Designer and lifestyle doyenne Tricia Foley is known for her simple monochrome interiors, which are rich in texture and detail and convey a sense of calm and simplicity. Although her interiors are effortless in appearance, Tricia has been honing and streamlining this approach to living for many years now. With the release of her latest book, Life|Style: Elegant Simplicity at Home, we asked her to share some of her ideas for enjoying a simple Christmas holiday season. Here are her 10 suggestions.
Photography by Marili Forastieri except where noted.
Above: Tricia is a proponent of customizing store-bought wreaths. This one is spray-painted white and hung above an all-white mantlepiece.
1. Customize a store-bought wreath.
If you want to avoid getting sap on your hands or fiddling with a circular form, Tricia suggests stocking up on wreaths from the local garden center then adding your own clippings–in her case, privet berries, boxwood, and holly, all greenery that’s she’s snipped in her yard. As she explains, the additions make the wreaths “fresher, more lush and add fragrance.”
2. Hang wreaths everywhere, not just the door.
Tricia’s secret weapon for hanging wreaths? Cup hooks from the local hardware store. Just screw them into the door and hang the wreath. Don’t limit wreaths to a door, hang them all around the home including over fireplaces, in windows, and on outdoor buildings.
Above: A tree stand wrapped in burlap.
3. Stick to white lights.
Tricia sticks to little white lights: “They’re a classic that never goes out of style,” she says. For this outdoor tree, she wrapped the base in the burlap that she typically uses to protect her plants and herb garden from frost. For indoors, she sometimes uses giant planters or an old whiskey barrel for a tree base.
4. Layer on the greenery.
If you have a tree in a big pot or container, consider filling the top with bits of greenery, pinecones, or moss.
5. Be creative with your tree skirt.
This year Tricia is using three sheepskins to cover the base of a tree for a client in New York, but notes that old wool blankets and throws draped around and under the tree also work.
Above: A mini Christmas tree in glass.
6. No room for a tree?
Take an evergreen bough and putting it in a glass cylinder or vase; it’s an easy, economical way to add a bit of festive greenery to your interiors.
7. Don’t make everything from scratch when entertaining.
Trisha confesses that she is much more interested in setting the table than cooking and has no problem with both making and buying food. As she notes, “so many people are overly ambitious about making every single thing.” Her advice, make some food and buy the rest, stocking up ahead of time on wines, waters, crackers, nuts, crisps so you are ready should anyone drop by.
Above: A winter table setting. Tricia’s trademark look includes mixing old and new pieces and adding texture with wooden boards. She likes to mix pieces such as vintage silver with new Ikea white glassware, and straw mats with a driftwood cutting board for serving. Photograph by Jeff McNamara.
8. Keep the hors d’oeuvres simple and plentiful.
A favorite standby is a large platter of antipasti. Tricia uses a big white ceramic tray that she fills with olives, chunks of provolone, rolls of prosciutto, breadsticks, roasted peppers, and artichokes. It’s her version of tapas. She uses bread and butter plates, since they’re “the perfect size for hors d’oeuvres.” She places the tray in the kitchen with bottles of wine so people can help themselves while she’s getting dinner ready, and, as she puts it, “ people always hang around in the kitchen anyway.”
9. Serve holiday drinks with a visual punch.
Besides stocking up on red and white wine, Tricia likes to bring in prosecco for the holidays. For a brunch, she’ll create a juice bar with blood orange juice, tomato juice, and pink grapefruit juice in recycled glass bottles with labels (or glass carafes and pitchers) so guests can mix their own drinks and add sparkling water, vodka, or prosecco.
Above: Sprigs of greenery adorn packages wrapped in faux-bois and kraft paper.
10. Keep gift wrapping simple.
Tricia has two giant holly trees outside her house, and she likes to take cuttings and add little sprigs to packages wrapped in newsprint or repurposed wallpapers and the like that she has saved. A proponent of the handmade card, she notes, “It’s nice to do something personal whether it’s a small card for a gift tag or a card put in the mail, people really appreciate it.”
Life|Style, Elegant Simplicity at Home features Tricia’s 18th-century farmhouse on Long Island, with an overview of the elements of style and her approach to pared-down design and living; $24.75 from Amazon. Photograph by Jeff McNamara.
Looking for other ideas on how to entertain? Check out: