Pro Tips For Prepping Your Home For The Holidays

December 11, 2023

When it comes to showing a room—or even an entire house—in its best light, there are few Torontonians as savvy as Gillian Oxley, founder of Oxley Real Estate. Gillian’s mid-town based agency has been catering to an elite clientele since 2014. Known for its “white glove” signature service, the Oxley full service offering includes staging—what Gillian calls the secret ingredient to sparking a bidding war. We caught up with Gillian just in time for the holidays to get her best tips and tricks for preparing your home for the festive season. —Vita Daily

Let’s talk about elevating the home for the holidays. What are your top tips?

Holiday glamour is about creating an atmosphere that combines opulence with the spirit of celebration. I suggest:

  • Soft Lighting: Use string lights, candles, and fairy lights to add a cozy and festive glow.
  • Seasonal Scents: Infuse your home with the scents of the season using candles, diffusers, or potpourri.
  • Seasonal Greenery: Consider placing small arrangements in various rooms for a cohesive feel.
  • Festive Table Setting: Set a festive table with themed dinnerware, napkins, and centerpieces. Consider adding name cards or other clever touches like items you can find in your own garden such as cedar branches to personalize your table settings.

When it comes to purchasing new decor items, do you have a favourite source?

I believe in investing in marquee statement pieces that become the focal point of the room. My go-to destination for unique investment pieces is Palazetti or South Hill Homes but I’m a big fan of mixing “high/low” so I love to blend in pieces from CB2 or even sometimes Ikea!  I find that mixing up decor items that are budget friendly can instantly add freshness and vibrancy to your home and if you tire of them it doesn’t break the bank to change them.

What are your thoughts on a fresh coat of paint for Christmas? 

Painting a room in a festive color that suits the existing aesthetic of your home can help set the mood for the holiday season and create a joyful atmosphere. There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to refresh your space and make it feel warm and inviting for guests. The strategic use of colour is a great way to highlight and accentuate your home’s architectural features. Think about applying festive colour to an accent wall for fun—it won’t take more than a few hours and is something most people can do themselves.

What colours say “home for the holidays”?

  • Rich Jewel Tones: deep, rich jewel tones like emerald green, burgundy, or sapphire blue. These colors evoke luxury and warmth, creating a regal backdrop for holiday festivities.
  • Subtle Earth Tones: For a more understated approach, consider subtle earth tones such as muted greens, warm browns, or soft terracotta. These colors provide a cozy and inviting atmosphere, perfect for holiday gatherings.
  • Classic Red Accents: If a full room repaint seems a bit much, consider adding classic red accents to existing walls. This could take the form of an accent wall, artwork, or decor items. Red accents symbolize the holiday spirit without overwhelming the space.

When I think of the holidays, I think of these colours. Traditional Christmas colours exude a timeless elegance that’s for sure. But if you’re open to a more avant-garde approach, try experimenting these palettes:

  • Champagne and Cream: The combination of champagne gold and creamy neutrals exudes understated luxury and creates a serene, sophisticated atmosphere.
  • Sapphire Blue and Silver: Nothing like a mix of deep sapphire blue paired with silver accents to conjure up holiday spirit. This combination is a regal and modern twist to traditional holiday colors.
  • Black and Rose Gold: For a rich and indulgent ambiance, black always hits the spot – combine it with rose gold which is very ‘on trend’ right now to ensure your choices are current yet a bit of a surprise.
  • Emerald Green and Navy: For a refined and sophisticated aesthetic, try mixing emerald green and navy blue. The pairing is unexpected yet classic enough to work with most interior spaces.

In terms of furniture, what statement pieces come to mind when you think about the holidays?

The right statement pieces can elevate the festive atmosphere – and work year-round with what you already have. Here are a few key pieces that come to mind:

  • Velvet Upholstered Chairs: Plush velvet chairs in rich colors not only provide comfort but also bring a touch of sophistication to the dining room. Opt for high-quality craftsmanship and unique design details.
  • Statement Fireplace Mantel: If the home has a fireplace, an ornate mantel becomes a natural focal point. Adorn it with tasteful holiday decorations, garlands, or a carefully curated collection of candles.
  • Custom-designed Centerpiece Table: A coffee or accent table with a unique and eye-catching design can serve as the perfect centerpiece for holiday decor. Look for detailing, high-quality materials, and a design that complements the surrounding furnishings.
  • Luxury Lounge Furniture: Create a cozy and inviting atmosphere with high-quality lounge furniture. Think plush sofas, oversized chairs, and ottomans that invite guests to relax and enjoy the festivities in comfort and style.

Any final tips?

Absolutely. Here are four of them:

  • Curate a Cohesive Theme: Choose a theme that aligns with the overall aesthetic of your home. Whether it’s a winter wonderland, a classic Christmas, or a modern and minimalist approach, maintaining a cohesive ‘story’ enhances the visual impact.
  • Focus on Quality Over Quantity: Select a few standout, high-quality decor pieces rather than overwhelming spaces with numerous items. This approach emphasizes sophistication and allows each element to shine.
  • Consider Year-Round Versatility: Invest in decor items that can seamlessly transition beyond the holiday season. Versatile pieces like gorgeous vases can be repurposed or integrated into your year-round interior design, ensuring a timeless appeal.
  • Stay Minimalist in High-Traffic Areas: Maintain a level of practicality, especially in high-traffic areas. Opt for minimalist decor in hallways and entryways to ensure ease of movement during what just may be the busiest time of year for your home.


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