Spreading Cheer

Photo INSTAGRAM - The Cottage Journal

‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly!

This is our special time of year! It's when designers get to play with the elements that make our favorite spaces sparkle and shine in the celebrations that encompass the holiday season. Whether you've recently enjoyed eight wonderful days and nights celebrating Hanukkah with loved ones or you are looking forward to Christmas Eve and Day with friends, this is a time when we get to bring out our inner love of all things related to the holiday.

We lust over beautifully draped garland dawning the stairwell of a grand foyer. Our eyes widen when we see blue lights adorning a handmade menorah passed down from generation to generation. Our hearts beat a little faster at the sight of Christmas trees decorated with whimsical, bright ornaments that remind many of us of our childhood.

And let's not forget the gifts! Because, this truly is the season of giving, and we here at the Design Society of America are thankful to be able to share our gift of education and learning through interviews with some of the best designers around the world. Find out more about holiday celebrations around the world!

We recently had the pleasure of speaking to design historian, educator, writer and influencer Daniella Ohad, PhD, to learn more about her passion for design history, dive into a series of lectures she's been hosting and ask if she believes whether there is more than one way for a designer to achieve success in our industry. We look forward to sharing her views with you in our January newsletter.

Sending you wishes for good health and as much joy as your hearts can handle. 
Looking forward to a Happy New Year with YOU, our design family!

Designer Society of America

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Holiday Decorating: Should You Add It To Your Service Menu? 

Image- Francis Toumbakaris 

Photo Credit © Matthew Raney and Nikola Strbac

By Rachel Leck

Christmas decorating, we all know someone who loves it, like really, REALLY loves it. You know that person with the tree that could inspire fairytales, whose tablescapes could warm old Ebenezer Scrooge's heart? Maybe that person, is you? Well, my elf in training, it's time to consider making that passion a part of your business!  Whether you market it as seasonal home staging, holiday interior design, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa decorating, it's a service that's hot.  Clients long to celebrate the season after a year plus of the social shutdown. DSA got two holiday-decorating designers to spill the eggnog on what it's like to get paid to deck the halls.

Getting Started 

Just like the plot of every classic Christmas movie, the best things seem to happen purely by chance, and this was the case for designer Farrha Hyman owner of MOD Interiors. Twelve years ago, she was working on a whole home renovation when her client made a seemingly simple request, “‘Can you help us just make the house look a little more festive?'... famous last words,” laughs Farrha. Thus began the Colleyville, Texas-based designer's adventures in holiday decorating. 
“I most enjoy transforming people's homes in a day to this magical place where they will make lasting memories with their friends and family”
Farrha Hyman, MOD Interiors 

For those with an existing client base, marketing to customers who already appreciate your vision is a no-brainer, and it can turn into annual work. It can be as easy as adding a holiday section to your existing website and promoting this new endeavor on your socials.  Something as simple as staging a Christmasy tablescape or posting a festive flat on Instagram can get the sleigh bells (and phone) ringing. For those of us leading less cinematic lives or lacking a client base, Farrha advises new designers “ find someone who has done it and ask them to mentor them and help them create a plan for their business.” Instagram @modinteriorsonline 

After a less than festive 2020 holiday season, Farrha sees new trends and plenty of excitement in 2021, “Some people are opting to do smaller get-togethers where they can still be mindful of social distancing, but others are going all out and throwing really fabulous parties, and they're choosing to do it outdoors, so they're decorating their outdoors. If nothing else, last year has reminded us how important it is that we connect and enjoy life!” Farrha


Distilled to its essence, Christmas decor is the ultimate in emotional design. Twinkling lights intermingle with our fondest childhood memories resulting in an urge to create a (temporary) wonder space. On paper, does anyone really need a towering evergreen installed in their living room for a month? No, but in reality, so many could not fathom going thru the season without that and much, much more. 

Francis Toumbakaris, Founder and Lead Interior Designer of New York City-based Francis Interiors understands this implicitly and doesn't just provide decorated trees; instead, he creates entire bespoke thematic worlds for clients who happily pay upwards of $5000 each for his custom evergreens. Francis, a former ballet dancer, says he finds design inspiration “in the arts and the environment our decor lives in.” 

His seasonal portfolio is a diverse cultured forest ranging from rainbow and unicorn pride-themed trees to a tree inspired by the 1877 novel Anna Karenina by Russian author Leo Tolstoy.  These one-of-a-kind holiday creations elicit child-like awe at first glance and make fans of even the most jaded with their clever, multilayered theatrical approach. Frances advises, “When it comes to holiday decor and Christmas trees, go as big and as flamboyant as possible and then some.  When you think you'll have enough ornaments, I guarantee you they are not enough. So, the more, the better.”

Carrie Colbert shares her take on a Cheerful Colorful Christmas visit her on Instagram!

Christmas Comes But Once a Year 

Planning is crucial, and it is essential to begin the process early to ensure everything runs smoothly. Farrha reveals, “August, that's when we usually like to get with our clients to decide on the theme, colors, and discuss whatever it is that they're wanting to do for the holiday.” Francis adds, “Our installations can typically take from a day, up to three days depending on how are we spreading inside the home if it's just the trees typically a day if it's more areas in the house then we need additional time.”

Any designer knows delays pop up even in the most carefully organized project, but when you're dealing with such a short and time-specific window, this takes on a whole new meaning. Factor in this year's Grinch (i.e., omnipresent supply chain issues), and the holiday stress can mount quickly. Francis reveals,” Right now, it's so hard with shipping and items being in stock.” He advises designers, “Know that at the end of the year is something that is extremely time-consuming as you are trying to wrap up and meet certain targets. Anything extra and fun like this shouldn't take away from the focus of the main core of the business.” 

 “I love being covered in Glitter for a month! If you do this, you WILL. It's too much running around and rather stressful, so make sure you charge for your time.” Francis 

Instagram: @francisinteriors