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A Luxury Decorating Primer  for the Holidays


A Luxury Decorating Primer for the Holidays

Susan Kime

 The front door begins the holiday welcome. A white entrance is accented by gold-dipped palm fronds. Courtesy of Granville Island Florist. T

The colour palette of white and gold continues into a gathering area. Natural and manmade objects accent the area with gold, silver, and white ornaments, gift-wrapping, and accent lights on the tree. 

The holiday season is a festive time when many prepare for Christmas by decorating their homes, making holiday treats, and enjoying the season of giving.

People often have questions regarding home decorating, especially of professionals, who manage to make homes, condos, and even small apartments look magical.

“There are really no tutorials in this area, because there are many décor types that lend themselves to different home styles,” says Bianca Fusco Zanatta, chair of the 13th Annual Kids Help Phone Homes for the Holidays event in Vancouver. “But those who see our homes at this two-day event usually say they have acquired great design ideas they will take home and try.” 


Vertical garlands embellish the white marble fireplace. These garlands combine local evergreens, gold-dipped  Dendrobium orchids and leaves, along with white Phalaenopsis orchids. Courtesy of Granville Island Florist. 


Homes for the Holidays is now a two-day Vancouver tradition, a self-guided tour of five homes decorated for the holidays, each with a team of award-winning interior designers.  

One home, featured here, was decorated by a team of four designers: Tanya Ali and Ronee Cheung of Tali+Roche designs, and Lori Sutherland Burns and Taurra Boucher of Studio Ten Interior Design. Fusco Zanatta and Ali give us some great ideas. 

“In the home we decorated,” says Ali, “we wanted to create an environment of togetherness with a touch of glamour. We loved the gold-foliage look, with a contrast purity of white. Running with our overall concept and also our desire for a unique holiday display of cascading orchids at the main fireplace, our talented and creative florals sponsor, Granville Island Florist, came up with yellow, gold-dipped Dendrobium orchids and added them to the natural and local greens and evergreens, some of which were also gold-kissed. Wreaths were created from this foliage for tables and décor for the fireplace. Also, white Phalaenopsis orchids were inserted throughout the floral-designed gathering areas.” 

A memorable design surprise: a palm tree with small gold lights, completed by gold-dipped coffee-table décor with a white wreath surround. Courtesy of GardenWorks. 

The dining table décor employs natural greens highlighted by gold-dipped leaves and white Phalaenopsis orchids. Gold-dipped palm fronds encircle the white pillar as an added touch of holiday sparkle. Courtesy of GardenWorks, University Women’s Club of Vancouver at Hycroft, and Once a Tree Furniture. 

Fusco Zanatta adds, “The designers, or anyone wishing to create holiday environments, can start with a colour scheme, this time gold and white, and then find décor that match or complement those colours.” 

Another way homeowners can begin holiday decorating is by working with a favourite object, Fusco Zanatta and Ali say — a vase, a painting, or an heirloom — and find colours and styles that complement the object. But what’s also important is to create a twist on the expected, something that stands out in the memories of those who see the holiday home. 

“There are live flower garlands,” Fusco Zanatta says, “with gold foliage, white candles with gold, but that twist? — tropical palm trees decorated with sparkling white lights. We don’t expect to see these in Vancouver!” 

Using a combination of white and gold with natural and handmade elements, these seasoned designers create a sense of holiday spirit. Also, the designers mention another important element: holiday home design starts outside.

“Even a simple wreath on the door,” says Fusco Zanatta, “allows the beginning of welcoming, setting the tone for what is to come inside.” 

“And it doesn’t have to be elaborate,” adds Ali. “A simple floral arrangement near the outside door is also greeting, and a welcome.” 

The powder room interior combines a grey marble bathroom vanity highlighted with white Christmas décor and a full blooming white Phalaenopsis orchid. Accenting the orchid is a single gold-dipped palm frond. Courtesy of Granville Island Florist. 

The white and grey marble kitchen interior is highlighted by a large kitchen island wreath, created from aromatic juniper and other evergreen leaves, dried Protea flowers, and wide-gold-ribbon accents. Courtesy of Granville Island Florist.  

“The welcome defines it all,” says Fusco Zanatta. “The essence of the Homes for the Holidays Christmas décor defines the welcoming Christmas spirit that’s within all of us. Through seeing how the designers decorate, the event allows this holiday spirit to move from professional designer to interested homeowner. It also helps raise greater awareness for our charitable organization, Kids Help Phone. It is truly a win-win for everyone: an education in Christmas design for the public, and a confidential, caring voice for kids in need.”


Text by Susan Kime  Photography by Janis Nicolay

Kids Help Phone Homes for the Holidays. Chair, Bianca Fusco Zanatta of M. Zanatta Homes & Design. 

Design team: Tanya Ali and Ronee Cheung of Tali+Roche designs & Lori Sutherland Burns and Taurra Boucher of Studio Ten Interior Design