In my constant internal (yet playful) battle between “low-maintenance mom of two” and “internet stylist,” “mom” is currently in the lead, as she should be. Meanwhile across the street at the sofa battling arena “traditional navy blue” sofa has won for the month of December. Typically we DRIP over here in holiday decor, on every surface (mostly to give inspiration/ideas) but I tried to pull it back while still feeling festive and fun and VERY COZY. This Christmas, I made the shift towards A. More personal and sentimental pieces (let the ornament obsession begin!), B. Using what we already had (you’ll see a lot from years past), C. Easier maintenance (yes I used a real garland and tree, but less cedar everywhere) and didn’t replace/store as much art and accessories, and D. cozy, cozy, cozy (thus the return of the dark sofa and those big gray chairs).
I was in New York for work last week, and, as I wrote this, I had like 30 minutes to get it all down, so I approached it with an old school blog style “brain dump.” Hopefully, you’ll glean some tips and get some inspiration throughout said dump. 🙂 If nothing else, you’ll know what I would change.
***Side Note: I have a pretty epic tree fail to tell you as this tree I’m about to show you was not the first, nor second, but third tree that we bought, set up, lit and decorated (more on Stories). In short, I messed up and got one too Scandi and sparse (Brian said it was depressing), then Brian chose a classic bushy one but it was too skinny for that window, so I had to get an 8-9 foot one and cut it down to be 7 feet, thus making it wide enough to fill that massive window. Meanwhile my dining room and neighbor are celebrating the EHD free tree giveaway of 2019. The kids were indeed confused when we were again UNDECORATING our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Okay. I didn’t want it to “drip” again, but I tried to have something holiday in every corner: the big bushy tree in the window, the garland over the opposite window, the faux tree with lights in the corner (almost like a plant), and something over the fireplace (welcome back, bear, sans wreath-collar this time).
The biggest change for me was the realization, like a train in the face, that trees should be personal and sentimental. Had someone told me that your tree is basically a scrapbook for your year and your entire life, I would have understood this YEARS AGO. But growing up we didn’t do an annual ornament and while I think we made sweet/janky ornaments in school, that wasn’t our thing in our family…at least not that I remember.
Shop the Look: Tree Topper | Small Ceramic House Ornaments | Wood Ornaments | Starburst Ornaments | Wood Bead Garland (similar) | White Faux Fur Throw | Cream Embroidered Tassel Pillow | Sloth Ornament | Red Ball Ornament Set | White Abstract Painting by Melinda Forster
Well the TIDE HAS TURNED and I’m currently obsessed with commemorating our lives with ornaments as if photos don’t exist and the only way to remember each year is through our ornaments. If you are scared for my family, imagine how scared they are. Brian was in Othello this year, so boom, a mini Shakespeare on its way from Etsy. 2019 was the year of soup, right? A little copper soup pot is obviously going on that tree.
I think the reason I always had a more curated tree was simple: I didn’t have the collection of ornaments because my kids were so young and since I didn’t have this tradition growing up, it’s not like I bought myself an ornament when I was 28 (may I retroactively???). But now I do, I get it and it makes me incredibly happy.
I also robbed Brian’s parents over Thanksgiving of all their family ornaments that had a story or were homemade by them since they don’t put up a tree and join us instead. How sweet are all of those???? Most have dates on the bottom and many were handmade or sewn by Brian’s grandma. I realize that many of you might be rolling your eyes like I’ve just announced on the weather channel the benefits of wearing rainboots as opposed to cross-trainers when jumping in mud puddles, but moms learn things when they learn things. What can you do?
Shocking that adding meaning to things is some sort of revelation, next I’ll tell you that candid family photos make a house feel more personal (they do, obviously).
Speaking of, I lightened up the shelves guys and I’m MUCH happier.
Both sides just have some neutral books, white or wood-framed family photos, some white holiday trees and houses. Admittedly, each vignette could use some cedar branches falling over or some pops of red, but the room as a whole feels really cozy and warm, without being messy or overdone so I didn’t do what I usually do (plus that cedar dries and yes makes a mess, so great for a party of Christmas Eve though, but opt for faux if you want it to look good for longer).
I also hung a piece of art on the shelves which I LOVE. I’ve wanted to knock out the top shelf so that I could lean art, but before I grabbed the sledgehammer, I hung this there instead and I’m living with this now. What do you think?
The houses are from last year (but Target has more this year, and they’re like $5 and $10 a pop) and the trees and frames are from there, as well.
