Happy Holidays House Tour, Inside – 2016 (with helpful hints & tips)

 

2016 has been a rather mad year (broken foot in March, graduating my tattoo apprenticeship in July, getting married in September, hubby’s surgery in November, and that crazy election). I am very much ready for 2017, but that won’t stop me from sending 2016 out with a good time. We have so very much to be thankful for…

I scaled back just a bit this year (I know, it’s still completely over the top 🙂 We now have a smaller tree (I’ll describe what I did below) and I left a few decorations packed in the basement this time.

The table isn’t too different from last year, I did add a fuzzy leopard runner just for fun. (I had bought it at a yard sale for $5 years ago). Everything else I had, just moved things around a bit. The beautiful flowers are from Trader Joe’s. (Tip: They have the best price on flowers in town! Better than wholesale in most cases.) Everything you see has been collected from thrift stores and yard sales over the years.

The one addition to the mantle this year are the gold “pine” branches, a thrift store find from a couple months ago. (Everything on the mantle has been collected from the thrift store over the years). I usually add some fresh pine boughs but decided to stick to the fake garland this year for easier clean-up :-).

I was lucky enough to find a second set of clear bubble lights at the Goodwill this year for $3.99 (I LOVE bubble lights! I’d happily cover the house with them.) and put them on a garland by the front window. I usually put all the peacock feathers in the tree, but since we scaled down the tree this year I made a little display of them with the green balls in a vase in the corner.

I love our tree this year! A bit smaller and fits the space better. It is still covered with all our delightful Asian/Indian inspired ornaments along with feathers and new this year, flowers! (see below for a step-by-step on the tree).

Because I went so nuts on the front room, I keep the living room a bit more simple. Just my favorite pink tree and the big pink ornament. And of course flowers (Trader Joe’s again) Holiday Decor Trick!: Many places that sell fresh trees will let you take the branches they trim off the bottoms for free! I use these in my flower arrangements and outdoor pots. Just be sure and ask first if you can take them 😉

Here is the step-by-step on the tree:

Our new tree. It is a 6.5′ fakey with white led lights. I put it on top of 4 paint cans to make it taller (and keep the pups off it). Stage 2 I added 4 strings of pink lights as well as my favorite string of color-changing star lights. (Hint: wrap the light strands around the branches for a professional look). Stage 3 I layered extra bits of fabric to form a tree skirt. Next came 3 pink feather boas tucked inside the tree and a few pretty pink silk orchids. I love the way the pink feathers add a glow to the tree. Next came all the ornaments. (Hint: layer your ornaments throughout the tree, from inside by the trunk all the way to the tips, saving your nicest ornaments for the outside.) And lastly, I added some jewel-toned feathers to fill it in and top it. The only new thing this year is the tree, everything else I had from previous years or was re-purposed from other projects.

Happy Holidays everyone! I’ll post pictures of the outside tomorrow.

My Holiday Decor Video, as Promised.

Here is the video of our holiday decorations as promised. You’ll see my infamous bubble lights and ornament spinners in action, and the funky assortment of ornaments on our Asian/India-inspired tree. (FYI the spinning ornaments featured in the video are all hand-blown/painted Polish glass purchased at Neiman Marcus Last Call during the big pre-Thanksgiving sale for an average of $10 each. They retail around $50. I get a new one or two every year.) You can see the blog on the mantle HERE and the blog on the tree HERE. The video is all shot on my iphone, I know it’s a bit shaky, so be kind, I did the best I could. (It was edited in iMovie) Now if Santa would just bring me the Cannon 5d Mark II camera I want, my pictures and videos would be much improved 😉

Enjoy! and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

How to Deck Out Your Mantle Like a Pro for the Holidays (A DIY…on a Cheap-Ass Budget, of course)

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In today’s blog I’m going to share the secrets of the pros for doing up your holiday mantle. I used to be a pro. I worked as a floral designer and event planner for over a decade, so I have a few industry tricks up my holiday sleeves. I’ll be showing you all kinds of holiday goodness over the next couple of weeks, but today it’s all about the mantle. (Note: I am a serious Maximalist, the Liberace of Holiday Decor. If a minimal look is what you’re into, this may not be the DIY for you.)

