Decorating for Christmas in a room that hates red

You all know I have a yellow kitchen, and although it has many virtues, one of its vices is that it doesn’t play well with red—that’s a problem when Christmas rolls around.

Nearly 15 years ago, one of my best girlfriends, who is a designer, told me that yellow and red usually don’t look great together—“mustard and ketchup,” she said.

I agree. And this forces me to think a little outside the box when decorating for the holidays.

Some of you are thinking Christmas is a long way off—we haven’t even had Halloween. But I’ve got Christmas on the brain in a big way because I’ve got to have my house decorated in time for the Historic Homes for the Holidays tour in six weeks (buy your tickets starting Nov. 1 right here on this blog!).

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a few solid ideas for decorating my kitchen without a shred of red in sight, and a lot of the ideas come from nature herself.

To start, I’ll probably run with shelves decorated in white and natural greenery like last year:

But what to do with the rest of the room? Here are a few ideas for those that can’t (or don’t want to) decorate with red:

Paperwhites. If you plant yours now, they should be blooming mid-December. Rumor has it they stay in bloom for a couple weeks too. So now is the time! I used this tutorial to force mine, and—surprise!—paperwhite bulbs don’t have to go through the typical hard-freeze process like other forced bulbs. If mine are successful, they will be the centerpiece for my table in the breakfast nook.


Dried-orange garland. I associate oranges with Christmas, and I’m thinking a garland like this would look rich with my gold tile.



In fact, bowls of fresh oranges will likely make an appearance in the room.

Little tree. I love the idea of a small tree in the kitchen, but there’s not a logical spot for one in my house. So I am planning on a lemon-cypress topiary by the sink to do the trick. I’ve had one before, and they dry out quickly. This time around I’ll make sure to stay on top of watering and misting the foliage too.


For my pantry, it’ll be three simple, natural wreaths.

And anywhere else that needs a little something, I’ll stick a few sprigs of evergreen and holly. In fact, this fall I planted three holly bushes out back just so I have a supply of branches at the ready come December.

That’s it. I think it’ll be pretty, natural, and traditional, like the type of Christmas you’d have seen in the March house in Little Women.


Tell me, what new decorations are you excited to try out this Christmas? And what are you getting sick of? For me, I’m over a tree packed with ornaments. I’m going to keep it simpler there too this season. •

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