Next to the shelving, I went a bit gothic style-wise, just so the holidays know how edgy I am.
That lady had a really great holiday in 1746, I promise (it’s an original portrait with name and date on the back, she real old). I wish I had lit those candles, but otherwise, I like that weird moody vignette. I decided to try Christmas berries because Mallory didn’t understand my aversion to them and gave me the challenge to make them work. Once they were next to lady, kinda sparse, in the black vessel and modern candles, I actually really like them.
I know you guys are going to give me flack for the lady and the bear…two rather creepy holiday elements that I experimented with this year, but it’s fun and again, it’s just an experiment. Holiday decor isn’t permanent. Do weird stuff, people.
Shop the Look: Rug (Similar) | Memory Foam Rug Pad | Double Shaded Lamp | Square Pastel Art (top right of bookshelf) by Ninos Studio | Fairy Lights | Beige Pom Pom Lumbar Pillow (on lounge chair) | 4ft Faux Tree with Lights
Looking at this now, the bear does kinda look like it has wings; like not like an angel, but a demon. ‘Tis the season!
The textiles are warm and cozy with the falala pillow and Joy being my subtle version of Christmas pillows (both from Target and so cute).
I switched out the credenza for the vintage chair/ottoman and added more art:
I LOVE the idea of this. I love the art going to the floor and just one chair/ottoman engaging that corner. I might reupholster the antique chaise in a floral, or keep this chair and reupholster it in something happier because that gray is pretty dirty and old with lots of stains—stay tuned. We moved the sheepskin over there because it’s 2019 and we can’t end the year without one more shot of a sheepskin. How else will we know that this photo was taken this year?
Ugh, that carpet is so cozy you guys. It’s like 2 inches of plushness (and the memory foam carpet pad doesn’t hurt at all). Along with the wood and pillows, this room is pretty darn inviting.
I bought that weird floor lamp in the back of a thrift store and rigged that shade onto it. I kinda want to get a red or white pleated or tapered (or both) shade, as if those are easy to find.
In other holiday risk-taking news, I went with a square wreath (!!) and framed what many of you have DM’d calling “testicle ornaments”(!!!!). I personally DO NOT (well, did not) see the resemblance and was proud of myself for finding pretty wood ornaments for $1 at the flower market and dangling them gently inside a unique boxed wreath. For the record, nobody said to remove them, and now I can’t unsee it.
Lastly for the piano, I kept it super simple with cedar branches, fairy lights, a wood nutcracker from years past and pretty art/accessories instead of doing a full-on holiday piano-scape. The M. Quan bells kinda feel holiday anyway (as does the piano music, who knows why?). Perhaps this is the year that we carol around the piano (I’m serious, actually).
I have two regrets while looking at the photos (this always happens and no I’m not bummed, I just like to externally process literally everything that I’m thinking to you):
- I wish I had added either more lit candles OR more pops of red or more pattern. Will do. It’s only December 6 and that’s an easy fix. If I had cool fireplace tools, that would be awesome, or maybe a pouf in the foreground. I just can’t tell why it feels a bit colder in photos than in person (I think it’s the gray chair on gray rug with matching pillows…oh and that gothic dead lady in the corner staring at us with her cold dead eyes).
- The bear might be a bit aggressive. I had a wreath there but it looked just so expected, but it was warm. I tried to shake it up and do something sculptural. I still like it, but is it THE PERFECT THING? Nah. Maybe a massive lit crucifix to really ring in the season…
Now for the entry:
I don’t think I’ve shown you this vintage piece before but I LOVE IT. I bought it from MidCenturyLA and it’s a gorgeous rosewood that houses all the sunglasses, unopened mail, pocket GARBAGE and strangely I put my hair extensions in there which thrills Brian every time he opens it. It’s odd the places one shoves things when suffering a “clutter body” attack.
I draped faux garland up the stairs and added fairy lights. So easy.
How cute is this advent calendar???? Its little drawers come out and while it’s a bit out of reach for the kids, you bet we bring it down every morning. I actually love how this turned out (thus wanting to bring in a bit more red into the living room). This always happens. Three years ago, I kept it conservative, looked at the photos and added another layer, then last year I went all out and two weeks in had to remove a lot of stuff because I couldn’t handle the clutter. It’s a hard balance especially for someone who is a mom who can’t handle a lot of extra stuff to put away, and a stylist who LOVES STUFF and color and pattern.
The front door is so playful and fun, and makes me happy every time I come home. The wreath is the same one I have in the kitchen windows with a flickering faux candle that I love.
And here we are: the only thing that matters. Really, ever.
