The holiday season is the time to really allow your home to sparkle. For a few weeks every year, over-the-top is just what’s called for. And it is so much fun to create the dazzle and then enjoy everyone’s ohhhs and ahhhs.

My theme this year is Winter Wonderland, which combines the natural beauty of evergreen boughs, trees and plants with many shades of snow white and the glitter of silver. It’s dreamy, fresh and enchanting. The fireplace mantel is the focal point of my living room, and this is where I start.

The base or backbone of the mantel’s decorations is the green garland. Because the mantel will be set up for three or four weeks, I use artificial boughs. These come prelit and are easy to arrange anywhere, even window sills and buffets.

Add ornaments in clusters for a greater impact. Fill a tall glass vase with silver balls, and set up candles (battery operated is safest) to give height and dimension to the scene. A silver reindeer and oversize snowflakes fit the theme.

Hanging stockings for Santa builds the excitement. I’ve borrowed from a traditional textured fabric that is popular again this year called matelasse. It’s a stitching technique that gives the effect of being quilted or padded, and is appearing in bedding coverlets and cushions.

Fill in spaces with little gift boxes wrapped in silver and white. For a party, a bowl of fresh white carnations or roses nestled into the garland would make a stunning finish.

Although most of my home is decked out in winter white, I do have a colored theme tree in the family room that is funky, fabulous purple. For more tips and ideas for the holidays, visit

Q: We are considering buying a small home in the mountains, and all the places we have looked at were decorated in heavy, dark furnishings. I suppose that makes everything feel warmer in the winter. My decorating style is traditional but light and bright. How can I decorate to have a cozy feel without it being so depressingly dark?

A: Too much dark wood is gloomy in the winter. Why not create a white winter palace with different shades of white, from stone to pearl to antique? Choose a light wood for the furniture, or rich dark tones will look stunning against pale upholstery. Warm up the rooms with a variety of textures for cushions, draperies and blankets. Keep the flooring light, and look for carpets with plenty of depth and interest. For contrast that will complement your style, throw in a splash of color: lime green, navy or cherry red, whatever you love. Enjoy your mountain retreat.

Q: I’m redoing my bathroom and working on a budget. Are small glass tiles still in vogue? I’m considering gray, black and white.

A: Yes, small glass tiles are current. The range of colors and finishes keeps these versatile tiles popular. Your color choice is timeless; look for different sheens from matte to pearl and high gloss. Keep costs down by applying a background of plain square tiles or subway tiles and use the decorative glass tiles as trim or to form a geometric pattern.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to You can follow Travis on Twitter at, and visit her website,