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Credit: Flickr/...love Meagan

Ornaments in a bowl mixed with natural pine cones are on trend this holiday season.

BCLiving sat down with lead Homes for the Holidays interior designer Cathy Howden to uncover the top decorating tips for your own space this festive season.

BCL: What are the latest trends in holiday decor?

CH: Monochromatic themes – all white, white and silver, gold and silver – continue to be big for 2013. Non-traditional Christmas colours such as lime green, purple and hot pink are a refreshing change and create a statement. A woodland theme will always have a place at Christmas time. Twigs, branches, pine cones, owls and other woodland creatures create a seasonal winter look in an understated way.

BCL: What are some good investment items?

CH: Artificial garlands and branches are readily available, easy to store and can be used in a variety of ways from table tops to mantles. They can be tucked into chandeliers and even the Christmas tree.

BCL: What are some fun, trendy pieces that people can incorporate into their existing holiday decor?

CH: To freshen up your Christmas decor, find inexpensive balls (HomeSense, Zellers, dollar stores) in one or two colours that are prominent in your home. Place them in a glass bowl on a coffee table, stack them in cylinders of various sizes on the dining room table or group them on the mantle among seasonal greens for that pulled-together look. (For a glamourous touch, combine silver and gold balls, both matte and shiny.)

BCL: How would you suggest incorporating greenery into your decor?

CH: Live greens can dry out quickly (especially on a mantle with a cosy fire burning below) and are messy to clean up. Fake garlands are a tidier option. Add sprigs of real holly and cedar branches for lovely scent and to trick the eye into thinking everything is real.

BCL: What kind of Christmas tree do you recommend?

CH: A Noble fir will hold its branches for up to four weeks if watered. This variety also has spaces between the branches that show off ornaments. Any type of “Charlie Brown” tree with empty spaces looks charming when decorated with interesting ornaments. Very full trees can be challenging to decorate as ornaments often lie sideways or are hidden by the branches. Lights, however, looks great on the fuller trees as it is easier to hide the cords. Buy as tall a tree as you can for that maximum “wow” factor.

If you are in an apartment or condo that doesn’t allow live trees, look for a good quality artificial tree. Artificial trees are available lit or pre-lit in various species just as live trees – pine, cedar, etc. Some are available with real pine cones glued or wired to the branches. Go as tall as you can for maximum effect.  (The box will often say seven feet, but it usually means six feet plus one branch or almost seven feet.)

If storage is an issue, forget the artificial tree and look for realistic full garlands that can be used on mantles, tables or stair banisters. These items can be used year after year and are easier to store.

The ninth annual Homes for the Holidays tour offers a peek into five distinct homes decorated for the holidays. The two-day tour will take place Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.