Decorating for Christmas: An Architect’s Point of View


New England holidays are notorious for their winter wonderland weather but also for their entrancingly decorated homes, often only seen in storybooks. A leisurely drive around the neighborhood to see the holiday decorations is a magical experience that can be enjoyed only two months in the year. We want to share with you Patrick Ahearn’s secret to decorating your New England home this holiday.

It doesn’t matter what time of the year, the arrival sequence from the street to your front door is a crucial moment that should incite anticipation and deliver a warm welcome. During the holidays, we are given the opportunity to further accentuate the sense of arrival with layers of lights, garland, and wreaths defining the path to the front door. Equally as important, decorations can be used to accentuate primary architectural features on the façade.

Here are our suggestions:

  • Decorations can help define the edge of your property, making a romantic introduction. For example, a fence, mailbox, or post light can be beautifully decorated with a series of garland and ribbon.
  • Adorn trees that act as signature pieces to your property with lights. A decorated tree after a recent snowfall is breathtaking.
  • Set lights in the low foliage bordering your home to draw one’s attention from your property to your home.
  • Wrap portico or porch columns in garland and lights to emphasize the transition from outdoors to indoors.
  • Take advantage of the window boxes, which would typically house flowers in the summer, for Christmas greens to introduce life. Add lights in the window boxes to help animate their three-dimensional quality.
  • Put Christmas lights on trees flanking the entryway. Seasonal trees can be potted and used in the spring if your home doesn’t have this feature.
  • To finish the arrival sequence, place a wreath on your front door with a dedicated low voltage spotlight.
  • In addition, to temper the acute focus on the front door, softly light the façade in a symmetrical way.
  • Lastly, many homes have multiple entrances; take the opportunity to highlight a significant architectural feature one may see from a second angle. For example, a wreath would look great centered on a stone chimney that is visible from a side entrance.

Follow these suggestions and your guests should be filled with warmth and excitement as they approach your home, eager with anticipation to see what you have done inside!

Good Luck & Happy Holidays from Patrick Ahearn Architect LLC