I take decorating for the holiday seriously (as shown in that very, “don’t mess with me and my holiday spirit” look on my face in the photo at the end of the post). Why, you might ask? Well, remember when I shamefully admitted to literally only having a bed (cough I mean mattress on the floor) in my apartment for the first five months of living here because someone (points at self) had some intense design paralysis? Sadly the holidays were within those five months and I decided I didn’t feel like decorating. That was a mistake. I could not get into the holiday spirit last year for the life of me and I ended up in a funk all of December. Yes, this sounds dramatic but it’s yet another example of the positive effect of home decor. It’s important. So when Emily asked if I would be interested in shooting some holiday content in my apartment, I jumped at the opportunity and ran to Target with the speed of a thousand reindeer. Please come on into my cozy, modern (fully decorated) holiday home. No Scrooges, Grinches or Oogie Boogies allowed. Please and thank you.
As you know, if you live in a small space, decorating on top of your year-round decor can be tricky because things can look crowded and crazy, fast. I originally was going to go super neutral with the color palette because neutral tones help keep the crazies away. However, I then very quickly fell hard for that almost Dr. Seuss-esque berry-colored sisal tree figurine at Target hiding at the end of my bench. I actually bought one before I even knew I was going to get to do this shoot. So neutral was out and I leaned into the saturated berries, blues (since I already had the blue velvet pouf) and golds.
HOT TIP: Changing out curtains (even a “door” curtain) may seem a dramatic choice but it’s really easy and impactful to bring in color.
Okay cool, color is fun BUT I wanted to be very conscious of the fact that I live in a small space and an explosion of colorful holiday decor was going to probably make me and any potential guests feel overwhelmed. Trust me, I know it’s tempting to full-blown cover your home in holiday happiness (heck, it only comes ’round once a year!). But especially when using bold colors, you want to make sure you are strategic.
HOT TIP: Pick your moments and make sure there is some visual neutral space between them (aka your eye feels like it can rest).
Woo wee, I did not appreciate the power of the faux candle until now. I was afraid at first it was going to be too much having that many but I was wrong. They make a place feel cozy and moody (the good kind) all without any fear something will catch on fire. True bliss if you ask me. HOT TIP: Ornaments aren’t just for trees. Use them on shelves and surfaces for a little holiday pop.
FUN FACT: There may be a ghost in my apartment because the first night I put them up there, I woke up in the morning and they had ALL fallen into my bed nook (behind that wall) around my head! There wasn’t an earthquake, it’s a decently deep ledge and they are NOT on the edge…which Ghost of Christmas was it, guys?!
Aside from my beloved berry and gold tree figurines, velvet ribbon was the big MVP this year. I used it in my entry and kitchen (which you will see this afternoon). It’s such an easy, visually impactful (is that my new favorite term??) way to add “holiday” in a modern way. I also wanted to really mix it up in the greenery department so I used all the different kinds I could get my hands on and strategically spaced them around the apartment. But in the entry, I made a little holiday greenery bouquet by throwing four different kinds together. My most successful floral arrangement yet! Historically, I not only have a black thumb but also a black eye? Well, that’s not right. Basically I have zero talent for floral arrangements. But maybe wreaths are my new thing…or not?? See below.
Welcome to my five-minute (or less) modern holiday wreath. When I first decided to make a “modern wreath” to add another holiday moment in my home I thought, “Hey, this is cute and easy. I think people will appreciate a very doable DIY.” But then we leaked the IGTV last week and now I know that A LOT of people have a problem with very minimal wreaths. There was a lot of love too but if you are equally offended then I am sorry but I still love her. I also love her because she is slender/visually light which is needed in a small space like mine. So if you are on team “minimal and harmless wreath DIY” then here is my little tutorial but you can also go to the IGTV if you are a visual learner like me. Plus, the comment section is nothing but hysterical.
What you need:
Gold hoop (they come in many sizes and you can get them online or in a craft store like Michael’s)
3, 4″ Pieces Green Floral Wire
Greenery branch (I used real cedar but this faux one from Target will last you forever)
Nail (to hang the hoop on) and hammer (to nail the nail into the wall)
1. Place the bottom end of the branch onto the hoop and wrap the first piece of wire around the hoop and greenery.
2. Continue to the center of the branch and repeat wire wrapping (leave out pieces for an organic look).
3. Finally, take the end of the branch and use the last piece of wire to wrap it to the hoop (again, leave out pieces for an organic look).
