights, and red-and-green touches. Inside, he has two trees—one in the family room, which he decorates as an homage to the outdoors with ornaments shaped like wildlife or flora and fauna, and one the in the living room, which he stages more formally with gold elements.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian

Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.