Holiday Decorating Trends: Move over Red and Green.
by Roberta Brown
Photography by Masserman Photography
Flowers by Moditional Designs of Birmingham
Move over, Clark Griswold – the days of over the top holiday decorating are gone. In their place are vignettes of understated elegance and simplicity using antique furniture from Judy Frankel Antiques with design magic by Lynn Witmer.
Frankel, who recently celebrated 25 years in the antique business by moving to a larger location, has observed the move from excess to minimalism in design over the years. “What someone like me tries to show people is the minimal look, but at the same time using pieces that are interesting and fun. Lynn is very good with bringing in pieces within this minimalistic look; my job is to have or find the pieces that designers are looking for.”
She continues: “The interesting thing is that along with the very traditional look, I am seeing a pared down version so that the accessories used are fancy and pretty. For example, Lynn didn’t even use Christmas bulbs. Mid-century modern is big; people are looking for something in the middle.”
Frankel also commented that Hanukkah decorating has always been low key.
Designer Witmer agrees. “For me, design is always very simple; it’s always about restraint rather than overdoing it. I use a little color for each and let the furnishings be the element of design. It’s about the simplicity of designs and the items that you choose as accents. Restraint is really difficult; it’s what you DON’T add. I pare it down to what is necessary and it’s harder to do that.”
Client collections are also a source of inspiration. “I have families wanting to decorate their homes (for the holidays) based on how they decorate for their lives,” Witmer says. “It’s not always about screaming red and green for Christmas; it’s more in keeping with the sensibility of the home’s decor.”
Popular colors this year are green and white for Hanukkah and blue and white for Christmas. “I see it all,” Frankel says. “Blue and white has been popular for a very long time, and it continues to be. Now, it’s using these colors in more contemporary settings.” The furniture Frankel buys is usually muslin-covered in grays or greens; she lets the designer do the coverings in the colors the customer prefers.
“When Lynn started to do the design (for Christmas), I pulled out the blue and white Chinese vases and urns.”
From left to right: early 20th century blue and white Dutch vase with Foo Dog lid, $2,195; blue and white ginger jar, $495.
The Christmas vignette showcases an Italian walnut table with wood stretcher from a monastery near Florence, a set of six Os de Mouton Chairs, a large 19th century English throne style armchair, a 19th century burl walnut cabinet with rounded front and original keys, and a variety of Italian and mid-century mirrors.
“When we did the Hanukkah vignette with an art deco table, Lynn pulled out green Murano glass. I added mid-century Italian chairs with green vinyl seats. That’s what is fun for me in working with someone like Lynn because we can inspire each other,” Frankel says.
The Hanukkah vignette features an Italian art deco style zebra wood dining table, a set of six green vinyl chairs attributed to Osvaldo Borsani, a large mid-century Italian teak wall unit, and a mid-century steel flat bar and leather patchwork bench. Accessories include a mid-century Ernest D’Hossche op art blue and white vase, a green Val St. Lambert centerpiece and two dreidels; flowers are by Moditional Design of Birmingham.
Witmer adds, “Judy found the dreidels and the menorah, which are both very simple designs. I did the layering of green/white, blue/white and the natural wood, with a little pop of gold in the crystal and then adding the polished silver. The result is crisp, fresh and just a little different.”
Witmer and Frankel met about 10 years ago. “I met Judy while shopping in her store,” Witmer says. “We have a nice rapport and have been fortunate enough to have clientele who appreciate her eye (for antiques). I give her a list of items that I’m looking for when she goes on her European shopping trips. We email back and forth while she is overseas. She just has an amazing sensibility and history of antiques.”
What if one is just getting started with decorating? “Buy one or two main pieces; make sure they’re good and they will last,” Frankel says. “Here’s the thing: Part of it is an educational process. You must know the difference between an IKEA piece that looks mid-century and the real thing. And you have to care. The truth is that things were made better then than they are today.”
“Come see me and my new space!” Frankel adds. NS
Judy Frankel Antiques
1748 Northwood Dr,
Troy, Michigan 48084
308 Waddington Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301