J’adore Holiday Decor

I was glad to have a house to decorate this year for Christmas.  The only thing is that I forgot how much work is involved.  Not that I’m complaining! There is nothing that warms my heart more than a house adorned with greenery, poinsettias, candles and shiny things.  Top it off with a Frasier Fir or Holiday Bayberry candle, and I might just explode with joy!

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I took advantage of having family in town the weekend after Thanksgiving to get the tree put up.  We selected a mighty fine-looking (and smelling) Frasier Fir.  Thank goodness my dear sister Eugene has herculean strength and could lift the tree to an upright position as my dad secured it in the stand.

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The tree had a beautiful shape with impressive uniformity…

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…except for this one little branch here in the back that stuck out like a tail.  It cracked me up so I left it there.  Who wants a tree without a little bit of character?  If I had it my way (and by my way, I mean if I won the lottery and could justify spending 4 figures on live greenery), I would have one of those miniature, spindly, misshapen Charlie Brown trees in every room because I think they are hysterical and precious. Fortunately for anyone who comes to my house, my holiday decor fund has a limit.

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AFTER my dad and I had strung the lights on the tree, I realized that my transition from the LED lights purchased last year for my tree that was half the size of this one to the new incandescent lights that I purchased this year to bridge the gap was not so smooth.

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See the annoying blur of the white LED lights against the soft, warm glow of the smaller incandescent lights? I could not stand the sight of it so yours truly went out the next day to get some more of the 200 light strands of acceptable Christmas tree lights.  When I got to Walgreens, where they were running a 2 for 1 special, I noticed that this location had 300 light strands for the same price as the 200 light strands.  So instead of buying 2 more 200 lights strands, I bought 2 300 light strands, thinking I could get away with adding just 1 300 light strand to my existing 200 and then keep the “free” 300 light strand for another purpose.  Perhaps for an unsuspecting shrub.

I got home and took the wretched LEDs off the top 2/3 of the tree and began stringing the regular, lovely, perfect, warm lights from the top.  All was going swimmingly until I reached the point where I needed to connect the 300 light strand to the 200 light strand.  I would like to tell you that these are the EXACT SAME LIGHTS FROM THE EXACT SAME MANUFACTURER.  I held up the 3 prong connector of the 300 light strand ready to plug it into the receptacle of the 200 light strand only to discover that the 200 light strand’s receptacle had only 2 holes.  JOY TO THE WORLD!

After contemplating poking my eyes out with the 3 prong connector so I couldn’t see the darn lights on the tree anyway, I collected myself and began taking the 200 light strand off the BOTTOM 1/3 of the tree so that I could make unexpected use of that additional “free” 300 light strand.  I was concerned that my math wouldn’t work out and the lights would be too dense at the bottom of the tree, but the result was passable for my OCD self.

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I was pleased with the end result, even though my camera doesn’t pick up the delicate glow of the lights very well in low-lighting.

As if that wasn’t enough light-enduced drama for one year, I decided to put electric candles in the windows.  All 44 of them.  I thought I might get crafty and use the battery operated LED lights (did I learn nothing from the tree episode?) to save (cause) myself some trouble.  I put one in the window and didn’t really like the looks of it.  It was too white and kind of dull.  To see if I was imagining this, I put a plug-in incandescent candle next to it in the window and went out in the yard to compare the two from a distance.  NO COMPARISON.  I really wanted to like the LEDs for their energy savings and convenience; however, there might as well have been no candle in the window if I had opted for this route.  It was pitiful, really, next to the arc of warm light radiating from the incandescent.  More work for me, but I knew it would be worth it.  4 hours, 2 trips to the hardware store, and 16 extension cords later, it was totally worth it.  I promise.  It’s really a crime that I couldn’t get a good picture of it for you.  I haven’t mastered night photography yet.  Or day photography.

After all of that electrical excitement, I moved on to a few more basic decorating assignments: the front hall, the front door, the porch, the mantle, and the kitchen island.

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The nice man at the farmers’ market gave us a good deal on this Frasier Fur wreath.  I found some of that wide, mesh-like ribbon at Hobby Lobby and finished it off with a big ol’ bow.

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I also stumbled upon some large faux wreaths at 50% off so I got 2 of those for the large windows on the porch.  They got bows, too.  Please disregard the expired mums that I had yet to remove as of the date this photo was taken.  Please do note the snow on the roof!  Too bad this wasn’t Christmas Day.

