Meyer likes to use spraypainted produce and nuts. For the Crawfords’ living room mantel, she found gold pine cones at American Plant and pears at Trader Joe’s. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Looking for that perfect, elegantly understated display this holiday season? Bethesda designer
Marika Meyer
has some ideas on how to create a festive home

using lots of organic materials

and a bit of gold and spray paint.

Don’t feel locked into red and green. White, neutrals and metallics serve as wonderful Christmas colors without falling into a cliche, Meyer says. Stick to white poinsettias, she says: “They work in any room and have a beautiful classic holiday form.”

Clementines rest on moss in a clam shell bowl in the Crawfords’ family room. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Hang wreaths on every window. Meyer likes to do this both inside and outside a house, if possible. “Wreaths bring the smell of the holiday into each room, whether it has a Christmas tree in it or not,” Meyer says. Boxwood wreaths are some of her favorites, as they tend to look fresh for weeks.

Consider having bows professionally made. If you want a gorgeous, large bow at the foot of your banister or on your mantel, think about leaving it to the pros. Usually, garden centers will do that for a nominal fee of $3 to $6 a bow for labor. It’s worth it to have them look professional, Meyer says. Bows can be saved from year to year.

Include produce in your decorations. “Think of a produce department as a flower shop,” Meyer says. Hunt for affordable and eco-friendly fruits and vegetables to use as decorative elements. You can layer them around garlands or arrange them on your table. Fill a bowl with green apples or clementines. Even leeks make nice accents.

Use metallic paint to highlight elements. Meyer likes to spray-paint produce and nuts to create a totally different look. In the Crawford house, she coated walnuts and pears with gold paint. She also recommends spraying artichokes, cranberries or pomegranates in silver or gold.