Try color to expand space this holiday season

November 05, 2005|By CHRISTINE BRUN

Once or twice a year the small home is put to the test regarding comfortably hosting and decorating. You love the holidays, but you wonder how you can duplicate the sumptuous look of larger rooms for your seasonal entertaining.

A simple secret is that you can use gorgeous colors to warm your table and room. Color dazzles the viewer, evokes the festive spirit and distracts your guests from the cramped nature of your small home. Learn to use this incredible tool your advantage.

The luscious silk napkins shown here would read as fall leaves on your table in crimson, tart green and aged purple. With these napkins you might fill a low platter with green apples and mound Queen Anne's lace in the center. Or go against the typical choices: Use strawberries, if they're available, for your red color coupled with greens.

When you select flowers, try to stay away from the typical prearranged yellow mums. Visit a wholesale flower market or a florist. There you can select your own blossoms and choose interesting greens to accompany them on your table.


Think about cornstalks, green artichokes and red chilies. Opt for unusual and unexpected flowers such as white peonies combined with golden thistles.

A low arrangement will make your room and table seem larger. Look for a low glass dish or bowl and arrange the flowers into a composition that can sit on the table during the dinner without blocking conversation.

If you need the area in the center of the table for serving food but want to use flowers for color, use tiny bud vases at each place setting. A simple way to do this is to use shot glasses at each plate and insert the colored blossoms for each guest to savor.

If the size of your table is a problem, try this old trick: Protect your table with a soft cloth and then lay a plywood board over that. Have the plywood cut to a standard size so that shopping for linens will be easier. Then carry on decorating as you would with a larger table. Just make sure that if a guest leans on the board it will be stable.

Folding chairs can solve your seating dilemma. An attractive tortoiseshell style can be found at Home Depot Expo. Good-quality birch or maple folding chairs are also available from resources such as IKEA, Pottery Barn and Target.

Reinforce your chosen colors with garlands over the windows. Start with a good base of artificial greenery. For Thanksgiving accent it with pomegranates, pears and nuts. Add ribbons that reflect the colors of your table linens. In December, alter the feeling with snowflakes, candy canes, pine cones and red velvet bows.

When you have limited space, it is the subtle things that can reinforce your holiday theme - like changing the throw on the sofa or the color of candles in the holders. Bring out holiday theme pillows and stash the usual fare under your bed.

Get rid of any clutter during the holidays. Make room for special decorations to breathe in your space. And whatever else you do, warm and brighten your rooms with seasonal color.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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