Last year we decorated our house in LA per usual – we went all out which took 3 days with 3 people. It’s my job so this is actually “normal”. Then two days before Christmas we came up here for the break. Obviously, I wanted to decorate here a bit with a tree, etc, but we weren’t going to shoot it for the blog (it was too late) so I just kept it easy and threw up some greenery, wood and white ornaments, and fake candles. It took a few hours, max. Lo and behold it ended up being SO pretty for the amount of time it took. Granted I had great stuff to work with, mostly leftover Target and things from years past, but it was so pretty we even kept it up until February (which is questionable for sure). Brian looked at me in earnest and said, “Can you like, just do Christmas like this all the time?”
What? You don’t want to spend 5 hours wrapping fake presents in November? You don’t want 50 feet of real garland that has to be carefully hung everywhere with pine needles riddling our floors for a month? What? You don’t want every single surface dripping with holiday cheer? I love how we’ve always decorated our house for the holidays, but when you are shooting every angle you guess what, you decorate every angle.
And then I realized the biggest styling secret that truly has saved me from myself – LESS SURFACES. This house is easier because there are less surfaces, which is truly the only way to have less stuff, while not having it feel cold. An empty credenza? Well, that’s sad, so you feel like you need to put stuff on it (the ‘you’ here is ‘me’). But if you don’t NEED the credenza and you nix it all together in favor of a pretty piece of art (or bench), then indeed you can’t put stuff on it, thus less stuff. I know that I love stuff, “stuff” is kinda my thing but it also DRIVES ME NUTS, unless it’s perfectly picture-ready styled all the time. So in a way, I was my own worst enemy – creating clutter, to then just have perpetual ‘clutter body’. It’s a true marvel that I didn’t figure this out earlier. Now I know that not all of us are leaning towards a ‘less stuff’ lifestyle, but it’s actually been amazing living up here with so much less and I’ve been mentally so much happier living with less. SO the holidays shouldn’t be any different. Let’s go.
Last year we had just white, green and wood with lots of twinkle lights and it was DREAMY. But this year the kids and Brian both wanted some red. So I wanted to bring it in a subtle and sweet way, and keep it feeling very scandi. So I looked for details like red stitching, red tassels, and small red ornaments and I LOVE how it looks. You can do Christmas however you want, but I think this mostly green/white/wood combo with sweet red moments is what I like IN THIS ROOM (wait til you see the family room – she red).
FAUX GREENERY Is My New Friend
First of all, it took me a long time to get on the fake tree bandwagon, truly, and I will ALWAYS be excited to go pick out a tree with the kids (and we might get a small one for our front door on the outside in a pot in December) but once you get a good faux tree that you can store in a box with no watering, no drying, no pine needles you realize how much easier it is. And with covid, it makes so much sense to just order online. I always refused to have a fake one in our living room, but since we were headed up here so close to Christmas last year I just ordered one in online beforehand to avoid the hassle. We had two real trees in LA, we didn’t need another. This one I ordered last year after figuring out where it should go to make the room function its best. We thought about putting it on the big window wall and getting a huge one (which is what the previous owners had done) but we would have had to completely rearrange the space which is FINE. But that layout made the space flow so much less (I know because we tried it last year, much to Brian’s horror, after Christmas before we took it down just to make sure it was the best layout for this year). By putting it near the window it blocked off the flow to the kitchen and it removed one of our seating options (plus we had to rotate the rug, etc, we like the face the fireplace, etc, etc). So we put it next to the fireplace where it is now.
Now I will say this – HOLE IN THE MARKET ALERT – SOME faux tree inventor needs to design a tree that is tall and wide, but more flat in the back so it doesn’t force it to stick out into the room as much. Does that make any sense? We wanted tall (9′) but most of the ones that are 10′ are like 5′ wide which would have floated too far into the room and taken up so much space. I wish this tree were wider on the sides, but not on the back (I suppose we could get a bigger one then trim the back. – give it a back buzz cut?). Anyway, so if you are thinking that it’s kinda small you aren’t wrong, but it was $400 and I can’t return it and it’s pretty. Maybe next year I’ll put it up here in the loft where I’m typing and search for one with the exact proportions that I want (which is limiting because I want the balsam scandi style). OMG I’M SO SICK OF TALKING ABOUT THIS TREE.
Re faux-ness – it’s the same with garland. Is it as a pretty as real garland? Nope. Is it close? YES. Once you put it up and add candles and lights, it does the job in such an easy way. It’s an investment upfront but I’ve used that same garland for 3 years (and bought more this year for the railing above). It’s GOOD.
If you are anti faux trees I know what you are likely also super against… FAUX CANDLES. And that’s ok. But I personally love a lot of candlelight, every night in fact and that is simply unsustainable and unsafe with real candles. But I’m picky about my faux candles – I like a warm glow, waxy look, and a flickering flame. Last year I bought a fancy big set that I couldn’t find this year (just found it) so this year I bought this set and they were super splurgy and by Sterno, so I thought they would be amazing, and they are good. But I wish they were bigger and I would have likely not spent so much if I had read the dimensions. They are good, don’t get me wrong, and specifically, I like turning them on and off via a remote (I don’t know how to program it). They are just so easy and look real enough.