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My dad had to trim a low-hanging branch off the tree to fit it into the tree stand, so I used that to fill out the mantle.  My gold pears from Pier 1 a few years back gave the mantle a nice, rhythmic touch.  First, I prepped the mantle with some saran wrap to keep the sap from creating a hot mess on the woodwork.

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The final step was the stockings, which took a little bit of time and imagination.  You see, I had found the most perfect faux fur tree skirt and pair of stockings at Homegoods.  The only problem is that there are 4 people in my family, not 2.  I called all of the surrounding TJ Maxx/Homegoods locations and non of them had more of these treasures.  I had to get creative and settle on an eclectic look with the addition of another type of fur stocking and a fabulous sequined one, which I made my dad’s.  He was confused and probably a little disturbed by this.  It made me laugh.

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On the topic of confused and disturbed, for my holiday arrangements in the kitchen and foyer, I spray-painted some branches gold.  But not just any branches.  Branches that came from 12 foot tree limbs that fell during an intense wind storm we had here in Nashville on Halloween. I drug these branches out of the yard and into my garage.  I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy.  You’d be amazed by what a little metallic gold spray paint and a small hand saw can do.

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When it comes to holiday decorations, I think simple and natural is best…

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…until I have to take it all down.

Covered in pine needles,

Sugarlump

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The Sunshine Award

Thank you to Elisa Cashiola at http://elisacashiola.com/ for nominating me for the Sunshine Award! I am just tickled. 🙂  As a designer myself, I have a great appreciation for what you do and share. Your posts offer wonderful lessons on making … Continue reading

Apartment Update

I have been working hard to make my apartment feel like home since I moved in almost 4 weeks ago.  I brought with me most of my major furniture so I’m just missing the smaller accent pieces like a coffee table and an end table.

And barstools for my desk so I have a real place to eat a meal instead of on the sofa.

And an armoire for my bedroom, but that may take me a while to find just the one and, thanks to my closet handywork, it’s not critical.

Here’s a peak at the situation:

Currently, I have a pair of lovely storage bins from Walmart acting as my coffee table.  It’s a great look, don’t you think?

I think the label really sets it off.

And here is my end table.  Who knew that not only were the pots and pans useful, but also that the box they come in is the ideal end table height when turned up sideways?

This may start a trend.  I think it will be called “makeshift chic.”

While it may be a while before I upgrade my “tables,” I have been making considerable progress on the dreadful, soul-sucking white walls that come standard in my apartment complex.

I painted my kitchen and my bedroom in the past 24 hours and I painted my bathroom last week.  (I will post pictures once I get everything accessorized.)

My cats were super helpful with the painting.

Not.

They slept all day in the sun.

Can I be a cat?

The room in which they spent their leisurely afternoon is giving me some heartburn.  Not only does it have the makeshift tables and a chairless desk/dining table, but it also has lots of different walls that catch light very differently.  This is making it difficult to find a color that looks good on all of the walls throughout the day.

By the time I decide which color to go with, the walls will probably be covered in paint swatches, I will have taken out a loan for paint and it will probably be time to move.

I think I am up to 8 colors so far and they all are either too gray, too yellow, too green, too light or too dark. I’m seriously considering mixing some of them together to get my ideal color and then taking it to the paint store and having them color match it.

This is my “dining” area that houses my enormous desk and will also serve as a place to eat once I get some barstools…

So this is how all of the colors look on this wall.

This is the space between the living and dining areas on the window wall, which is perpendicular to the wall with the desk.  It is the darkest wall.

This is the wall opposite the desk wall on the other side of the rectangular room, behind my sofa.

I swear, these are all the same color swatches on each wall even though they look quite different.

Turning another 90 degrees, this wall is opposite the main window wall and thus receives the most natural light.  This is where we see the true colors.

Doesn’t that white make you want to cry? It does me.

And these are two more walls that form a bar-height counter around my kitchen.  That little bit of chair rail on the right is part of the desk wall.

Congratulations, we have just completed a 360 degree turn around the room.

There are actually 3 other walls that will also be the same color in my entry way, however trying to add them into the mix for consideration might just send me over the edge.

It’s a miracle that I can get dressed in the morning.

So you see, I have a lot of walls to consider and the lighting is kind of drastic, not only from one wall to the next, but throughout the course of the day since my apartment is South-facing.

These pictures make the colors look a little bit greener than they actually are, but if anyone wants to vote, please feel free to leave a comment.  (I don’t know how you will possibly describe to me which color it is since they are painted haphazardly and differently on each wall, but it’s worth a shot.)

You would think this would be easy for me since I’m a designer.  While I know exactly what to suggest for clients, it’s really hard to do my own place.  Please send help.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump