All that pressure to find the perfect gift, make the perfect meal, and host the perfect party now extends to your Christmas tree. Holiday décor is not exempt from the captious gaze of Instagram. You are judged (as you judge others) on all of these things. What used to be a luxurious weekend of trimming the tree and pondering lighting possibilities is now a full-on marathon, as modern life no longer embraces the indulgent Rockwellian notion of stopping to enjoy the holidays.
A new service from stylist, author, and designer Erin Swift offers an elegant proposition: A Christmas tree delivered, decorated, fussed over, and finessed to perfection while you concentrate on essential things like online shopping, working, or staying sane.
Her just-launched studio Holiday Workroom specializes in dressing the definitive crowning jewel of the holiday season. Clients first choose a type of tree (all sourced from Northeastern farmers), then select from the company’s style menu, featuring four looks. The designs cover the traditional to contemporary spectrum with careful restraint. There is a reliably handsome red, green, and gold reliability in the New England Classic, for example, as well as a confident, clear glass and white light crispness about the Greenwood Essential. The Uptown Royal puts on the ritz with a blue-and-white Chinoiserie inspiration, while Scandinavian Modern appears like a light, silver glaze of Nordic icing.
Decorating a tree might be the best part of the season, but Holiday Workroom was started by a New Yorker meant to serve New York, where any attempt to harness holiday cheer implies an extra layer of effort. Many of her clients, says Swift, are busy with their families, traveling for work, or making the decision to entertain in their weekend homes, which leaves little time to keep up with sentiment.
She also notes most interior designers are inundated this time of year. “This is really a fresh take on the holidays,” says Swift. “While interior designers triumph at bringing together beautiful and complementary furnishings for homeowners, tree decorating is not always their area of expertise. This is where we thrive, from our excitement to the efficiency in our work.”
Though Holiday Workroom is located in New York, Swift and her team are happy to travel for custom projects and deploy additional sparkle. We got the scoop from Swift on her business, the more is more maxim with holiday décor, and what it’s like to live in a 24/7 Christmas world. Gentle reminder for anyone interested: You might want to contact her today, since we’re already one week into December.
Tell us how the Holiday Workroom concept started.
I LOVE the holidays and I saw a gap in the market. I’ve had this vision for years and this year just felt like the right time to bring it to life. As New Yorkers, we experience the tough life of dragging a tree through the streets, up the stairs and then trying to buy decorations that will fill the tree but then won’t fit in your home. Also,where do you get all this stuff?
What is your background?
I started in magazines at a time where budgets were generous and ideas were magical. That said, I was most recently the Creative Style Director at One Kings Lane and formerly the style and market editor for several distinguished magazines, including Architectural Digest, ELLE DECOR, and Oprah Winfrey’s O at Home. I have also contributed my work to Vogue, Vogue Paris, V magazine, Real Simple, Domino, Glamour and Martha Stewart Living. In addition to my editorial experience, I have produced and designed for stores, restaurants, residential interiors, advertising campaigns, and catalogs with clients that include Apple, Sonos, Tumi, Lilly Pulitzer, Lincoln Motor Company, Baker Furniture, and SoulCycle.
I want a decorated tree. What happens next?
After taking a look at our tree menu, clients email or call us to book their favorite tree style, the tree height that fits best in their home, and a tree species (Douglas fir, Frasier fir, etc.) if they have a preference. We do have a custom tree option, which requires a bit more communication with the clients in order to create the tree of their dreams.
Does your service include everything? For example, do you cart the tree away after the holidays?
Once we confirm the client’s ideal time for the install (we install any time, any day), we arrive with tree and decor in-hand. We place the tree in its stand, string the lights, and hang the ornaments, leaving the home as spotless as when we arrived. We do offer a tree removal service following the holidays for those who want it. Our team is made up of crafty styling assistants who are surprisingly strong.
At the moment, you’re only offering tree decoration, right? Not exterior decoration?
This year we are starting with just the tree, and hoping to move into more extensive decoration next year with wreaths, centerpieces, and full holiday decor. We’ll probably leave the exteriors to those professionals.
How long does it take to set up one tree?
It all depends on the size of the tree, what style of decorations the client has chosen, and the style of the apartment. Although we’ve become pros at putting trees up rather swiftly, these installs can take anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours.
How did you determine which tree styles or looks to offer?
These four styles are truly the trees I feel most drawn towards every year and passionate about. You can’t go wrong with the New England Classic, which is the quintessential Christmas tree with your reds, greens, and golds. The Scandinavian Modern and Uptown Royal styles are two trends I’ve really seen grow in popularity in the past decade. Scandinavian Modern is a nod to clean, contemporary design elements while Uptown Royal is a blue and white theme that could be thought as a more preppy approach to Christmas.
What species of trees do you offer? Where are you sourcing them from?
We have a selection of species to choose from, including Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Frasier fir, Concolor fir, Canaan fir, and Nordman fir. If the client does not have a preference, we hand select the perfect tree based on size choice. Our trees are from local farms in the Northeast, and are freshly cut and delivered within the week. Our price is a reflection of this last fact, but we guarantee that our trees will hold its needle retention much longer than those sold on your corner, which were cut in mass over a month ago.
Tell us about the ornaments and decorations.
Our ornaments vary depending on what style you choose, but we can ensure that they all individually add a touch of glamour to the trees, creating a full and curated look. We have a variety of large and small, textured and solid, matte and glossy, and hand-blown glass and non-breakable ornaments.
Do clients request that you include special ornaments or meaningful pieces to them?
We don’t typically incorporate clients’ ornaments unless they choose the custom tree option. What we do recommend in a lot of cases is the Greenwood Essential tree. For this design, we simply install your tree, string the lights, and hang a few clear glass ornaments. This style is perfect for those who want to add their own personal touch once we’re gone.
Let’s talk about your custom options. What’s possible for a client who wants something totally stepped up and special?
We’re happy to go as crazy and intricate as you want to go. We’re talking ombre, star- studded, on a palm tree, art deco. If you can dream it, we can do it.
You are presently working only in New York, but for the special Robb Report reader, would you be willing to travel?
I love to travel and am more than happy to go anywhere to create a custom tree, by car, plane, boat, you name it (I wouldn’t mind a call from a client in Hawaii or California, I really miss the beach this time of year in NYC). Of course, this would require sending my expert team out with me.
How would you characterize the clients who seek your service?
It feels like in a city like New York, everyone seems to have a million things going at once. We just want to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the holidays by ticking one of those tasks off their to-do list. Our service is great for those who are often jet-setting, but still want to come home to a warm and merry apartment. It’s also ideal for newcomers to the city who want to start their Christmas ornament collection with the help of a design expert.
Honestly, how much do you love holiday decorations?
It’s my favorite holiday and a time when joy and giving are at the forefront of people’s minds. I actually have glass ornaments and a touch of garland hanging in my house year-round. I’ve loved working on this project this year, I get to be surrounded by gorgeous ornaments and fresh-smelling evergreens.