ALTHOUGH little beats the look and scent of a real Christmas tree, artificial trees are popular.
And, although criticism can be levied that the materials used in most artificial trees is non-recyclable, the fact that we can use them year after year offsets this somewhat.
Before decorating, decide where to put your tree and consider supplementing this with a selection of miniature versions. These make great table-top decorations, while larger, or unusual, shapes create eye-catching focal points and slim-line styles fit even the most compact of rooms.
Select a main colour and one or two accent shades to co-ordinate with those of the surrounding space. There is an ever-expanding choice of coloured faux trees. Many outlets supply slim-line trees in a variety of colours and sizes or reversible trees, which can be displayed right way or upside down.
Decorations on brightly coloured trees are best kept simple. Restrict these to clear LED lights or shiny baubles in a single colourway to avoid optical overload. Black or teal would tone down a bright orange tree, while purple or turquoise would complement a zingy pink.
Black trees look dramatic hung with rich red baubles or oversized bows, and sophisticated with white or silver. Choose your favourite shade to decorate white, cream or silver trees - jewel colours glow beautifully, while all-white or silver gives an ethereal look.
You need not restrict yourself to traditional tree shapes. Wire and bead trees, pre-lit topiary trees and twig trees, complete with LED lights, are delicate enough not to overwhelm a space. If you can find a fallen branch you could even make your own minimalist version.
• Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House. Visit our website for design services, courses and workshops. Start a new career as a Homestyle Advisor or learn to ‘Be Your Own Designer’ with our distance-learning interior design course (07765 057 409, www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk)