Want to achieve a big visual impact in your seasonal decorating with a minimal amount of effort? The answer is above your head: your light fixtures.  Chandeliers offer a brilliant stage for awe-inspiring displays that will take your seasonal decorating to the next level. The beauty of decorating your fixtures is that you can do as much or as little as you want and still get great results. You just have to know a few tricks of the trade:  

1. Branch Out

The first place I tackle when I decorate my home for fall and winter is my dining room chandelier. Through the years, I’ve had a blast as I’ve tried myriad different approaches for this dangling display. There are times I’ve gone a bit crazy: Once, I used my chandelier as the anchor for a huge canopy of pine braches, which extended out into the dining room, then dangled ornaments and ribbons from the boughs so it looked as if you were dining under a Christmas tree. Other times, I’ve simply looped a few seasonal greens around the arms of the fixture and called it good.

To give you a gauge, my dining room chandelier display in the photo above took our designer about three hours to create. But we’ve also created some fabulous looks on the same fixture in 15 minutes.

Before you begin, decide whether you want to create a display that is big and showy, or one that is super simple. Then, pull out a ladder, line up your decorating tools and start having fun.

For a ka-pow visual effect, try this favorite Nell Hill’s trick: Secure some fallen branches to the fixture. I am always on the lookout for great branches to use in displays and have been known to pull my car over when I glimpse a branch with great lines, dragging it into the back of my car to use in future displays.

Sometimes I leave the branches long so they reach far out into the room, creating airy, organic arrangements. Other times, I trim the twigs tightly so the fixture display will be dense. At Nell Hill’s we’ve experimented with different ways to secure branches to fixtures and have found that clear zip ties work best. They are strong enough to hold just about everything yet don’t show. Perfect!


 2. Entwine Some Vine

When we decorate light fixtures at Nell Hill’s, we always include lifelike seasonal garland and picks. Our goal is to use the faux vines, leaves, berries and grasses to create a suspended bouquet that mimics nature, as if this wild tussle has grown there of its own accord.

First, spend a few minutes fluffing out the garland and picks, twisting and shaping them so they look lifelike. This small investment of time will make all the difference in the finished look of your display.  Then, start to weave the vines in and out of the arms and chain of the fixture, willy-nilly, topys- turvy, so it doesn’t look fussy or staged. If you are using fallen branches in your display, twist and loop the faux greens up and around the twigs and the fixture itself so they look like they just grew there on their own.

Depending upon your preference, you can make the display open and airy, with tendrils of vines looping free, jutting up and hanging down. Or, you can keep the vines and picks closer to the fixture. It’s all a matter of your mood and what you think looks best in the room.


3. Dangle Some Baubles

If you’ve ever visited Nell Hill’s Atchison, you know how much I love to decorate the space above people’s heads, using the ceiling as a display area, too. There is something sort of magical about being able to walk under a canopy of beautiful things, woven together in a multi-layered tapestry. You can create the same dramatic results at home by dangling treasures from your light fixture displays.

That’s exactly what we did a few years ago when we created the dramatic display pictured above in my dining room for my Holiday Open House. We swirled bare honeysuckle vines around the fixture, then hung clear glass prisms from the vine using white satin ribbons.

Here’s a close up of this simple but magical creation. Get creative when dreaming up baubles you can hang from your own fixture. Christmas tree ornaments are a perfect pick. So are hanging glass votive cups holding battery operated tea lights or fresh flowers.


4. Finish with Finesse

Once your branches and greens are up and secured, add a few finishing touches that will knock the display out of the ballpark. Seasonal ribbons are the fastest, easiest way to weave in a bit of color and texture.

Check out this super simple but super sweet display from my Fall Open House this year. There are lots of visual delights in my little kitchen, so when I decorate this fixture, I keep the display small so the space doesn’t feel overwhelming. Just a few seasonal picks featuring fall leaves and berries did the trick. But it’s the finish of this display that catches your eye – a double layer of fall ribbons.


This festive holiday display on the light fixture in my study is finished with a brilliant plaid ribbon that echoes the cheery red in the berry picks.  The fat pinecone hanging from the ribbon is an exclamation point for this simple but lovely display.


Next Week … Time to cozy up your bed for winter. I’ll inspire you with lots of photos of the beautiful winter bedding at Nell Hill’s right now. Spoiler alert: It’s the stuff of dreams!



