Marika Meyer on holiday decorating | Home Front

Marika Meyer
Dec 17, 2015

A native of the District, Marika Meyer established Marika Meyer Interiors in 2007, where she creates beautiful environments that are both sophisticated and livable. Meyers and her team take a personal approach to design by making each space reflect the homeowner's lifestyle. Among her specialties are family-friendly designs and festive, elegant seasonal décor, incorporating heirlooms as well as entertainment tips and tricks for large and small gatherings.

She recently decorated an Alexandria home for the holiday season, which was featured in the week's Local Living section.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

Today's subject is holiday decorating and Marika Meyer has showed how to decorate a home in an elegant and festive way in an article on a house in Alexandria  you can read here. Marika, a native of Washington, D.C., established Marika Meyer Interiors in 2007, where she creates beautiful environments that are both sophisticated and livable. We have written about several of her DC Design House rooms and some of other work. Excited to get started so let's chat.

Thank you Jura for having me! I love this time of year when we get to decorate clients' homes for the holidays. It puts us all in a festive spirit!

My garlands never look "lush" no matter how much I embellish them. I must be doing something wrong?

I think the most important thing to remember in holiday décor is to use ample greens. I always buy at least double the amount I think I need and end up using it all. Keep this in mind for floral arrangements as well!

Love the spray painted walnuts and pears in today's feature. What else would you recommend spray painting and are silver and gold the best colors to use?

I love using spray paint for accents. I generally stick with silver and gold. In the past I have paired silver mini pumpkins with white and gray pumpkins for Halloween. I also use small objects and paint them for table top accessories. In the 2014 DC Design House I used small children’s toy animals and painted them gold which was an unexpected surprise!

I'm not into trends when it comes to my holiday decorations or my home's style. I like timeless designs that I don't need to change every few years. But sometimes I do want to freshen up a room. Any thoughts on best way to make a subtle change with big impact?

Try to use new greens. For example if you traditionally use Magnolia, try a change to Cedar or Boxwood. In addition, you can easily add something with subtle sparkle like mercury glass for a bit of festivity!


There is no chat for the next two weeks due to the holidays. The next chat will be Jan 7.

Do you think a wreath looks better plain or with a red bow or pinecone trim - this is for the front door.

For the front door I like a bit of embellishment whether it is a linen bow or the addition of juniper, holly, or pinecones. I normally keep it simpler on the interior and just use linen or bows to hang the wreaths at the top.

I have a couple dozen lovely little (like maybe just over 1" big) green glass Christmas balls that I inherited from my grandmother. I stopped putting them on the tree several years ago, because I would always lose one or two every year either because it fell & broke or it would go out the door on the tree on January 6th(ish). I've tried putting them in a bowl as a center piece, but they're either dwarfed in a bowl that's too big or just kind of boring in a bowl that's closer to the right size. Any ideas?

I would add some greens or moss to the base of the bowl to create a bed that lifts the glass balls. The greens will turn into the backdrop and the focus can remain on the antique ornaments.

I want to display more seasonal items, but run out of room on side tables, etc. Any suggestions for getting more space to showcase my favorite things?

We are often confronted with storage issues on projects, especially with families. We add millwork to most of our projects to address the need for both open and concealed storage. These are great areas to add seasonal objects and personal displays. One trick I do is add birch scrolls on the front of my bookcases and then pin holiday cards to them so I can see all the wonderful smiling faces of friends and family on holiday cards.

Check out some of our custom built ins on

I usually visit the DC Design House every spring and remember the dining room you created. The Design House is a great source of design inspiration for visitors. What's it like for designers? What's the best part of being involved?

The DC Design House is a lot of fun for designers! I always enjoy decorating a room in the house when it is an older home and there are unique quirks to figure out. I think most people in the area have homes that have challenges and it is nice to be able to speak about creative problem solving when visitors come through.

I read about how you used Pinterest to review inspiration boards for holiday decor, great idea. Do you use Pinterest often when working with homeowners on other designs? Do the homeowners have boards they share, too?

We love to use Pinterest as a tool to communicate with clients! It is a great way to share quick ideas and inspiration. Most clients do have boards that they have saved and are eager to show us when we start a new project.

We have a large family so we tend to worry more about where to put everyone for holiday meals, instead of the decorations. Can you share some quick and easy tips for adding just a touch of holiday cheer?

An easy trick that is inexpensive and easy to implement (even for a busy family!) is to buy greens (cut boxwood, cedar, juniper) and add touches of them around the house. I lay cedar on the top of my bookcases and secretary in my dining room to get the smell of the holidays without a large tree. I also love to add simple wreaths in windows. It is a great way to get the spirit without taking up too much room!

How long is a reasonable amount of time to spend on decorating one's home for the holidays? I don't have a lot of free time due to young children, so I'm not sure how much energy I want to invest in decorating. I think that for me, just setting up a Christmas tree will already take a few hours at least.

