The Iris Apfel School of Holiday Decorating

Maria Killam The Iris Apfel School of Holiday Decorating

This year when I started looking for a design assistant to handle all the details involved with both my Exterior Colour Solutions and my NEW Interior Colour Solutions–colour advice via email, I was very happy when Tricia Firmaniuk applied.

She is a True Colour Expert™ who was in Vancouver to attend my Specify Colour with Confidence training over 2 years ago. On the True Colour Expert private forum, when other designers would ask questions and she posted an answer, I often found myself nodding in agreement.

Her aesthetic is very similar to mine and I’m thrilled to have her working with me! Not only does she have a great eye for colour and design, she is also an artist, see her work here.

Tricia recently watched the documentary of Iris Apfel. Some of you will know who she is, but if you don’t, you will now! And Tricia was inspired to write this post!

I watched it on the weekend and I loved one of her many declarations: Colour is so important, colour can RAISE THE DEAD!

Her trademark huge glasses (above) make me think we should all wear them when we get to be her age (she’s 95).

I asked Tricia to get a photo of herself taken in an Iris inspired outfit. When you watch this documentary, if you are into jewelry at all, you will feel the urge to run out and buy boatloads of ginormous colourful wooden beads to go with every outfit, haha.

tricia

Tricia Firmaniuk

Here’s her guest post! You’ll be hearing from her from time-to-time, she’s also a wonderful writer:

I finally got to see Iris, by Albert Maysles, it’s on Netflix! Wow what a fearless and inspiring aesthete she is. Imagine a career that spans interior decorating, fabric design (for the White House!), and getting to curate your own show for the fashion and costume gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art out of your own closet!

Iris a film by Albert Maysles
Iris a film by Albert Maysles

 

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Iris Apfel’s Manhattan Apartment from Architectural Digest

Iris Apfel is best known for her unabashed and bold fashion sense, layering up accessories and outfits the way an artist composes work. Her amassed collection of art, fashion and décor is housed in her apartment on Park Avenue NYC, her holiday home in Palm Springs and a large warehouse loft in Long Island.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel

The film really got me thinking about our sensibilities as decorators when it comes to how much is enough?

My inner minimalist and maximalist are never more at odds than when it comes to holiday decorating. I love creating vignettes and festively adorned spaces, but honestly, at times the idea of having to arrange all of that stuff, fun as it is, only to take it all down again after the holidays exhausts me. And then there is the storage issue.

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
From Pinterest

Apparently, I’m not the only one, the blog sphere is cluttered with posts on minimalist Holiday decorating and gifting. I get that we need to have awareness about the overly consumerist trappings of the Holiday.

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
From Pinterest

But it’s always refreshing to entertain a different perspective.

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

One thing that struck me in the film was the sheer joy her and her late husband derive from all of their various possessions that are somehow elegantly crammed into their space.

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
From Pinterest

They keep their Christmas decorations up for up to 8 months of the year! How’s that for festive spirit?

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
From Pinterest

This season, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, (who didn’t?) Everyone I know is gleefully purging right now. In the battle of stuff, purging looks like the virtuous thing to do. Clutter is the enemy right?

But what if you love and adore every little thing you bring into your life and then keep it, display it and cherish it!

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
From Pinterest

The idea is to acquire decorations like a collector.  Choose things you will love to put up for years to come. Of course, few can resist tossing in a trendy accent colour or motif, but to get the collected vibe, overall, you need to care about the things you collect.

I would say that for the most part, restraint is a good thing. It’s what lends power and gravity to some of the world’s artistic masterpieces. It is the finest, most productive source of creative tension. Editing is an essential part of the creative process. At least most of the time. But if there is any time in the year where we should just embrace the exuberance of the season, isn’t it the Holidays?

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Found on blog.anthropologie.com

So what’s your approach to Holiday decorating? Do you revel in the excuse to unleash your maximalist leanings?

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Marimekko
THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Found on Pinterest

Or do you like to keep things elegantly restrained?

THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Found on blog.styleestate.com
THE IRIS APFEL SCHOOL OF HOLIDAY DECORATING
Found on Pinterest

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy Holiday decorating!

Thanks Tricia for such a fun guest post!

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  1. I finally was able to watch this documentary today and was struck by a few things. At first, I could barely watch her haggle over prices with vendors. I almost turned it off. But I pressed on and as I continued to watch I became enamoured by how devoted Iris and Carl are to one another. And he is 100! Whoa. Although she is completely surrounded by “stuff”, she knows what is important — health, happiness and love. I love that. I also love that she isn’t judgemental of other people and how they dress — “it is more important to be happy than well dressed”. I really wish the show had delved more into her parents and her upbringing. I am always fascinated by what makes people tick and I don’t think there was enough of that in this documentary. It was very light on content. I have the overwhelming desire to clean out a few drawers after watching Iris, but that’s just me…