Your Holiday, Your Style

Decorating a home or business is the first step to creating the holiday spirit. We asked Jenna Buck Gross, the founder and lead designer of Decatur’s Colordrunk, for her take on holiday decor and tips for how to put a modern twist on the red and green of Christmas and the silver and blue of Hanukkah.

What role do decorations have in celebrating the holidays?
Growing up, Christmas decorating began right after Halloween. My mom always went over-the-top. It was a magical way to usher in the holidays and something I looked forward to every year. We were “that” house with seven themed trees, full displays of snow villages and tablescapes complete with holiday china and glassware.

My mother remains very traditional in both her decorating style and her strict adherence to cultural traditions. Though my style is more modern and progressive, her annual practice of holiday decorating has stuck with me.

How do you decorate now?
Over the years, as my style and design aesthetic have evolved, I have personalized my holiday design schemes to reflect my taste and the more modern look of my own home. Gone are the traditional reds and greens, quaint English snow villages and rosy-cheeked Santas of my childhood. In their place, I have developed a style that reflects my style, my family and my home. I incorporate bright bold color, non-traditional design motifs, modern design elements and a good dose of whimsy

What’s the best starting place for updating holiday style?
My advice for developing a holiday design aesthetic is the same advice I give to my clients as we begin the process of any design project: Focus first on color. Look around and identify what colors bring you joy. Then, base your holiday décor around the colors you love and already have in your home.

If the traditionally-used primary reds, greens, blues, golds and whites don’t work for you, don’t use them. In my own home, that means heavy doses of vibrant pinks, purples and greens.

Trees are among the most common decorations, what are some of the possibilities?
Start with a theme. For my main tree this year, it all began with beautiful butterfly ornaments from Christian Lacroix. Their color, pattern and whimsy are a perfect complement to the colors and style of my front sitting room. Bright white lights and a variety of pink, purple and blue base ornaments provide the perfect backdrop for the butterflies, large handblown glass accent ornaments from Jim Marvin and fun spray sticks. In lieu of a tree topper, I draped the tree with strands of a deep navy D. Stevens ribbon.

In my dining room, a funky turquoise tree is dressed with ornaments and ribbons that pull in colors from my pink, grass-cloth walls and drapes. I can’t get enough of these big glass globes by Jim Marvin.

Finally, we put up a more personal tree in our family room. This one is full of ornaments from our childhoods, those hand-made by our girls and others that evoke a lifetime of holiday memories. It’s in the room we spend most of our time in, and is the most special and closest to the real spirit of the season.

What about tables where holiday meals are served?
Use what you have is my number one rule. My collection of china, tablecloths and centerpiece items includes both holiday-specific and more general use pieces. This year, I used a white and gold polka dot tablecloth by Kate Spade. I have paired colorful china with Christmas linens, my grandmother’s hand painted stemware and our everyday flatware. For the centerpiece, the golden reindeer sculptures certainly lean traditional, and are modernized with the colors of the bottlebrush trees. This design is equally festive and feels young and modern.

How do you give childhood memories a modern makeover?
One of my favorite memories growing up were the elaborate Department 56 snow villages my mother set out all over our home. She gifted me some from her collection, but I couldn’t make it work with the vibrant, modern design of my home. Instead, I found a modern version in a collection from Cody Foster full of midcentury style buildings, vibrant colors and bright, funky bottlebrush trees. These villages have allowed me to update and personalize my mom’s snow village tradition for my family

To deck your halls in Colordrunk style, contact Jenna Gross via