4. Hammer nail into the desired location and place hoop onto the nail.
5. Adjust hoop so your greenery is in the desired spot (I wanted mine more asymmetrical)
6. Lay cut ribbon over the bottom center of the wreath.
7. ENJOY your “hard” work. 🙂
Now let’s talk tree. I wouldn’t say I am an expert (maybe someday?) but I do understand some basic balance concepts of color and shapes. But first, let’s discuss the lights. I decided to go for it and use these battery-operated copper fairy lights. I used upwards of 11 strands (my skinny tree is around 5 ft tall) which may sound like a lot but they are on a timer. So as soon as I get home from work they turn on and last until I go to bed. It’s easy and I love how they look. For the ornaments, I had some from last year but then added in this awesome set which is where all of the berry and gold guys came from. After that, I mixed in the little wooden guys to ground the more glam ones and then for some shape variation I added in the icicles (they are from Wondershop but sadly they aren’t online).
Not that I was against it before but I now know the full benefits of the holiday pillow switch up. Guys, it helps make you feel like you really have a whole new space. I opted for a more, “Hey, I’m a holiday pillow but a cool nonconformist holiday pillow.” I kept two of my originals and added that berry beauty, two blue velvet guys and that awesome white knit one on the floor. That gold throw is also super soft and brings in such a pretty warmth.
HOT TIP: Large pillows (and a sheepskin) on the floor adds instant coziness and creates another soft seating area for your friends.
This side of the room was where I really had to pair back because there is already a lot going on without the added holiday love. So I took away some of my non-holiday decor pieces and added in all of my favorite trees. I am so sorry to report that the wooden garland is vintage Target and is no longer available. I would have bought more if I could! Aside from that, I made groupings and balanced the colors on either side of the bench and varied up those heights.
If you are wondering, “Why does Jess have two stockings?? Isn’t she still single??” You are correct. But one stocking felt weird and maybe sad? Or is it sadder I have two stockings? Who’s to say. It so doesn’t totally matter because I am going to be with my family for the holidays so Santa isn’t coming to my little apartment anyway. But I will say that Sara was basically the Santa of Styling for this shot and made things a bit cuter and warmer with a request for a string of lights and an added “nook forest.” She has learned much knowledge in her time at EHD and it shows because how cute is this shot?!
HOT TIP: Put fairy lights everywhere for maximum holiday warmth. Okay, not everywhere but shelves and large surfaces are nice spots to start.
I also wanted to figure out a way to add some “light holiday” to the gallery wall. I needed to chill on the ribbon front so I took a cedar branch and carefully placed it on that big frame and it didn’t fall. A total win.
HOT TIP: To keep your holiday decor modern but not sterile, mix cute, more “classic” Christmas items (like the sisal trees) with modern figurines like the wooden trees. And the one on the left is actually a kids’ stacking rings toy and only a kids’ stacking rings toy, people.
This was the face I was talking about. Serious is the name, Holiday Decor is the game. But also Arlyn and I were laughing at this photo and my team headshot because I am usually laughing (at myself) or making a dumb silly face. I hope you had a great time in my decked out holiday home or as my dad said when I sent him the photos, “kinda minimal huh?”…he wasn’t joking…
For all the decor here are the links in one place:
1. Red 23″ Bottle Brush Sisal Christmas Tree | 2. Solid Plush With Faux Fur Poms Throw Blanket | 3. Holiday Stocking with Poms | 4. Nailhead Stocking Holder | 5. 2pc White Bottle Brush Trees | 6. Gold 10.5″ Sisal Christmas Tree | 7. Swiss Dot Gift Wrap | 8. 50ct Wine and Champagne Christmas Ornament Set | 9. Oversized Velvet Pillow | 10. Christmas Nutcracker | 11. Red 16.5″ Sisal Christmas Tree | 12. Faux Fur Pelt Throw Blanket | 13. Velvet Mini Fringe Trim Square Throw Pillow | 14. Silver 4pc Bottle Brush Trees | 15. Wooden Ornaments | 16. Gold 16.5″ Sisal Christmas Tree | 17. Woven Chunky Check Throw Pillow | 18. LED Distressed Shimmer Flameless Pillar Candle | 19. Cable Knit Christmas Tree | 20. Velvet Curtain Panel | 21. Silver Jingle Bells | 22. Silver 2pc Bottle Brush Trees | 23. Crackling Wooden Wick Candle | 24. Red 10.5″ Sisal Christmas Tree | 25. Lumbar Velvet Pillow | 26. LED Distressed Shimmer Flameless Pillar Candle | 27. White 4pc Bottle Brush Trees
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see the kitchen reveal with all the small party hacks you could EVER want. JK, but I have a lot of helpful tips and an actually great game to play with close friends. See you then. 🙂
Love you, mean it.
***Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp, styling by me with help from the one and only Julie Rose