Inspiration: Cool California Christmas

December is here and the holiday rush is on! Though our celebrations may look a little different this year, I still want to create a cozy, festive look for my family -- all with a cool, laid-back California vibe. Here are a few ideas that are inspiring an update to my Christmas decor this year.


fireplace with magnolia garland and taper candles

Design by Amber Interiors

Unconventional Greenery


Eschew conventional firs and cedars for something leafier like magnolia, eucalyptus, or olive branches. I love the texture and muted colors of both real and faux versions. If you're a garland traditionalist, try layering different varieties -- even mixing real and faux -- for a full, custom look.


fireplace with kilim stockings and Christmas tree

Photo By Ashley Muir Bruhn

Use Outside-the-Box Textiles


I love the idea of using stockings made of textiles that reflect what is already in your home, like these by Davis, CA, blogger Ashley Muir Bruhn. She found hers at the Alameda Flea Market, but a quick search on Etsy revealed lots of cool options. The mix of stockings made from kilim rugs and wool blankets bring so much color and texture, but in a chic, unexpected way.


Christmas tree with mudcloth skirt

Photo by Kristin Dion Design


If you are crafty, try making your own! Designer Kristin Dion made her tree skirt and stockings out of scraps of mudcloth and other fabrics for a one-of-a-kind look. I love how it contrasts with her more traditional tree, while fitting in with the laid-back aesthetic of her home.


Spanish-inspired home with holiday lights

Design by Akiko Senda | Photo by Thomas J. Story for Sunset


Take a Nod from Nature


One way to really freshen up your holiday decor is to rethink the color palette entirely. Florist Akiko Senda of the Arizona floral studio Bloom Maven was inspired by her desert surroundings to create this textural, interesting wreath in shades of dusty pink, blush, burgundy, and whites. She used a combination of preserved, faux, and foraged florals and branches, spray painted some to achieve the color she desired, and then attached them all to an inexpensive grapevine wreath from a craft store.


fireplace with asymmetrical garland

Photo courtesy of Juniper Print Shop


Go Asymmetrical


I am loving all of the asymmetrical garland that I am already seeing this year. It definitely takes something that can feel super traditional and gives it a fun, edgy look. Try this on your mantle, over a bookshelf, or over your front door. For this garland, Jenny Komenda took a store-bought faux garland and added real clippings with floral wire, then attached it to the fireplace mantle with removeable adhesive hooks.


tablesetting with eucalyptus garland

Photo and Styling by Tessa Neustadt for Rue Magazine

Keep it Simple


California design is all about keeping it clean and minimal, just like this pretty table setting by Tessa Neustadt. I love the simple, understated menu and the sleek dinnerware. The eucalyptus garland really dresses it up and the protea flowers give a nice punch of color. You could use this as inspiration for any of the winter holidays.


simple holiday decor with red berries in vase

Design by Emily Henderson | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Sunset


I love this very minimal, yet still festive vignette by Emily Henderson. This is a great example of just adding small touches to your existing decor to feel special. The cedar branch softens the really sculptural black candles and the red berries bring the Scandinavian Christmas vibe -- check the flower market or even the floral section of your grocery store for something similar. The sweet vintage-looking ornament is the perfect last touch.