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Sukkah Refresh

Building the sukkah is an opportune time for the whole family to enjoy being creative together.  There is nothing like that feeling of sitting under the stars with friends, family, and of course the ushpizin, in our handmade dwellings.  With a little imagination and few new decorations, you can pull together a fresh new look for your sukkah this year.

Every good idea starts with a good theme.  Anything from rustic to modern to a color story to an exciting locale will do, just make sure you keep it cohesive.  It should be fun and festive with an edge, so as not to look juvenile.  Take advantage of the opportunity to try out a design style you’ve admired from afar.  This is a temporary dwelling, so dare to be expressive!  A little too much design is a good thing here.  More is more, and that’s the point.

Whether your sukkah is made of plywood or faux wood panels, update them with color!  Use a good primer to guarantee that the paint will adhere.  If you’re extra creative, experiment with color blocking or stripes,  using painters tape to mask different areas.  Carry the color throughout in your hanging decorations and tablescape.  You could even stencil the monogram or initials on the wall using metallic paint.  Coordinate it with your custom napkins and placemats.  Craft stores sell a variety of dimensional marquees or light up letters that can be hung on the wall.  Write the family name, or “Welcome” in a few languages.  You’ll have quite a WOW factor and won’t need much more décor than that.

Jungle fever hit home interiors and party designs everywhere this year.  If you couldn’t commit to oversized palm leaves wallpaper in the house, now is the perfect time to try it – outside.  Create the look with an entire canopy of massive leaves, sukkah poles wrapped in burlap, and rows and rows of garlands of fruit and string lights.  You might feel like you are sitting in Machane Yehuda if you also set the table with overflowing bowls of nuts, seeds, and colorful dry fruit.

If you want to convey a “Middle Eastern” vibe in a different way, consider hanging as many glass lanterns as the schach will hold.  Color them turquoise, orange, and fuchsia and use the same color palette on the plates, napkins, glasses, and floral arrangements.  Overuse the colors again in the pillows on a few chairs and the colorful shawls on a few others.  Layer some crazy, colorful rugs for the perfect finishing touch. This will also have the added benefit of adding warmth underfoot, too.

Do “modern whimsical” with a monochromatic palette and fun geometric shapes.  Play with a variety of sizes of hanging paper lanterns in your chosen colors.  Have ugly plastic folding chairs?  Make it seem like they are part of your theme and continue with black, white and silver EVERYTHING.  Layer plates and bowls in opposite colors and alternate place settings, one with black on the bottom, the next white on the bottom, and so on.  Centerpieces should be kept sleek and simple.   Don’t get too serious, though. Include your kids’ artwork, but give it an upgrade by mounting the pieces on a thick white mat board or hang in black frames and arrange as they do on chic gallery walls!

If you want to adhere to the autumn feeling, make a dramatic statement with bold, rustic touches. Style the table with materials like cork, wood, stone, and metal.  Try a soft, natural linen tablecloth and napkins.  Keep dishes simple and streamlined so that the accessories can do the talking.  Mix in lots of fresh potted flowers and hanging foliage.  Twigs and raffia add to the earthy vibe, so incorporate them into your hanging decorations.  A good sukkah needs good lighting, but stay true to your design.  Choose soft-light string lights that add to, not detract from, your natural ambiance.

Let the spirit of the season bring out your creative side.  Get inspired by the changing colors and nature around us.  May the time, energy and fun you invest in designing your sukkah provide you a beautiful, festive and cozy place to enjoy spending the chag. 

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