Outdoor decorating trends: natural, cozy, sustainable

This image provided by Lowe’s shows a traditional front door decoration. Frame the front door or wrap a railing with a lighted garland, and add a coordinating wreath, for a cozy, festive vibe. There are plug-in versions as well as battery operated ones, with a timer – great if you have no handy plug. www.lowes.com (Lowe’s via AP)

Home, as we know, has become more central to many of us during the pandemic, and that means outdoors as well as in. This holiday season, designers and retailers have suggestions for updating window, door and yard decorations.

Trends include sustainability, naturalness and coziness.


New York interior designer John Douglas Eason appreciates a season where “over the top” is often just what’s needed.

“But that said, I like subtle holiday design, incorporating nature and keeping it tonal. I love monochromatic gourds with a gnarly tree branch tossed in for interest and fresh greens,” he says.

Eason suggests luminarias to light walkways, “and I’ve been playing around with the idea of connecting them with thick garlands and woodland elements.

“I really think a more natural holiday design is absolutely on point this season.”

When the holiday is over, he notes, recyclable decor can go back to nature “and help to ensure the gift of a safer earth for generations to come.”

Professional organizer Shira Gill, whose new book, “Minimalista” (Ten Speed Press), offers decluttering tips, also suggests going biodegradable. String a popcorn and cranberry garland for window boxes or railings, or make a front-door wreath out of tree trimmings or fallen twigs.

“These can all hit the compost bin when the new year rolls around,” she says.


If heading off to a cozy cabin is more aspirational than doable, you can still achieve the chalet vibe. A few birch logs placed in a galvanized steel or enameled planter, with pine or cedar boughs and some faux or real moss bedding the pot, will look inviting with or without a strand of warmly hued fairy lights.

Peel-and-stick removable decals can dress up a front door or street-facing windows. Tempaper’s white Christmas Village wall decal set gives you pine trees, deer, various buildings and an array of stars to create a silhouetted scene.

Grandin Road also has a silhouette theme, with powder-coated metal deer and mountains.

Instead of the usual wreath, hang a set of Terrain’s leather and silver sleigh bells.


Nicole Fisher, who bases her BNR Interiors firm in New York’s Hudson Valley, likes to blend the time-tested colors of Christmas with fresh twists.

“My color palette this year is going to be green and red with black and white accents,” she says. “I love the traditional concept of black and white, but also how it’s unexpected for the holidays. Harlequin and checkered prints in small doses, for ornaments or decorative accents, work for both inside and out of the house.”

She likes magnolia-leaf garlands with green tops and a rich burgundy red on their fuzzy undersides.

“They’re my favorite to use because they pop against a blanket of snow,” Fisher says. “They’re also very hardy and last through the entire season, always looking fresh.”

If you can’t find magnolia garlands locally, Food52 quick-ships good-looking fresh ones. And there are lovely faux versions that you can embellish with extra pops of green, red or copper magnolia sprigs, at Etsy, Jamali Garden and West Elm.

Garlands of all kinds of greenery can warm up the look of railings or frame doorways. Leave them au naturel, or dress them with metallic accents and small decorations for your overall theme.

A 9-foot multicolored garland at Lowe’s is battery-operated, if you don’t have an outdoor plug nearby. Set the timer, and the lights go on and off at the same hours each evening. There’s also a 24-inch wreath with the same features.

Why not bathe the front door itself in holiday colors?

“It might sound extreme,” says Leigh Spicher, national design director for homes developer Ashton Woods, “but you can paint your front door to coordinate with seasons, especially if your home is a neutral color. So this means you can have a red or green door for the holidays, and then repaint it a bright yellow for the spring.”


Gill’s aesthetic is minimalist, but striking. “Engage all the senses,” she advises. “Project festive images on your front door – think snowy winter wonderland, or a slideshow of your favorite holiday memories.”

Like Eason, she loves the idea of lining walkways with lanterns or tall white candles for “a chic, minimalist look that still feels festive and lovely.”

LightShow’s Projection SnowStorm sets an 8-foot-wide blizzard of snowflakes dancing across the front of the house. Another version has gently falling snowflakes across a 30-foot expanse.

While winter white is great for a modern look, Eason says adding colors to the scheme can make it “2020s fresh.”

“Womp up your contemporary design with vintage ornaments, or add gorgeous velvet ribbon in teal, purple or a scrumptious chocolate brown,” he says.

Peachy-pink is another trending holiday shade, in bright and blush tones.