I have young children as well and know how difficult it is to decorate with little feet and hands around! I find that whenever I am out I will pick up wreaths, flowers, greens as I see them.  A little holiday decorating goes a long way. One of my favorite easy and quick tricks is to pick up a paper white plant (they have them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s). I put one on my side table and it instantly brought in a little holiday flare without time or trouble.

hi, not so much a holiday question but an orphan ottoman question....we were generously given an Ethan Allen leather ottoman (which we would never have been able to buy ourselves). it should fit in our house somewhere. But it doesn't. the main living room is in dark reds, pale green and cream-but the ottoman just looks awkward in front of a red/white plaid sofa and there is already an ottoman there to match a chair. usually it gets shoved along side a wall by itself. in the tv room there is deep red microfiber sectional and it looks wrong there too. can it be repurposed? I hate to give it away since it's so nice, but we are not getting any use out of it.

I would add a large tray to the ottoman. You can stack books, magazines, etc… as needed and the tray will offer relief from the contrast of the leather and the sofas. You can also look into having the ottoman recovered. There are some inexpensive options for material that may coordinate with your existing furniture.

We have two young children and haven't put a lot of time into the design of our home for a few reasons, but mainly because we don't want to worry about spills, etc. Any thoughts on how to have a stylish home that is kid friendly?

Absolutely, this is a great time to design for young children! The majority of our projects are for families with children and focusing on durable materials is key. We use indoor/outdoor fabrics for upholstery, wipeable and washable materials for accents, distressed or worn woods in family spaces. You do not have to sacrifice your aesthetic just because little people share your home!

I have a hard time finding unique or vintage holiday decorations. Any ideas where to get some?

We often look for one of a kind pieces on Etsy. They have so many great vendors and I find it easy to navigate. Locally I love to shop at Miss Pixies on 14th Street. I have a number of ornaments on my tree from her store!

what do professionals use as fasteners when decorating outside? For example, I wanted to wrap ribbon around the front porch columns (candy canes!) but couldn't get the ribbon to stay put (glue dots made for damp areas, duct tape, packing tape --- what am I doing wrong?) I used nails in the trim as a way to keep the garland above the front door, hate leaving holes there but didn't have another idea. Please share your secrets and tips for installation, both inside and out! Thanks!

We have all kinds of tricks to keep decorations in place! I find that a staple gun is a great tool and we can normally hide the marks in trim and crown molding. We also use a lot of floral wire to keep garland in place.

I have mostly red and green decorations. I want to go gold and silver but how do I do this gradually?

Golds, silvers and champagne tones are great way to add a festive feel to any home without clashing with existing décor. I also love using kumquats, tangerines, pomegranates to add a bit of color without relying on the traditional combination of red and green. Also, remember that greenery adds a lot of color!

I love how you decorated for the holidays in a day! Do you gave to go back often to refresh the greenery?

It is a very fun day and puts us all in the holiday spirit! It normally takes a team of us an entire day to do a home (including trees). We return weekly to spruce up flowers and once to refresh greens as needed. Some homes are drier than others and may require more frequent updates.

I'd like to start putting out some holly branches cut from my big tree, and maybe find some pine or other greenery, for our Xmas Eve gathering. How far in advance can I do that without risking dried-up needles or falling berries? Will they stay fresh without water for a while?

I find that every house is different in terms of how long greens will last. Christmas Eve is only one week away so you should be okay bringing in greenery. You can also cut the holly branches now and leave them in water until the weekend if you notice that your home is particularly dry.

The opening shot of the mantel is awesome - great job Post photographer! Where can I get similar candlesticks?

Yes, John McDonnell is amazing! Those candlesticks are antique but you can find similar style options from American Plant. For vintage or antique options try Etsy!

We have very well made furniture, but would like to update and change styles. Are there shops in the DMV area that will buy or auction home furnishings? Thank you

There are a number of consignment shops in Bethesda and Kensington who will take furniture on consignment. We send a lot of pieces to Sage Consignment in Kensington on Howard Avenue.

What a comprehensive story Jura! Love reading your articles. And Marika, gorgeous home. How far in advance do you start planning for holiday decor?

It was such a pleasure to work on this project with Jura! We start planning the holiday decor in September/October.

Love all the fabrics in the home - where do you look for inspiration, Marika? There are so many choices!

Thank you! I am passionate about texture and pattern and start each design with fabric selections.

Thank you Jura for having me today. It has been fun answering all of the readers' questions. Happy Holidays!

Thanks for doing the chat, Marika, and for sharing your decorating work at the Crawford house in Alexandria. Home Front is taking off the next two Thursdays for a holiday break. Join me again on Thursday, January 7 at 11 a.m. EST as we will debut a new year of chats. Our first guest of 2016 will be professional organizer Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton who will be answering questions about how to finally get organized in the new year. And from me, happy new year to all of you and thanks for being part of this chat.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Marika Meyer
A native of the District, Marika Meyer established Marika Meyer Interiors in 2007, where she creates beautiful environments that are both sophisticated and livable.
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