As the heart of the home this season, the living room can truly sparkle with just a few small updates

From the fireplace mantel to the Christmas tree and blankets to keep you warm, the options are endless. As you plan for a visit from jolly old St. Nick, design expert Kendall Ansell shares a few ways you can upgrade your decor to keep things festive and fun for the holidays.

1. Switch up your garland

Dog and mantelFacebook/Urban BarnThere’s no question that traditional green garland will always be a timeless addition to the fireplace mantel. But, if you’re in search of a modern twist, one of this year’s biggest trends is incorporating dried cotton blooms into your holiday decor. Inspired by homemade rustic design elements, the cotton blooms add the perfect amount of modern simplicity while the winter whites create a beautiful backdrop. Urban Barn’s blanche cotton garland makes incorporating this trend easy, giving a DIY feel without all the effort.

2. Ornaments aren’t just for the tree

OrnamentsWho says ornaments just belong on the Christmas tree? Select a few ornaments and baubles in various shapes that match your colour palette. These can be placed amongst your garland, immediately adding an additional element of sparkle and playfulness. Ornaments can also make a great decor piece when placed inside a decorative bowl or vase. You can even hang a custom ornament with each stocking to add a personal touch. The creative use of traditional ornaments will make your mantel decor unique during the holiday season, perfectly showcasing your personal design style.

3. Keep it cozy

CandleVancouver Candle Co.The holidays have all of us wanting to snuggle up by the fire with loved ones. As you decorate your mantel, keeping it cozy can go a long way in making guests feel they are right at home. Framed photos can be situated along the mantel in a strategic way that adds depth and a wonderfully personal touch. Don’t be afraid to gather frames from around the house and mix metals and textures. This creates a beautiful gallery of photos for family and friends to reminisce over during the season. And while the fire may be burning, placing candles on the manteland throughout your homecan add an additional element of warmth, and keep your home smelling festive.

4. Get festive with ribbon and wreaths

WreathBloom AssemblyA great way to add a pop of colour to your mantel and your tree is through festive ribbon. A small detail that can have a big impact, use wide ribbon to wrap your tree, or even add oversized bows for a modern yet festive feel. Smaller ribbon can be tied around candlesticks, wreaths and garland. The otherwise simple garland and wreaths are then transformed into a unique piece with added colour and depth. Ribbon can also be added to your ornaments, allowing you to incorporate additional patterns and textures.