This time of year, I have eggnog on the brain and soon, perhaps, also on the hips. But the real question when considering a holiday beverage is not "How fattening is that?" but "Is it spiked?"

One way is good; the other, well, can be extra good -- if you go easy!

The same holds true for rooms. They're better spiked, too, if you don't overdo it. Along with having all the right ingredients -- a sure color scheme, proper scale, varied textures, good balance and well-placed lighting -- a room benefits from a splash of something unexpected, a touch of wow. Mmm, I like that.

The right room spike transforms a space that's nice in an OK way into a room you'll remember -- a space that makes you say, "Oh!"

This trio of stylized mercury trees adds a festive "spike" to a holiday table, says Dallas designer Betty Lou Phillips. Photo courtesy of Dan
This trio of stylized mercury trees adds a festive "spike" to a holiday table, says Dallas designer Betty Lou Phillips. Photo courtesy of Dan Piassick. ( Dan Piassick )

In my home, I shoot for such moments by, say, slipping a cowhide rug under a carved French desk, placing a spicy orange silk pillow on a gray-suede sofa or propping a silver lamé teddy bear on my teenage daughter's bed.

Teddy bears don't wear lamé, which is exactly what makes the shiny bear a spike. A fuzzy brown teddy would be merely an accessory, eggnog straight. The lamé is the rum in the punch.

But we all know what happens when you overdo. A room with too many spikes gives visitors a visual hangover, just as an overstimulating trip to the toy store makes kids cry.

When my college-age daughters are gearing up for a holiday party, I tell them: "You can wear tight. You can wear short. Or you can wear low cut. But you can't wear it all at once. Pick one."

Besides being tastefully and judiciously applied -- just one spike per room -- the spiking process also demands the right backdrop or it backfires. For starters, the whole room must cohere. If it does, look over the scene and ask yourself, "What would add an element of sass, maybe break a little rule?"

Recently, I asked a few of my favorite designers to share some favorite wow moments -- their decorating equivalent of a little rum in the punch. Here are their comments:

Holiday sparkle: At this time of year, Dallas designer Betty Lou Phillips, author of many best-selling decor books, loves putting "fabulous-looking mercury-glass Christmas trees" on the dining table, where "they're the perfect table centerpiece." These three trees, each different from the others, vary in height (from 10 to 12 inches), and cost $35 to $75 each.

Bring on the bling: Karlie Adams, of Karlie Anne Interiors in Denver, likes some sparkle with her distressed wood. "Even in our rustic Colorado designs, I'm using a little bling -- a contemporary crystal chandelier married with a rustic stone fireplace, or glass knobs on wood Shaker cabinets."

A room that roars, but softly: Interior designer Elaine Griffin, of Elaine Griffin Interior Design of New York, loves leopard prints. "Every room needs a touch of black and a touch of yellow, and a well-done leopard print is where the two meet brilliantly," she says. "Uber-style icon Diana Vreeland adored it, and so do I, especially as a super-chic throw pillow."

Find a fabulous fixture: Designer Katie Leede, owner of Digs By Katie, of New York, recently hung a 36-inch-wide metal light fixture shaped like an exotic flower in a guest room. The "Flame of the Forest" chandelier, by Stephanie Odegard, drops its verdigris metal "petals" from the ceiling in a showy spray. "It's a dramatic wowzer that manages to work with the nature motifs running throughout the room, without overwhelming," says Leede. The room with the fab fixture features a watery, earthy color scheme, wallpaper with papyrus plants (Leede's own design) and artwork of birds and rock gardens.

So you get where I'm going with this. Now, please pass the (preferably spiked) eggnog. Cheers.

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