Athena Calderone's moody Christmas tree setting has reset festive traditions

The interiors guru has zoned her home for the holiday with a contrasting color palette

Athena Calderone's Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Athena Calderone)

Designer Athena Calderone is an enduring source of home inspiration, and the festive season is no exception. The figure behind EyeSwoon has shared a glimpse of her Christmas tree – and it comes with a dark twist that has broken holiday conventions. 

After showcasing her Christmas decorating ideas on Instagram (opens in new tab), Athena shared that she had decided to move her Christmas tree into a darker part of her home – and now stands in a dark navy corner of her living space. 'We decided to switch things up this year, and I am absolutely loving this moody departure,' she says.

However, while choosing to surround her Christmas tree in darkness is a statement in itself, the designer adds that it allows her to create 'two distinct celebratory zones' that act in stark contrast to each other.

Athena Calderone's Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Athena Calderone)

Alongside the inky corner above, Athena exhibited a brighter area (below) that epitomizes her design signature – while creating a juxtaposition against the darker space. The designer also shares that she enjoys coffee with stockings by the fireplace, while the navy' family room' is for 'gifts in the family room with tunes.'

'I've personally never subscribed to the traditional red and green version of holiday décor,' the designer (opens in new tab) explains in the discussion of the brighter space. 'I love the ritual of holiday decorating, but I do believe that festive décor can be harmonious with the everyday pieces in your home. And for me, that means neutrals,' she adds in the discussion of her interior design idea

'As you know, neutral on neutral and texture on texture can, in fact, be rich and layered.' Therefore, while the two areas stand in contrast with one another, the accessories in the brighter room similarly create a beautiful contradiction that balances the overall scheme.

Athena Calderone's Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Athena Calderone)

'Chunky knit stockings [hang] by contrasting ebonized reindeer hooks, set against a verdant garland, replete with iron candle holder,' she describes. 

Naturally, you're inspired by Athena Calderone's contrasting Christmas trend, but how else can you bring this look into your home? Alongside learning from the master herself, designer Annie Sloan (opens in new tab) similarly reveals how you can interrupt transitions with a moodier, contrastable scheme. 

'Traditional ornament colors are, of course, red and green, but if you want to do something a little different, choose a green that isn't too dark,' the designer shares. 'It has to work with your existing moody color scheme.' 

Athena Calderone's Christmas decorations

(Image credit: Athena Calderone)

Annie recommends adding metallic accents through tree ornaments on a statement block-colored tree. 'The single-use of color is bold and looks expensive, while the contrast between the sheen of pine needles and the soft velvet finish of matt ornaments is deeply satisfying,' she says. 

Athena's contrastable Christmas color trend is one we expect to see for many holidays to come. Dark paints at the ready.   

Megan Slack
News Writer

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc’s homes titles, including Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. As a News Writer, she often focuses on micro-trends, wellbeing, celebrity-focused pieces, and everything IKEA. 


Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and expansive collection of houseplants.