When it comes to holiday inspiration, nobody does it better than . The San Francisco-based decorator and shop owner, famous for his love of all things plaid (they don't call him the Tartan Scot for nothing), is an unabashed fan of Christmas cheer. "It's my favorite time of year!" he proclaims. "Think about how many of your friends and family only see your house during the holidays—it's worth getting it in its best shape."
We asked the designer to share his personal checklist for creating a memorable holiday at home.
Have a Plan
Come fall, Meacham Wood is already thinking about his strategy for the coming season. "I refuse to do the same thing every year; at least some part of it has to be new or different to keep things exciting," he says. "Just putting up the same thing in the same place over and over again is never fun!" Inspiration can strike in the form of a favorite textile, an unexpected color combination or even a stroll through the farmer's market. ("One year, it was all about citrus fruit, so I ended up sitting in the study cloving lemons for at least six weeks!" the designer laughs.) This year, Meacham Wood decided to go all out with flowers, decorating with popcorn orchids, roses, apple blossoms and pussy willow branches. "The feel is a little bit mad and wild, like a garden gnome got loose," he says.
Garland Is a Verb
A well-festooned home can never have enough greenery, says Meacham Wood, who buys live magnolia “by the bundle” from North Carolina’s Weston Farms. But the real secret behind the lush garlands draped around his shop is actually a budget-friendly hardware store purchase: “I buy those really cheap fake evergreen garlands and use them as giant floral frogs, weaving in fresh branches and berries until you can’t see the plastic base. The finished result looks much fuller than if you’d started from scratch with just some wire.”
Branch Out with Lights
Instead of haphazardly winding a few strings of lights around your tree, take the time to individually wrap each branch from trunk to tip and then back again. While not the best strategy for anyone short on time (or light strings), Meacham Wood swears it’s worthwhile. “It’s six hours of your life you’ll never get back,” he laughs, “but it means your tree is lit from within, so as you move past it, every branch and ornament will twinkle with more complexity.” And if that’s not enough, he’ll layer at least three or four different types of white lights on his tree. “I have antique ones shaped like pinecones, little round globes, super-bright regular ones—mixing them up makes the tree feel even more magical!”
Mix It Up
Especially when it comes to your plaids. "In my little crazy tartan world, the more the merrier!" says Meacham Wood. "Mixing different plaids and patterns makes things feel fresher." And don't worry about sticking to traditional red and green colorways, either. "I love using lots of blues and yellows in my holiday decor," he adds.
Think Outside the (Gift) Box
For packaging that's just as memorable as the present within, Meacham Wood suggests incorporating leftover pieces of your holiday decor into the mix. “Whenever I’m doing my floral installation, I save the extra bits and bobs to tuck into bows and such so none of it goes to waste,” he says. And you might want to think twice before throwing out that almost-finished roll of wallpaper: “It can make amazing gift wrap! It’s really stiff so it holds a good corner, plus you know it’ll look good with your house,” the designer says. (His go-to: .)
Don’t Forget the Bedroom!
…Or the hallway, or the kitchen, or the powder room. “I think you should decorate every room—just because something isn’t on public display doesn’t mean you should ignore it!” Meacham Wood declares. “Even just hanging a little wreath in a bathroom window is a good place to start,” he adds. Of course, he tends to quite a bit further in regard to his own home. “One year, I put six trees in my bedroom,” he recalls. “It was a wonderful way to greet the morning!”
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