2015 Guide to Holiday Decorating

Nancy Munch doesn’t follow trends and she doesn’t do LED lighting. She’s also one of the foremost decorators for the annual Three Village Historical Society Candlelight House Tour. She’s been at it since 2002, drawing crowds for her ahead-of-the-curve, yet timeless holiday designs. When not gussying up historical homes in seasonal attire, she’s the principal at Open House Country Flowers & Interiors in Stony Brook. She divulged some trade secrets (though not all) on how to achieve nature-inspired, traditional holiday décor.

Long Island Pulse: You’ve said you don’t follow trends, but…what’s trending now for holiday décor?
Nancy Munch: Well, I love plaid, like the classic black watch plaid, houndstooth plaid, I love all that and that’s everywhere now, so I’m trying to avoid it…[but] plaids are really trending right now, like tartan plaids and classic Ralph Lauren. When holiday decorating, foregoing the kitsch can create a timeless winter wonderland.

Pulse: What are ways to bring nature and greenery inside?
NM: Put live greens in a chinoiserie vase (blue and white porcelain)—it’s one of the nicest things you can do, especially for a traditional house. On the wall you can put gorgeous pinecones and greenery. I would say Norway spruce is visually what everybody likes, and incense cedar. Those last the longest and everybody likes cedar because it’s flat and it dries and doesn’t really shed. Norway spruce is good for garland, anything that’s pliable and doesn’t shed. I know Douglas fir sheds very easily but I do a mixed garland with Douglas firs and incense cedar and sometimes I’ll use juniper berries to give some color.

Pulse: What about classic poinsettias?
NM: I knew you were going to ask that…there are some people who love a classic white house with poinsettias and it works with some homes. I’m not a fan. I like to use more berries and amarillos. I think amarillo plants are so much prettier and you can grow them yourself from a bulb and they blossom in the house.

Pulse: And lighting?
NM: Inside, white candles in the window are always classy. I use battery or plug-in, they sit nicely. I actually don’t like the new LED lights, I like the traditional bulb style, especially for outside. And classic white, always white lights. Sometimes I’ll use the colored bulbs, I did them last year on an old farmhouse, it depends on the home. For a midcentury modern, usually the interior is ultra modern. You can introduce a white Christmas tree [and] blue lighting is very cool. You could do that on a spruce wreath. But not the LED blue. Traditional blue light.