The Beauty of the Holly Berries and Ice

by Terry on 14 Feb


berries in ice


We’re still experiencing a bitter cold, icy winter here in New York as we move through February – the month of love.  And in this bittersweet month, I look for ways to add some warmth to a room.   One way is by using the color red, designing with a burst of red, a warm color and lots of white, a cool color is the focus this month and how this palette can be used to design a beautifully balanced room.

Where do I find inspiration?  It is from nature, a moment during a long walk in the mountains on the weekends for example.  This month has seen a blanket of white snow over the entire landscape and sheets of ice shimmering on the brooks, ponds and rivers.   It is such a pure and serene vision I love to capture and create in interiors.  What makes this scene so special is that every now and then emerging from the snow and ice I see clusters of bright red shiny berries!  I love holly bushes and just a few red berries against the pure white background adds a little excitement.

The same can be said for a room; particularly for children, so full of innocence and happiness.  Girls and boys love the color red; for boys it is the color most associated with courage and sacrifice, sports team and soldier’s marching band uniforms and of course fire trucks.  Hearts and roses; love and beauty is what comes to mind when you ask a little girl about the color red. I love nurturing and bringing out the natural and unique masculine qualities of little boys and the feminine qualities of little girls.  Involving older children in the design process by allowing them to select their favorite samples is a wonderful way for them to express themselves, become aware of their surroundings and learn about beauty. Parents will be happy to know that red is a color not only representing sacrifice, love and beauty, but also evoking JOY, HAPPINESS and ENERGY, so perfect for a playroom or family room.  Unlike pale pink and baby blue, it is not a color children outgrow, it is so classic.

Fabrics, wallpapers, carpeting and furnishings in shades of white and cream (my favorite to design with) with patterns having accents of red is beautiful.  I think of new ways to use them depending on the room’s size and children’s age.  I begin with a white ground and add red little by little. For example; painting the walls white and then painting a door, trim or a floor in shiny red.   Adorning the walls with pictures such as Little Red Riding Hood or soldiers will keep them inspired and they are easy to change.

The window is one of the most important features in a room and I like to make the most out of the natural light and view.  Overlooking a garden or yard, I simplify the window treatment by using fresh white Irish linen trimmed with red gross grain so as to frame the view so they can see the flowers, trees, birds and sunshine.  Having a built-in window seat with cushion where a child can curl up and read is great.  I love stripes, checks and plaids for boys and florals and birds or a pastoral scenes (toile) for girls and what child doesn’t love zebras, snowflakes or paisley.  All of these are wonderful on furniture, pillows and even as a wall covering. One of my favorites is the animal print, a perfect example of using red in moderation.

Having an open floor area is important in a playroom.   Since the color red increases the heart rate, blood pressure and respiration there may be a little more dancing, tumbling, exercise and playing so a padded floor area is great, especially for toddlers.

I love music and have vivid memories of my mother and grandmother playing the piano for us as children, done in a natural way and setting.  Listening to an Irish Lullaby, Peter and the Wolf or The Nutcracker for example gave me an early appreciation at home for culture, classical music and ballet. Space for a piano and other music lessons and practice is important in my design schemes.

Red stimulates the mind, so important for child development so a desk for each child for homework is important as well as a table where they can play together; puzzles, cards or art projects.  I like adding plenty of bookshelves (built-ins if possible) with a few comfortable chairs for reading and learning.  It is also a way of encouraging children to begin their own collection of good books (I still have my books from childhood which I treasure).  There was very little television time when I was growing up as the focus was on our books, music and playing with each other and I would recommend the same today.  A small TV for a rainy day or a great movie is suffice.

A happy room makes for happy children, here are a few of my favorite favorite fabrics and wallpapers I’d like to share!



red stripe






red and white pillows





A red and white playroom can remind children all year of their fun playing in the snow, ice skating or winter walks and so much more!


Young boy wrapped in red plaid blanket playing in snow

girl skating

Please see the February Pinterest board with more ideas!





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