Burnished and Bright, Atlanta Designer Kevin O’Gara Decorates in Jewel Tones for the Holidays
‘Tis the season for family and fêtes, and nothing brings us the same joy as seeing how people use our pieces to celebrate with those they love.
This is especially true when it comes to the fabulous ways that creatives like Kevin O’Gara incorporate our pieces into their designs. The founder of Thou Swell, an Atlanta lifestyle, entertaining and interior design blog, uses SmithHönig designs to bring some wanderlust to the winter wonderlands he creates.
O’Gara grew up surrounded by antiques and architecture in the classic southern style. That formal feel still influences his aesthetic, which he has been finessing since he began pinning interiors during his teens. (During his senior year of high school, he famously decorated a historic home for his dad.) Now in his early twenties, O’Gara is an influential blogger and photographer who just launched his first rug collection. He incorporates quintessentially southern elements into his designs, but filtered through his playful and contemporary perspective, which all mixes together to create a fresh approach he calls ‘New Southern Style.’
In his own words: “I take that traditional southern style and refresh it with lighter colors and mix in modern elements but still have that foundation of traditional shapes and silhouettes to root the design in that.”
“I like to say it’s a fresh, updated take on traditional southern style.”
As a couple of fresh and not-so-traditional southern gals, his approach speaks to us on a very personal level—so needless to say, we were dying to see what he would do with some of our pieces. We’re thrilled to partner with him on a jewel tone holiday design for his cousin Meghan’s apartment. O’Gara wanted to layer bold playfulness into this bright and light space, adding warmth through texture, charm, lush color, and a striking, yet harmonious, feel through his nuanced placement of pieces.
“Decorating for the holidays is something that’s in the back of my mind throughout the year,” O’Gara said. “It’s fun to find inspiration in other places like fashion or building off of décor trends from the rest of the year.”
Jewel tones are a big decor trend this year, so it’s no surprise that for this project, O’Gara’s creativity was sparked by these sumptuous shades.
“These really rich jewel tones set the tone for the holiday décor that I put together,” O’Gara said. “My cousin already has some really fun colors going on in there with a blush accent wall and that navy sectional, and so I thought bringing in these beautiful colors would be a great way to make the space feel cozy.”
O’Gara knew how he was going to take “shaking things up” to the next level on this holiday décor project the first time one of our tassels shimmied in front of his eyes. Awash in neutrals with accents of pink and blue, O’Gara drew on the apartment’s existing color scheme with his choices. Our silk tassels in Lotus and Peacock reflect the room’s colors, while the Courtyard and Henna options bring a welcoming contrast.
“Immediately when I saw the tassels, I knew that they would be perfect for a Christmas tree,” O’Gara said. “They are fun and non-traditional, but perfect for hanging on the tree and adding some bohemian flair.”
O’Gara likes how the tassels look mixed in with the traditional round ornaments; they provide an unexpected touch and add some variety of shape and texture to the tree. The brass at the top of each tassel adds detail while the colors provide some personality.
“The tassels are so versatile, you can throw them on doorknobs or hardware or the Christmas tree,” O’Gara said. “It’s really fun to think of places to bring tassels into your décor. They are my favorite, but the velvet pillows are a close second.”
“I just love velvet all year round, but especially in the winter. It feels super cozy so that’s always a go-to for me,” he added.
The quest for coziness inspired O’Gara to go beyond the tree and layer three of our Luxurious Velvet Pillows on to his cousin’s sectional (and we also spy the Lucca Hand-Tufted Maze Area Rug in Sky from his new rug collection gracing the floor).
Gracefully layering in playful color, pattern and texture into a traditional space is an O’Gara specialty, and he makes it look easy, but understands it can be daunting. If diving fully into jewel tone holiday décor seems overwhelming, he suggests you start small with accessories.
“We put one of the vintage, one-of-a-kind pillows on my cousins’ bed and there are so many different colors in that fabric,” O’Gara said.
These pillows are made from gorgeous vintage and traditional textiles collected on our travels.
“Because there are so many beautiful colors in the pillow it tied in many different colors from her bedroom right into the design. Because there was a lot to work with, it was easy to add to the mix.”
Take your holiday decor in a colorful new direction. Add one-of-a-kind pillows to your family gathering space.