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Elizabeth Boland on seasonal decorating


Pumpkins might be ripe on the vine, but October is not the month to go into gourd overload. Designer Elizabeth Boland said she approaches seasonal design in the same way she approaches all of her projects: putting her own twist on traditional pieces, while keeping it simple.

“For any holiday, just a little added touch of something seasonal,” Boland said. “Accessories or decorations are all you need.”

After graduating from college in 2005, Boland began working with her mother, Carolyn Wilson, who 20 years ago started the Chevy Chase-based firm Design in a Day.

“She broke her foot, so I was driving her to clients’ homes,” Boland said. “That’s how I got started, because I didn’t study design in college.”

She and her mother now do everything from simple color consultations to more extensive commercial and residential design projects. Boland said she is working on several kitchen designs, as well as a nursery for herself — Boland and her husband are expecting their first child in December.

Elizabeth Boland.

Boland recently chatted by phone about her work and her ideas for seasonal design, fall decor and more.

How do you approach seasonal design?

I do know some people have slipcovers for summer that they change, but many people don’t have a budget for changes every four seasons. Accessories and decor changes are the best ways to incorporate seasonal style into your house — even just adding different pillows or an extra throw blanket in your living room.

Holiday parties are when you can really get creative. For Christmas, I love working with fresh magnolia leaves and pheasant feathers. Place the feathers in candle holders or skinny vases, or mix them with flower arrangements that you can put on your dining table. One year I put them in my Christmas tree.

And if you’re hosting Thanksgiving, focus on the dining room. My mom has a great burlap table cloth that I love. It’s very rustic.

What colors or prints are your go-tos for fall?

For fall and winter, my go-tos would probably be animal prints like cheetah and leopard, burlap, faux ostrich leather or vinyl in pumpkin or brown tones, and wool plaid blankets. Hermes Orange would also be a staple color for fall, too.

How was your house decorated for the holidays growing up, and how did that influence your style as an adult?

My mom goes crazy for holiday decorating. We always had more decorations than I would use now. But we didn’t have lots of bright colored lights or anything too flashy. I think I don’t decorate as much for holidays because I don’t have children, but my mom has always influenced my style. I learned from her.

What are some fall decor ideas?

Switch your candles to browns, reds and oranges. Pottery Barn has these great candles that are painted to look like birch. It’s the little things, and things that feel and look harvesty and rustic. That is very fall to me.

For your entranceway and front door, have a wreath. They are not just for Christmas anymore. There are wreaths for different seasons. I just had my client get one in an orange color. They also come in pumpkin color, or even orange and black for Halloween.

Do you have any go-to sources for wreaths? Any advice for picking one?

I like the Magnolia Co., which is the store my client chose their orange one from. They have a good fall harvest selection this year, and I spotted them on One Kings Lane this week. We sell Magnolia Wreath Co. products around Christmastime every year. As for advice, find one you like and make sure it is the right size for your door.

Halloween is coming up. Do you have any design tips?

Have real pumpkins and natural items. Use things like gourds and ears of corn on your mantel or on a side table. If you’re having an adult Halloween party, place pumpkins and gourds on your table. It’s is very fall and time-appropriate without being tacky. There are not as many rules around holiday decorating, but keeping things simple is best.

How do you design your own home for Halloween?

I would personally never have [inflatable lawn ornaments]. Some yards may have eight big blow-up pumpkins, and maybe their kids love them. And I would also never do window stickers. Those should be left for schools. But my mom goes crazy. She has tombstones in her front yard and a gargoyle that she has glued moss on.

Margaret Ely is a digital editor for Lifestyle. Previously, she was an intern for the Post’s Metro section.



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