I really, really really like them and so far between decorating FOUR trees (they have one in their room with a ton of playful ornaments and loads of color) and making a million ornaments (the DIY post coming this afternoon at 11 PT), we’ve had a wonderful holiday already.
All the links to most of what we have (that’s available for sale) are sprinkled throughout under the photo where you first see things, but we also rounded it all up plus more of my favorites below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and weigh in on the bear/balls debate.
1. Wooden Ornaments Set of 3 | 2. Winter Blush Gnome Ornament Gray Hat | 3. 4pc Jingle Bells Christmas Ornament Set Red | 4. Nutcracker Christmas Ornament | 5. Wool Skiing Cat Christmas Ornament | 6. Round Tree Skirt Sour Cream Embroidered with Tassels | 7. Unicorn Cloche Glass Christmas Ornament | 8. Lit Up House Ceramic Ornament | 9. Truck Christmas Ornament Red | 10. 12ft Wood Bead Garland White | 11. Sloth Ornament | 12. Holiday Stocking Blue Plaid | 13. LED Dewdrop Lighted Star | 14. Golf Cart Glass Christmas Ornament | 15. Nativity Scene Christmas Ornament | 16. Hanging Twig Christmas Tree Figurine | 17. 10ct Glass Assorted Christmas Ornaments | 18. Glitter Starburst Christmas Ornament | 19. 4ct Wooden House Candle Noel Christmas Stocking Holders | 20. Fair Isle Pattern Christmas Stocking Navy | 21. Fabric Santa White | 22. Santa Mailbox Christmas Ornament | 23. Cream & Black Mini 40mm Glass Ornaments 9ct | 24. 20″x8″ Tassel Christmas Stocking Cream | 25. Boiled Wool Polar Bear Christmas Ornament | 26. Tree Farm Nursery Barn Christmas Ornament | 27. Fabric Deer Red
1. Joy Toss Pillow Red Hearth & Hand with Magnolia | 2. Faux Mohair Buffalo Check Throw Blanket | 3. Mongolian Faux Fur Throw Pillow | 4. Tree Embroidered Toss Pillow | 5. fa la la Printed Velvet Oversize Lumbar Pillow | 6. Woodland Carved Wood Accent Table Black | 7. Houndstooth Throw Pillow Red | 8. Texture Faux Fur Throw Blanket | 9. 18″x30″ Home for the Holidays Doormat | 10. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Throw Pillow | 11. Quilted Velvet Lumbar Throw Pillow | 12. Cable Knit Chenille Throw
1. Ceramic House Decorative Figurines | 2. 15″x12″ Countdown Christmas Village | 3. Letters to Santa Mailbox Green | 4. Large Lit Standing Metal Christmas Star | 5. Small Fresh Cut Trees Wagon | 6. Large Ceramic House with Gold Roof | 7. 30ct Christmas LED Lights Battery Operated | 8. Large Mercury Glass Christmas Tree | 9. Phillips 50ct Battery Operated Christmas Premium LED Dewdrop Fairy Lights | 10. 9oz Stoneware Candle Balsam Fir | 11. Large Gold Glitter Christmas Tree | 12. 8×10 Wall Decor Joy
1. 72″ Faux Cypress Garland | 2. Lit LED Wire Christmas Wreath JOY | 3. Metal Lantern Pillar Candle Holder Black | 4. 4ft Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree Potted Balsam Fir | 5. Galvanized Farm House Lit Decorative Figurine | 6. Large Flocked Bottle Brush Tree | 7. Christmas Wreath Gold | 8. 72″ Faux White Pine Garland with Berry | 9. Small Lit Birch Wrap Tree Decorative Christmas Figurine | 10. Bushy Flocked Tree in Galvanized Tin | 11. 20″ Boxwood Artificial Christmas Wreath with Gold Bells | 12. 10.5″x3.9″ Bottle Brush Christmas Tree with Wood Base | 13. Small Ceramic Christmas Tree | 14. 2pk 3ft Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree | 15. 28″ Christmas Flocked Balsam Fir Artificial Wreath | 16. 26″ Rope Christmas Tree Collar | 17. 26″ Prelit LED Faux Candle Mixed Greenery Wreath | 18. 5″x2.7″ 8pk Bottle Brush Christmas Tree Set | 19. 4pc White Bottle Brush Trees Decorative Figurines | 20. 16.5″x4.7″ Bottle Brush Sisal Christmas Tree | 21. Large Ceramic Christmas Tree Decorative Figurine
***photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp