Cork interiors stylist shares top tips for decorating your Christmas tree

EMMA CONNOLLY chats to an interiors stylist to get some tips on how to best decorate your Christmas tree this festive season
Cork interiors stylist shares top tips for decorating your Christmas tree

Catherine Shiels (right) is assisted by Floral Decorator Ana Preuss at The Pavilion.

Love it or loathe it, there’s no way around it – that’s decorating the Christmas tree … after you’ve managed to find the perfect one of course!

Catherine Shiels, Interiors Stylist, at The Pavilion in Cork, shares her top tips to make it stress-free and stylish!

Fresh or fake?

There are pros to each, says Catherine. 

“A fresh tree will give your home a lovely scent and atmosphere and for many selecting the tree is an annual family tradition. On the other hand, an artificial tree can look remarkably like a real tree, they are usually well proportioned, easy to assemble and if you buy a good quality one it will last for years,” she said.

When choosing an artificial tree, Catherine recommends opting for a traditional style rather than something that is trend driven, for example, silver or gold.

“A traditional Christmas tree will never go out of fashion and provides a perfect base layer for decorating,” she advises.

When it comes to height, consider the room you are decorating.

“A 7ft or 8ft tree will suit most standard rooms. If you have higher ceilings and want to make a statement, a 10ft tree will make a big impact.

With a narrow space, there are some pencil designs that look great and work really well too.

And when assembling your tree, shape and fluff out each branch to make the tree looks fuller and more natural.”

Choose a colour theme.

You will need to decide on a colour theme that marries the decorations together, says Catherine. 

“Colour themes that work well together are warm white and gold, red and green, winter white and blue or vintage pink. It will make it much easier when you look for decorations if you are clear on the colour theme you are going for in the room you are decorating.” 


Consider the size of your Christmas tree when figuring out how many bulbs you will need. 

“Personally, my preference is for trees that are well lit, I think sparse lighting looks less impactful and the tree will not illuminate the room sufficiently. When decorating, I would use 1,500 LED lights on a 7ft tree or 2,000 LED lights on an 8ft tree for example. Also, there are a number of bulb shades to choose from, for example, warm white, white etc. This is a personal preference, however, if your colour theme is an ‘icy white and blue’ for example, you would choose matching white illumination. If you need to use two sets of lights on your tree, ensure you buy identical shades of bulbs,” she says.

Most important - before you begin adding lights, plug them in to ensure they are working, saving yourself possibly pulling your hair out later! Christmas lights are the first thing you will add to your tree. Use the end as the starting point, winding the lighting around the branches from the top so they sit securely on the tree. Always start winding the lights from the trunk outwards and keep weaving until you reach the tips of the branches. When weaving, try to position bulbs over one branch and under the next under a branch and so on.

Choosing baubles 

It is recommended using around 80 baubles for a 7ft tree, says Catherine. 

“And I recommend choosing baubles of different shapes, designs, finishes and texture. Start at the top, attaching the baubles with twine or wire so they are firmly in place. Arrange baubles so they create an interesting mixture; 70% shiny baubles, 30% matt baubles. Create depth by hanging different sizes close to the trunk of the tree. Hang heavy ornamental baubles tightly to the branches so they are secure. Alternate shapes and materials throughout the tree so the baubles are well balanced.” 

Decorative items 

Group smaller items together and arrange repetition around the tree as it is calming for the eye.

“I recommend using a Z shape for repetition. You might choose decorative items in a variety of colours and textures, for example, pine cones, berries, bows etc. Tie to the tree using floral wire, they should make the tree look more appealing without overpowering the other decorations.” 

Tree topper 

Your tree topper will compliment the colour theme of the tree. You can use traditional tree toppers such as a star or angel, or you might opt for a giant bow instead.

Finish with a tree skirt A tree skirt will add a finishing touch. Over the past couple of years, rattan, metal and bark tree skirts have become very popular. A tree skirt will cover unsightly power wires and the tree stand. It completes the look of the tree and creates a perfect backdrop for arranging Christmas gifts.

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