The Basics:

1. Theme

2. Foundation

3. Lighting

4. Balance

5. Layers

6. Details

1. THEME. For a polished, professional look always start with a theme and/or color scheme in mind, and stick to it. Usually a 2-3 color scheme works best. In keeping with a teeny tiny budget, I work with what I have. This year, because of a couple key thrift store finds, I had an abundance of gold and brown. As a bonus, this elegant color scheme goes great on our mantle. I went through all the holiday decorations and gathered up everything that was brown and gold.

2. FOUNDATION. Start with a solid foundation, something that “anchors” the look. In this case, my foundation is about 16 feet of faux garland, doubled over itself on top and draped in the front and down the sides. The Garland is firmly seated in place so it will hold what is to come. (A few of the wired bits of garland are tucked in between the mantle and the wall. If you need something to anchor to, I highly recommend those 3M removable adhesive hooks. They are a life-saver! Well, at least a wall-saver.)

  * A Note on Faux Garland. I love this stuff. It can last for decades, it’s cheap, and it’s positionable. When the garland I’ve been using inside starts to look a little shabby, I move it outside. The trick to getting this stuff to look good is “fluffing”. The little branches are all wired and get squished. You need to fluff up the garland by gently pulling up the branches and shaping the greens. I find most of my faux garland super-cheap at the thrift store, and I even found a big bag of it that one of my neighbors had thrown out. Free! Score!

3. LIGHTING. Lighting is really part of the foundation. Make sure the color of your lighting goes with your color scheme. White pretty much always works. I recommend LED lights. I know, they are more pricey, but they last longer, use less energy to light, and won’t get too hot and burn your house down. That would suck. There are two big common mistakes many people make with lighting. The first is not enough lights, and the second is messy lights, ie: wires showing and lights sticking out all over the place. No one wants unsightly lights 😉 To look like a pro, wrap your lights around the garland, tucking in any wires that show, and use a lot of lights! I used a 150 string on my mantle, and it is just barely enough, even with the added string of bubble lights.

4. BALANCE. From the foundation up, make sure your mantle is visually balanced. Find the center and place decorations evenly out from there. (Unless you are going for an asymmetrical balance, like I did for my Thanksgiving Mantle) Stand back every so often while your working and give it a good look to be sure everything is even.

5. LAYERS. Get in deep! Layers are key for a pro look. Place items tucked in the back, on all sides, in the middle, everywhere! Layering gives visual depth and fullness.

6. DETAILS. The little things count. Polish off your display by paying attention to the details. Are your cords tucked in? Are all the lights working? Stand back and give it a good looksy. Does it need a final touch of bling?

 

OK, there are the basics, let’s get started.

Foundation & Lighting. Here I have my foundation greens in place, and my white lights wrapped into the garland. (Yes, that’s dorky-ass me and my iphone reflected in the mirror, glad you can’t see that I’m in pajamas)

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Next, more lights (a string of bubble lights. I love these things. I find a place to use them every year) and a few sprigs of glittery faux eucalyptus I picked up at the thrift store last year.

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Time for a little sparkle with a bit of gold lame’ fabric tucked under the front and behind the sides. The fabric is secured in place with the wired garland branches. Lame’ is cheap! My favorite fabric source is Distinctive Fabric.

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Now we get busy with ornaments and pine cones. The pine cones I save and reuse every year. All of the ornaments came from the thrift store, collected over the years. (Even our wacky stocking was a thrift store find). Most of the brown and gold ones are from a big bucket of Martha Steward “shatter resistant” (read: plastic) ornaments I snagged at the Goodwill a couple weeks ago for $5. They were new! (retail $39) Can’t beat that with a stick.

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All the ornaments were simply secured to the garland with the wired branches. Easy peasy. Note the Balance & Layers. There are pieces at every depth and level. And for the final detail, I tucked in some pheasant feathers to the middle and either end. I use feathers for just about every holiday. Cheap, festive, unusual, and reusable. Done! Well mostly. I am looking to change out the red candles for white ones…

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There’s much more Holiday Goodness to come! FOLLOW the blog and you won’t miss a thing.