Creative Christmas Trees

Five top designers reimagine the traditional Christmas tree.


"It disappears into the back-ground, really letting the vintage ornaments shine."
—Designers Ian McLeod and Kerry Johnson of Johnson McLeod, Vancouver

Designer tip: "We love to heap tiny multicoloured twinkle lights in the hearth, and add crystal balls and objects to catch the light."

On their tree Vintage ornaments in hot pink, avocado green, deep gold, cobalt blue and brilliant purple: "Kerry loves the little tiny ones with damage or patina—they have to be allowed on the tree, in case they're sad," laughs Ian McLeod.

Top shop: "Stepback in Kitsilano. Chris, the owner, shops for vintage ornaments year-round and displays them by colour in apple baskets at Christmas."

Fave ornament: These oversize globes, called MoMA Pop Balls, are reproductions of '60s ornaments by the Museum of Modern Art.


"The idea came from these beautiful cuts of fabric, which I fashioned into a garland. The result is a mix of patterns and textures that gives you something chic and sophisticated."
—Designer Amanda Ross, freelance stylist, Vancouver

On her tree: Oversize stars, silver balls, dipped silver twigs, silver wire flowers, mixed fabric garland in taupe, grey and navy.

Designer tip: Play with the scale of your ornaments to add visual interest on a tree.

Favourite holiday memory: "Christmas was such a big deal in my house growing up—all the dishes would be put away to make room for the festive ones. Christmas really transformed our house into something magical. I still go a little bonkers at Christmastime—it's a tradition that's been passed down."


"I really wanted something that jumped out. A pink tree is a showstopper—people love it or hate it, but it's always a passionate response."
—Designer Amanda Ross

On her tree: Wool globes in red and hot pink, a paper garland with crimped edges, crocheted stars in green, pink and turquoise, and oversize glass ornaments in pink and lime green.

Best decorating advice: "It's really about just opening your mind and breaking with tradition. Christmas doesn't have to be red and green—though I love red and green! I'm always looking for interesting colour combinations on fabrics, designs—wherever you can get inspiration."

Top shop: "I derive inspiration everywhere I go. My best advice is to shop year-round—you never know what might give you ideas, even in April!"

Natural Tree

"I wanted something to weigh the tree down, and a firewood tree skirt is really beautiful and clean."
—Designer Cory Christopher of First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre, Edmonton

On his tree: Mercury glass artichokes in lime green, acrylic tubing, amaryllis flowers, green moss balls, live branches, wooden birds, oversize sugar
pine cones.

Designer tip: "I love finding decor around the house. Open your mind to ideas! One friend had a big collection of wine corks—we used them as a base for putting fresh greens in a vase. Simple, but what a statement."

Top shop: "I'm biased, but I love our store. I hunt for months to find decorations for our Christmas shop. But I'm also a big believer in shopping in numerous stores—that's what makes a tree look really unique."


"It's all about that organic feel. Christmas doesn't have to be a lot of colour—introduce colour in subtle ways."
—Designer Alykhan Velji of Alykhan Velji Designs, Calgary

On his tree:A bespoke tree—which Velji created from naturally shed antlers with artist Fears Botazofa—is decked out in browns, taupes and blacks with a hit of lime green, topped with twig owls and pheasant wreaths.

Favourite holiday memory: "Getting my first Christmas tree. We didn't celebrate Christmas when I was a child, being Muslim. But with weeks of crying, I got my wish for a tree—an artificial one I used for years and created my own handmade decorations for. Every year was a different theme, thanks to Martha Stewart."

Top shop: "Hands down, it has to be Rubaiyat in Calgary. The store is filled with the most unique finds around the holidays, and they really go above and beyond when decorating their store." wl