Christmas Decor when Selling your House
Q: My house is going on the market. Can I still have Christmas decorations up?
Tara O’Connor, events stylist and founder of The Designed Table, offers her expert advice.
A: Properties advertised in December may still be on the market in springtime, so the photography should be as timeless as possible. Once that’s done, you can decorate as you normally would. If you’re selling a family home, people will expect it to look Christmassy in December, but be sensitive. Remember that not all families celebrate Christmas.
When it comes to Christmas décor, I always think that less is more! Keep it as minimal as possible, and don’t overpower the house. A wreath on the door is welcoming in any home. I like a natural wreath with holly, eucalyptus, and seasonal berries. I put mine up on 1 December. In January, I take off the berries and change the bow. Attach it to the door with cable ties!
I’d always recommend keeping the hallway clear. You don’t want people tripping over a giant inflatable Santa-sleigh. Instead, go for subtle detail. I have a low lamp and a little hedgehog decoration for my hall table – and that’s all. I also love to run a garland of pine branches up between the banisters, while not obscuring the handrail. Mine is faux pine from Balsam Hill. It’s hardwearing, very realistic and comes pre-lit with amber lights. The cable ties are handy here too. I use them to secure the garland to the banisters and then fluff up the branches to hid them.
I would definitely do a tree, wherever your space allows. I have mine in the main living area because Santa comes down the chimney, but the basic rule of thumb is that a tree should sit in a space without taking over the room. Remember to buy one that’s the right height for the room, including the stand. A seven-foot tree, for example, requires a room with an eight-foot ceiling.
There are pros and cons to real and artificial trees but you can’t have a real tree if you have underfloor heating, so mine is faux. I bought it from Rathwood in County Carlow and I expect it to last for 18-20 years. I always begin with the lights, which are warm white LEDs, otherwise it’s too bright.
Most of my decorations are silver, purple and white. I add to the collection every year, usually at Johnstown Garden Centre near Naas in County Kildare. I start at the bottom and work my way down – it’s my pride and joy! The kids have their own tree in the family room. We all decorate that one together, I just put the delicate stuff high up.
Otherwise, I pretty much leave my home décor as it is. I don’t change the cushions. You don’t want to walk in and say – oh my God, this is too much! When I place snow globes around the house, I always take away what’s already there. If I’m adding a Christmas candle, I’ll remove the existing candle arrangement. Because I’m replacing rather than adding decorations, the space doesn’t get too crowded.
Now my children are older, I can leave a Christmas runner on the table. When they were small I couldn’t do that because they’d pull it down. And I like a simple centrepiece of holly around a red Christmas candle. I wouldn’t use a scented candle here because my table is in the kitchen I don’t like fragrance near food.
If you love an over-the-top Christmas, remember that most viewings stop for the final two weeks of the year. If you want to go mad with the décor – that’s your chance!
For Tara O’Connor’s winter collection of table accessories, napkins and placements, see thedesignedtable.com