Renovation & Design

Last-minute tree decorating

You've got it out of the box -- that was the easy part!

Adding a luxurious tree skirt is a nice final touch.
Layer the ornaments in little clusters to make a larger impact.
An angel or a star makes an ideal tree topper.

Dear Marc:

The holidays are here and my tree isn't decorated yet! I've been procrastinating as I don't really know how to properly decorate a tree. Can you give me a crash course? Jeremy

Dear Jeremy:

There is no way to ignore it, the holidays have arrived and they've brought carolers, festivities, and busier than normal shopping destinations. This time of year is a dream for a seasoned designer but for others, it can be daunting. You see a naked tree sitting in your living room, wondering how in the world you're going to make it look like the ones you see in stores.

I had quite an adventure decorating our tree this year. I spray-painted my wife's tree silver with gold and copper accents. Let me give you my first tree-decorating tip: If you're going to spray-paint a tree, do it in a well-ventilated area!

There's a certain art form to decorating a tree. In order to achieve the desired look, examine the shape of the tree. It's essentially a glorified cone. Apply the balance and proportion rule of design to its cone shape. This rule says: "Visually balance opposing sides and choose design elements in proportion to their inhabiting environment".

Therefore, while decorating your tree, use large-scale ornaments towards the visually heavy bottom end and balance colour and ornaments on opposing sides of the tree.


Artificial tree

Ornaments in various shapes and sizes

3-4 dark brown drape panels

with a sheen


Gold and silver berries

Silver, white, gold and copper glass


Silver tree skirt

Tree topper

Gold ribbon

Silver, gold and copper Krylon

spray paint


Spray the tree! Yes, that's right. We're spraying our green tree in silver with accents of gold and copper to give it a glamorous look. Give it two coats and let dry.


Cut the drape panels in 12-inch lengths and wrap the fabric around the tree as you would with a garland. Be sure to vary the depth of your circular wrapping motion as to have a less monotone look.


Grab a glass of eggnog, here comes the fun part! Layer the ornaments in little clusters to make a larger impact. Think of them as "room settings". You want to see little areas in your tree that will draw your eye. Once you've created these areas, dress the the tree with ornaments to offset these clusters.


A little ribbon and a few branches go a long way. Take a step back and analyze where the eye stops. You want to keep the eye moving to discover new areas -- which means, if it stops in the middle of the tree, you need to add other elements to keep the eye moving.

Add ribbon spirals and silver-painted branches to fill distinct areas in the tree. Tip: To make a ribbon spiral, cut a nine inch length wired ribbon diagonally and wrap it clockwise around your finger. Grab each end and stretch it to get a long spiral effect.


The finishing touches. Add a luxurious tree skirt and a tree topper and there you have it, a designer tree!

Marc Atiyolil is a celebrity designer, the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Home Trends Magazine, a design expert on CTV, host of the TV series DIY Hotline and the host of the Marc Atiyolil Show on To subscribe to Home Trends Magazine visit


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