Ya’ll, I LOVE decorating for Christmas. There is nothing that makes my home happier than getting it all fancy for the holidays. I tend to change things up slightly every year, but this year I made the biggest change by taking out all red from my décor. No red for Christmas?! I know, I know…I promise I’m not anti-tradition. I just really wanted a cleaner color pallet this year, and I love the way it turned out. I had so many questions when I posted an image of my mantel that I decided to go into a little more detail as to how the overall design came to be.
Let me start by saying, “I am not a designer.” And again, a little louder for those in the cheap seats, “I AM NOT A DESIGNER.” I don’t know the “rules,” but I do know what I like. And since I’ve been asked a lot how I manage to come up with it, this is MY process. It might work for you, and maybe give you a little different perspective. So here goes…
HAVE AN OVERALL VISION IN MIND, BUT BE FLEXIBLE WITH THE INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS. I knew that I wanted neutral colors this year, and honestly, I went shopping just for new stockings. But things snowballed from there. I had my mind set on white cable knit stockings that were really slouchy. But there were none to be found at Hobby Lobby, and shopping all around for them was not a way I wanted to spend my five kid-free hours. So when I saw the grey ones, I knew the texture and shape was what I really wanted, and the neutral color would still work. And now that they’re up, I don’t think I would have liked the white ones as much.
HAVE A MAIN FOCAL (OR ANCHOR PIECE): I ordered this big “Merry Christmas” sign from Small Woods in July, and I actually forgot what it looked like until I opened the box in November. Luckily Christmas-in-July me and actual Christmas me were subconsciously communicating with each other because it works. This big sign draws your eye to the center of the mantle, then you see all the little details afterward. If I had a bunch of smaller elements on the wall, it would look too busy and distracting. Other options could be a wooden arch, window frame, or mirror. If I had gone with any of those, I would have hung a mixed eucalyptus wreath in front of it to give it some Christmas spirit. And you can use any of those all year round, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
To add interest, use other pieces of varying heights to draw your eye down from the anchor piece. That’s the role of the trees on each end. I struggle with this the most because I’m obsessed with symmetry. I have to constantly remind myself to use odd numbered pieces and that everything doesn’t need to be too matchy.
MOVE BEYOND THE SEASONAL SECTION. The wood bead hangers, which have gotten the most love from you guys and an equal amount from me, were actually not a holiday item at all. Since we were all getting matching stockings this year, I really wanted to distinguish them with initial ornaments. But the only ones at hobby lobby were bright green and red, so it was a “no” for me. I found these hanging on a side isle and just about squealed with delight because they were so perfect. The lambs ear garland is another example. This was just a regular garland from the floral department at about half the price. I intertwined it with a plain, pine garland to incorporate both the light and darker greens, and hung the extra one I had over the sign. I love the mossy, muted tones of lambs ear and eucalyptus, and since I already incorporate them in the everyday décor of my home, it made perfect sense to have them flow into the Christmas decorations.
INCORPORATE SOME SENTIMENT. Two things that are on our mantel year round are the angel that was Ryan’s grandmother’s and my mawmaw’s glasses. It makes me feel like our angels are protecting and watching over us. We miss those ladies both so much, and continuing to honor them during the holidays is so comforting. Commemorative photo ornaments would also be a great idea here.
GET CRAFTY. Sometimes you have something perfect in mind, and it just doesn’t exist…or at least not at a price you’re willing to pay. I saw lots of beautiful wooden initial ornaments online, but momma was not going to shell out $30 each for them. If I had not found the hanging beads for the stockings, my next plan was to paint some wood chip letters with a muted bronze paint and hang them with jute string. All for a grand total of about $10. Adding in touches of metallics to an otherwise neutral color pallet is the perfect way to add lots of interest. And what better time than Christmas to let your home sparkle? Textures are another way to do this. Wood, lace, knit, burlap. Even though they’re all neutral colored, the varying textures keep any of them from being washed out or boring. And you can cover just about anything in burlap. How cute would burlap gift boxes with lace ribbon be?!
What about the tree? I have to be completely honest when I tell you only about a quarter of my efforts went into our tree. I added a couple of beaded picks and lambs ear stems to tie into the mantel and nixed our red ball ornaments, but that’s about it. I used big white deco mesh to give that overall light feeling, but if I had my way, I would have gotten a brand new, flocked tree. Maybe next year… We have tons of sentimental and homemade ornaments, and getting to re-live those memories when we hang them is more important to me than a perfectly designed tree.
So there you have it. It might seem technical, but it really comes down to having a big idea, and letting all the pieces tie in from there. It also helps to do the slow shuffle through décor stores with a hot coffee singing Christmas carols with all the other wide-eyed mommas.