Want to receive the latest blog posting
in your email inbox every week?
Click here to sign up.

19 Responses to “Light Touch: 4 Tricks for Decorating Fixtures”

  1. Ramon Valdez Says:

    The best thing about this years Holliday Open House this year was the light fixture in the kids table, it was fun and exiting, like something imagined by Dr Seuss him self.
    Come check out all the detail from this years open house on my blog,
    Be ready to get dazzled.

  2. Joselyn Verschelden Says:

    Can you tell me the name of the light blue paint color on the ceiling under point 2? It ( and everything else!) is beautiful!

  3. Christine Says:

    That’s totally inspiring….I love it. Thank you for sharing it!

  4. Brenda Says:

    It always pays to look up when you are at Nell Hill’s or MCG’s home! The lights are always decked out beautifully.

    Mary Carol, I enjoyed your Holiday Open House last weekend. For your fans who weren’t lucky enough to attend, check out my blog to see a few posts featuring pictures from the open house:


  5. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    Absolutely love all your ideas. Omgosh I missed your open house but thankfully this amazing blog http://www.rowhouseeventsandinteriors.blogspot.com
    Ramon’s blog above captured wonderful photos. So exciting, so lovely.
    As usual.
    I will be trying to glamorize my chandeliers and light fixtures for Thanksgiving thanks to you Mary Carol.

  6. Brenda Says:

    It always pays to look up when you are at Nell Hill’s or MCG’s home! The light fixtures are always decked out beautifully.

    Mary Carol, I enjoyed your Holiday Open House last weekend.

  7. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi! I’m going to post a mini album of Holiday Open House pix to my Facebook page tomorrow. You’ll see more in upcoming holiday-decorating related blogs in late November and early December (including the fun treatment on the chandelier in my kitchen Ramon mentioned above).

  8. Mary Carol Says:

    Joselyn, I painted my kitchen ceiling Front Porch, a wonderful blue tone from my Mary Carol Artisan Paint line. We sell this and many other colors at both Nell Hill’s locations (we also sell sample packets so you can try the color without having to purchasing a gallon). If you live out of town, just give our personal shoppers a quick call at 877-746-4320 for shipping options. You will love this color – it’s one of my favorites!

  9. franki Says:

    I love decorating our chandys, too! Great inspirations! Thanks…franki

  10. Julie Says:

    I am new to your blog and very excited! I also found out I could follow your wonderful ideas on Pinterest. After touring your lovely home in the fall I just have to say that the pictures here don’t do it justice. It would be great to see bigger pictures that could truly show the beauty and creativity that I saw in person. Can’t wait to check out the holiday open house pictures on Facebook.

  11. Bev Stickle Says:

    Wow! very inspiring! Love all the pictures and thank you for explaining how to do it. I also love the way the two light fixtures in your book “Christmas At Home page 76 are done!! Thanks so much for the INSPIRATION!!

  12. Becky White Says:

    Having been to several of your open houses, it is so much fun to see your lovely light fixture treatments and know exactly where they are in your fabulous house. It gives me many ideas for holiday decorating. Thank you for the beautiful pictures!

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    Thanks so much, everyone. I’d love to hear how you are decorating your light fixtures!

  14. Lesa Arthaud Says:

    What color is your dinning room. Navy or gray? Is it one of your paint colors?

  15. Linda Says:

    Do you sell the beautiful brass with black shades chandelier ? I would love that for my kitchen island. What could I use with that fixture over the kitchen table next to the island? Hope you can help me. I can send pics:)

  16. Linda S Says:

    Your Christmas Open House was spectacular! I loved it all. Do you sell the blue and white jar with brass lid that was in your foyer in front of the huge beautiful mirror? It is stunning! I was told “yes” at your house and “no” when I called the store.

  17. Patti Says:

    WOW! I’m going to get started today! Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas.

  18. Mary Carol Says:

    Lesa, my dining room is painted Twilight, a yummy navy blue in my Mary Carol Artisan Paint line. Call us at 877-746-4320 to get a sample to test in your home and to find out about paint availability. I LOVE this color!

  19. Heather Says:

    Hi Mary Carol,
    Love all your wonderful ideas! It is a joy to read your blog. I was wondering if you have the darling little table in the white kitchen available at Nell Hills.
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply