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SMID Interior Design Consultant Shares How to Make Your Home Welcoming and Cozy for the Holidays

Written By: Angela Hatcher Holiday Decor Made Simple With Tips From Betsy Ginn
Photographed By: Hunter Cole

Christmas bells are ringing, the smell of cinnamon-scented candles and freshly baked cookies infuse our senses, and the excitement of the season fills the air. Let’s face it: With hectic schedules, parties to attend and gifts to wrap, dressing up your home may feel overwhelming and end up last on your long list of things to do. However, during this time of reflection and giving, decorating your home can be fun and even one of your favorite holiday rituals. When it comes to holiday decorating, some ideas are timeless and others are reminiscent of the times. Whatever your decorating style may be, there is a simple way to create the holiday setting of your dreams. A fresh take on an old tradition may be exactly what it takes to make your home warm and inviting, and whether it’s an old-fashioned red and green Christmas or a sparkling New Year’s Eve celebration with lovers and friends, the setting becomes magical with a few carefully planned ideas.

Bring in elements from the outdoors such as pine cones or foliage for a rustic appeal, or add sparkle and shine with glittering elements from a local craft store for a bit of glamour. These little touches can provide inspiration and add elegance to an inviting space where you will love to entertain or cozy up with your family. With a little imagination, some professional advice, or even hands-on assistance from the experts, your holiday decor set up may become something you look forward to enjoying year after year.

SMID Interior Design Consultant Studio

The Expert: Betsy Ginn
Credentials: Interior Designer at SMID Design Studio

Betsy Ginn is a highly sought-after interior designer who launched the prestigious SMID Design Studio in 2013. With a young family of her own, she loves to mix and match modern and glamour with relaxed livability and function. With an eye for design, she often throws caution to the wind and experiments with unexpected elements that bring a new dimension to an already great design. Ginn is known for her ability to push past the norm and try new and interesting things that make a bold statement. Ginn’s excitement about design is infectious.

Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue interior design?

Betsy Ginn: Oh, well, I’ve been obsessed with it as long as I can remember. My husband and I used to go on dates to the flea market. I’m very fortunate that I found someone who would do that with me. I guess it was about four years ago when I really sat down and started to think this was something I wanted to do. Everyone used to tell me that I should. I was in business development for about 15 years and even then I would be thinking about vintage doors and what kind of lighting would go there, and it was just one of those things that I thought, “Why wouldn’t I try this?” Actually, it was in August two years ago when we officially launched the business.

Q: What influences you, aside from furniture and decor?

BG: You know, it’s kind of a cliché to say that I find design everywhere, but it’s true. Fashion influences me. I love fashion, too. Sometimes I think, “I want to design an entire space around this dress, ” or “I want to design an entire space around a piece of furniture, ” because it speaks to me so much. It could be anything.

Q: Who was the first interior designer to make an impression on you?

BG: Probably Kelly Wearstler. She really is the one who pushed the limits, and I am always trying to do the same. She didn’t make it as functional as I like to though, and I feel it is important to keep (the design) playful and useful at the same time.

Q: What do you consider your favorite color palette?

BG: Gosh, it’s probably going to sound dark and moody, but it would probably be chalky black and gray. I find that black is a great way to pull everything together.

Q: What are some of your favorite materials or textures?

BG: I love velvet. I can’t get enough of velvet, and I love fringe. And I’m really loving plaids this year. Texture. I love different textures. I’m even working with a group to patch pillows using plaids and bringing kind of an urban edge to it.

Q: What is one thing you hate to see in a holiday design?

BG: I hate poinsettias. I despise them. I guess the other thing I don’t like is when something is too expected. Whenever I think of Santa and reindeer, I put them on the ceiling! It’s kind of a party in our house, and I feel that you should push the envelope and keep things more playful and fun.

Q: What is more important to you, glamour or a lived-in look?

BG: Oh man, I think you can do both. I think this is the hardest question I have ever been asked. In my home I have a huge ball chandelier, and there is a rugged cement floor, and my kids can run their scooters through the house. We have a piano that we painted gold; it was a vintage piano. This is a tough question for me because you can have both. I guess what drives me crazy is hearing, “I love glamour, but I have kids, ” and then (clients) put their lives on hold because they have kids. They can do both!

Q: Your designs are shabby chic meets Paris flea market meets 1940s glamour meets minimalistic modern meets easy-living. Is that an accurate description of your style?

BG:  I love Audrey Hepburn, but I feel like she needed, I don’t know, a little leather, or a tattoo or something. Some of that classic glamour is wonderful, but you have to have a bit of fun.

Q: What is the most exciting part of designing a room for a client?

BG: Implementing it. The idea comes into my head, and there are swatches and a vision board, but the client is still challenged trying to envision it. What makes me so excited is to see the client’s reaction after we’ve been planning it for six months.

Q: What has been your most rewarding project to date?

BG: There are two. My own home just because I am able to fully implement anything and try without limitations. And that’s been really fun. Another was when I was able to work with another artist, and that has been an incredible amount of fun for me.

Q: Is there one design element that is a must for every project?

BG: I have a few, and texture is a big one. I love layering textures.

Q: Has an idea on paper ever flopped when you tried to execute it in reality? If so, what was it and were you able to salvage the design?

BG: The answer is yes. I think that’s part of what’s so fun about design. It’s almost like a dance to me. If, for whatever reason, you have to shift gears, you can still come up with a great design. For instance we were doing an entire wall of copper, and due to the budget, we took some of the glamour off the wall. We added a chandelier that was more feminine than masculine; with the new lighting, the design just worked.

Q: Is there a design rule you love to break?

BG: All of the above. My favorite rule is that there are no rules. I love to keep things unexpected. If you look at a console table and you expect two lights there, I like to do things unexpectedly, and instead I have a marble coffee table with an ibex ram sculpture that I put on the top. In the past, there would be two used as coffee table stands, but there was one, and it was the right shape and color, so I put it on top.

Q: If you weren’t an interior designer, what would you be and why?

BG: Maybe a fashion stylist because I have just as much fun putting weird patterns together in fashion as I do with interior design.

Q: Some people save a childhood tree ornament, a Christmas stocking, or a special serving dish that was handed down. What is your most treasured holiday possession?

BG: Well, I tell you now, it’s going to be the reindeer! But, before, it was always vintage nutcrackers; they are pretty incredible.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has no idea where or how to begin decorating for the holidays?

BG: Take magazines and start ripping out pages of pictures that inspire you, and prepare them by seeing which are most similar. Then, with the majority that is similar, use those photos to inspire you for pieces and for paint colors.

Rebel, Rebel: Don’t be afraid to mix things up when decorating for the holidays … or any time of the year! Betsy Ginn uses life-sized nutcrackers and reindeer placed on the ceiling for a unique twist.

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Encinitas, CA 92024
760.484.8282 | www.smidthat.com

H O M E /// for the Holidays. Give Your Home a Festive Makeover for the Season Using Tips from Experts.