The big star is from Target (last year, sorry!) and the stocking holders are 3 years old (and light up but I didn’t have new tiny batteries). These are super similar though. We used two of these garlands and some twinkle lights. It KINDA bugs me that there is such a gap in the middle, but we don’t have 5 people in our family and I couldn’t spread them out evenly with the star. Actually, I could have probably just moved them closer together and put two stockings inside the ‘legs’ of the star. Oh well.
First, please note matching pajamas WITH THE DOGS. Last year I kept aside a lot of the wood/white ornaments and brought them up here, but then I went to CostPlus and they had all these cute scandi wood cut out houses and white paper stars (they fold open) and then I went to a couple of craft stores (last year) and bought all their wood ornaments (that birdie keeps trying to paint and does not understand the concept of just having raw wood). Most of our personalized ornaments (and boy are there a TON) are on the tree in the family room – again stay tuned for that. Lastly in February, last year, I was thrifting and I stumbled upon a big ’25 cent ornament’ bin. I spotted some of these vintage scandi wood ornaments and started digging furiously through the bin to find more, serotonin pumping hard and fast. I think I got 30 total and ran to the cash register as if I were going to get caught, or like there was going to be a run on Christmas ornaments in March???? I screamed to Brian about the score and he was unimpressed, fearful even. And that’s when I realized that I had officially turned into the year-round-Christmas-ornament-shopper that 27-year-old Emily would never have recognized or predicted. I’m ok with it. I LOVE it actually.
Pillows And Throws
You can go full-on with Christmas pillows, but I like mixing in 1-2 with just cozy “winter” pillows. I had these green cable knit pillows from last year (and tie in with the tree) then faux fur pillows that I already had, so I just bought this sweet ‘Merry’ pillow (the ‘fa la la’ one is Target, but from last year). I love that Hearth and Hand throw with the red stitching on the chair– it just feels sweet but keeps it quiet.
The floor pillow by the fireplace is super expensive but it is VERY VERY GOOD, here’s why: Most floor pillows aren’t big enough to really lounge on and this one is HUGE with cushy down fill, and made of a really pretty grey linen. It’s so comfortable and cushy, not too firm or bouncy. It’s made for meditation so it comes with a round pillow that is super heavy and feels like it’s full of beans which I rest my head on almost every day while snuggling here with the pups. Of course, they think it’s a dog bed, but I normally read here in the mornings on the weekends for a couple of hours and it’s just dreamy (and we can wash the cover. We used to have a big cozy alpaca over here, too, but the pups sent a clear message one day 1 of their life in this house that any fur would become a toilet for them.
I love it all with a few regrets – this tree wouldn’t fit in a tree collar, which I prefer (I don’t mind skirts, just love the look of collars). I wish the tree were slightly bigger, but it’s fine. I wish I had evenly placed the stockings (still might) and I wish I had put sparkly twinkly lights on the little potted faux trees on the hearth (and plan on doing so). I’ll put some batteries in the house stocking holders and call it a day. I also wish that our dogs would let us dress them in these matching pajamas more often.
What I love about it is how low maintenance it is, truly. By using faux everything, keeping it mostly neutral, and leaning into textures and sweet details, it feels holiday in such a pretty and dare I say sophisticated way.
In case you’d like to grab some of these decor pieces here’s the ‘Get The Look’:
1. Faux Tree (similar) | 2. Wood Snowflake Ornaments | 3. Wood Star Tree Topper | 4. Cable Knit Tree Skirt (similar) | 5. Wood Snowy Nordic House Ornaments | 6. Wooden Bauble Ornaments | 7. Wood Star Ornament | 8. Faux Candles Set | 9. LED Fairy Lights | 10. Faux Garland | 11. Red Tassel Pillow | 12. Green Cable Knit Pillow | 13. Tall White Nutcracker | 14. Wood Snowy Nordic Houses | 15. Faux Fur Blanket | 16. Faux Fur Pillow | 17. House Stocking Holder (similar)| 18. Red Pom Stocking | 19. Paper Trees | 20. ‘Merry’ Pillow | 21. Red Plaid Throw Blanket | 22. Santa Mug | 23. 2-Piece SedonaPillow Set | 24. 2ft Artificial Tabletop Christmas Glitter Tree (similar)
Now the family room on the other hand… what with our ‘no rules family tree’ has more Christmas action. Coming at you soon.
Would love to have a lively debate about faux greenery and candles in the comments, but you know where I stand – I’m PRO. That and my love of matching family Christmas pajamas (THE DOGS TOO) are truly big plot twist moments in the biopic of my life. 🙂
**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp