Christmas decorating and a few of my favorite things

One of the things I like most about Christmas decorating is pulling out all the “special” decorations. They might not be the prettiest or coordinate with my homes colors but they are ones that are full of family history and have the most meaning. Now that my Christmas decorating is finished, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things.

My vintage Santa cookie jar, inherited from my mother in law, sits on the kitchen table and stands guard over the trays of Christmas treats.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

My grandmother’s champagne glasses are all ready for the Christmas Eve toast. They don’t hold a lot of champagne so the bottle is always nearby!

Linda Holt photo

Linda Holt photo

Our tree may not be magazine worthy or even blog worthy but every single ornament has some kind of special significance. It was either given as a gift, purchased while on vacation or hand made by the boys when they were little.

Christmas tree

This plastic Santa ornament has been on my Christmas tree for as long as I can remember. It was one of only two ornaments I asked to take with me when I got married.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

This paper origami whale has survived unscathed since 1991. It was made by a good friend of mine from photography school. Thanks Jill!

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Phot0

We’ve always loved this Star of David ornament, made by my now 27 year old when he was in the 1st grade. I guess it was the schools attempt at sending home a politically correct Christmas ornament.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

It must not have gone over too big because just 3 years later when my younger son was in the same class there were no more Christmas ornaments.

The angel at the top is over 30 years old. My husband and I bought her for our first Christmas when “Country” was really big.  I know she is really dated and every year I am tempted to retire her but I always end up giving her another year. For some reason my husband seems to be most fond of her.

What do you think, should I keep her going or replace her with something more my style?

My Christmas table is set and for the first time in a long, long time I went with a traditional red, green and white color palette.

Linda Holt Photo

The bottle brush trees and little figurines were part of a big snow village that I remember from my early childhood. My mom stopped setting it up by the time I was a teenager and after she passed away these few trees and figures were all that I could find of it. My favorite is the little skater and the glass “pond”.

bottle brush Christmas trees

Linda Holt Photo

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

My Shocking Christmas Confession with Photos!

Several years back when I was still working full time as a photographer I used to have the most beautifully decorated house at Christmas. My photography business slowed down right after Thanksgiving and I had a full month to decorate, shop, wrap, and bake. I would spend hours at the kitchen table creating Martha Stewart inspired Christmas crafts and searching through my cookbooks to bake complicated and jaw dropping sugar creations. One year I made 10 fresh cranberry Christmas trees to give as teacher’s gifts. I can still remember my finger pain from pushing all those pins through hundreds of fresh cranberries.

cranberry tree

Now that I make my living as a decorator I am so busy this time of the year with clients that I have no time to decorate my own home. We did get the tree up but as far as shopping, wrapping, baking and decorating…to say I am behind is an understatement. As a blogger however, I feel huge pressure to show you photos of my spectacularly decorated tree and my perfectly decorated home. In fact, for the very first time in my entire adult life I have a shocking confession… My house is not decorated!

Yup, less than a week away from the big day and not a sprig of holly in sight.  So to take pressure off  myself and maybe help some of you feel less guilty if you too are in a similar “undecorated” situation I am going to bare my soul and show you what my house REALLY looks like.

My kitchen table that I wished looked like this:

christmas table

Home DIT

actually looks like this….covered with grocery bags and a wet paint chair on top.

orange chair

You see, I am in the middle of painting two kitchen chairs for a client that will be delivered on Friday.

My dinning table that I would love to have look like this

martha stewart table

Martha Stewart Christmas

actually looks like this

Really bad…I know. This mess is actually caused by my son who has just launched a new Boston food delivery service. He and his business partners have been working 18-20 hour days and splitting their time between crashing at the office and working on the website at my dining room table.

Our presents under our Christmas tree which should look like this

actually look like this

Totally embarrassing I know…so as you can see…I have some work ahead of me. My last client appointment is this coming Saturday so you can only imagine what I will be doing Sunday and Monday….or not.

I did have to laugh though as my poor husband in an attempt to help decorate, did this on our deck chair with the left over branches cut off the Christmas tree.

I haven’t had a chance to ask him but I’m wondering if he saw this image on my Pinterest board? Actually, I doubt he even knows what Pinterest is.

I hope you don’t judge me and I hope you got a laugh over my shocking Christmas confession. (In full disclosure I do plan on taking the presents out of the Amazon boxes and wrapping them)

Next year I vow to have a beautifully decorated house…with photos…I promise!

So are you done with your decorating? Anyone in the same situation as me? I would love to hear.

Five Minute Thanksgiving Decorating

These past few weeks have been a complete blur for me. I am working with a wonderful new client who is moving into a new home and by choice has decided to start from scratch. He is bringing absolutely nothing with him other than his clothes…seriously… nada…not even a fork and spoon. Oh, and to make things a little interesting he closed two weeks ago today on his new house and left two days later for Asia and asked if everything could be finished when he got back…. which is tonight…. HAHAHAHA… really?

Well fast forward two weeks and no, the house is not done but things are coming together really nicely. I still have a way to go and I can’t wait to share photos once everything is in place.

The point is I have had no free time (hence my first blog post in 3 weeks) to decorate my home for Fall.  I do realize Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday so I need some super easy, super fast Fall decorating ideas that take five minutes or less. I want to share my finds…just in case some of you are pressed for time as well.

Now in the North East it is too late to decorate with colorful leaves but if you do have any left in your yard this is always a super easy and quick solution as you can never go wrong by bringing nature into your home.

No leaves? I love this look of bare branches in a tall vase. Make it tall and make it a statement.

If you live in the city and branches are scarce, glass vases or jars filled with Fall colored seeds, corn or other Organics and topped with a candle (silk leaf optional) will bring a Fall feel into your home.

A simple pre-made Fall flower bouquet from the super market accented with acorns and dried lentils will look great on my kitchen island.

Bittersweet is another Fall favorite and either it grows wild where you live or not. We have it all over our neighborhood so five minutes of clipping and I have a quick and easy way to add color to my Thanksgiving table or mantle.

An all white Thanksgiving table looks so beautiful with white dishes and table cloth, white pumpkins (real or not) and chunky white pillar candles…super easy, super fast.

white thanksgiving table

lauracaseyinteriors.com

and if  this coming week turns into another 3 days of 12-15 hour work days and I wake up on Thursday morning with nothing done and no time to do it…my fall back is a bag of candy corn still unopened from Halloween.

candy corn

brightboldbeautiful.com

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

How about you..do you love taking the time to decorate for the holidays? Do you have any quick 5 minute ideas to share?

If you would like help decorating your home or choosing color (after Thanksgiving) give me a call!

 

 

 

The Not So Merry Truth about Decorating for the Holidays

Wow, Dec. 16th. I know it is a cliche but where did the time go?   Well I don’t know about you but December for me is always  SO busy. When it comes to blogging, I haven’t even found the time to read my favorite blogger’s posts never mind write a post.  Something happened earlier this week though that compelled me to write.  I was at a client’s home and she apologized that her Christmas tree sat naked and unadorned in in the corner of the family room.  This client works a full time job, has two young children, 2 dogs, a large house and a husband who travels extensively for work. Apologize?? For what?? For not staying up until 3am every night in December to get all the decorating, cleaning, shopping, card writing, wrapping, baking, and Ho Ho Ho-ing accomplished?

Okay, let’s just talk about one of these chores: holiday decorating. If you are a blog reader like me, you have seen so many beautifully decorated interiors over the past few weeks. Designers, and bloggers have opened up their home and shown all the creative, beautifully styled, beautifully photographed, holiday decor filling their home.  They make it seem effortless and “the norm”  which makes some of us feel the need to apologize when the tree sits undecorated 1 week before Christmas. You do not need to apologize. Let me tell you the not so merry truth about holiday decorating…IT TAKES TIME…LOTS OF TIME.

Take for example  Tobi Fairley’s incredible beautiful holiday playroom.

 

Tobi Fairley's Playroom

Now Tobi is one busy gal. Do you think she actually did this one evening when she got home from a long day at work? Absolutely not. Recently while attending Tobi’s fabulous Design Camp, she shared with us that to accomplish her holiday decorating she has a staff of designers that spend days upon days decorating and then a professional photographer who spends days more photographing.

I recently attended a holiday decorating talk by my friend Monique of  Monx’s Design House. Monique is a professional event planner so she knows how long it takes to decorate down to the minute. She shared with us that her own holiday party for 30 guests takes 80 hours. That’s planing time, prep time, and decorating time. 80 hours! It got me thinking, so this year I decided to track how long it took me to decorate just a few areas of my own home. Here is the not so merry truth and why I haven’t found the time to blog.

 Wreath for front door:  1 hour 5 minutes.

 

Linda Holt Photo

10 mins. picking out wreath: 15 min. standing in line to pay for wreath. 40 minutes decorating wreath and another 30 minutes looking for wreath hook . (okay, I know that is my fault so I am not even going to count that).

Christmas tree: 4 hours,42 minutes.

 

 

Picking out “the one” :30 minutes. standing in same 15 minute line as with wreath. 12  minutes putting tree in stand and bringing into house (luckily I knew right where the stand was). Putting lights on tree: This is my husband’s job and he spent 4 hours stringing the lights while watching the Patriots game on TV. Okay there was some non productive time here like eating, drinking beer and yelling at the TV so let’s say 2 hours total on this. Putting the ornaments on tree 2 hours.

 

Entrance way:  3 hours.

Linda Holt Photo

 

Time was spent polishing the silver candle sticks, decorating the little silver bowls, and hanging the ornaments from the overhead chandelier.

 

Detail of the silver bowls

Linda Holt

 

Dining Table: 3.5 hours

 

Linda Holt


Time included polishing silver candle sticks, ironing the table cloth, stringing up the hanging ornaments, setting the table  (no glassware yet as that was all in dishwasher) and decorating the little tree in the corner.

 

Linda Holt

 

Summing it all up; putting a wreath on the front door, decorating the entrance way, decorating the tree and setting the table took a total of 12 hours and 17 minutes. Sounds crazy huh? I also decorated the living room, the kitchen and the mantle. I didn’t keep track of that time but I am sure it was at least another 4-5 hours.

So please be kind to yourself if your tree is still undecorated, the gifts are not wrapped (or bought as in my case) and you feel unprepared. It all takes time…lot’s and lot’s of time.

 

If any of you have actually found the time to read this post… How many hours  do you think your decorating took?

 

Lastly,  be sure to visit my Face Book page at  www.facebook.com/NewLightRedesign. I am posting a single photo a day  for 31 days of holiday inspiration and “eye candy”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and After Photos and Lessons Learned From My First Show House

This past Saturday I participated in decorating a kitchen, Great Room, and Mud Room for a FALL Holiday Home Tour. Although exhausting, it was a great experience and I learned so much about the whole process. This tour was challenging because as I wrote about here, the homes on the tour were all occupied by families who only vacated minutes before the tour started. Two valuable lessons I learned were:

#1. No matter how small the decorating job seems, it will take WAY LONGER than anticipated. It took over 7 hours to set up, even though I thought it would take only a couple of hours.

#2. Things will not go as planned. We assumed our occupied home would be empty the few hours before the tour started but when we arrived with fresh flowers and last minute details to do, the Mom was cooking breakfast, Dad was vacuming and 3 young kids were under foot asking all sorts of questions. I had also planed to take good quality “After” photos but there was absolutely no time so the photos that follow are quick snap shots from my point and shoot camera.

 

Kitchen Before

 

 

Kitchen After

 

My color inspiration was a Lavender, Blue and Orange Pashmina used as a table runner. Three pieces of original art work by my friend  Susan Siefer of MadPatter Art Design  were hung above the table with the same colors.

Here are a few more views of the table.

Table Setting

 

I made the flowered pumpkins from a photo I had seen on Pinterest (it took 6 Mum plants to cover the two pumpkins). I found the bird’s nest in my back yard, and all the colorful vegetable dishes I own. (My challenge to myself was to spend under $100  on this  project). Although you can’t really see in the photo, the “eggs” in the bird’s nest are tiny pumpkins. I also painted some pumpkins in the same colors as the art work and you can just see a peak of  two of them on the window sill.

 

 

I also added a few natural elements to the chandelier.

Purple, and Orange Seed Pods with Bittersweat

 

The kitchen also had a bar area that needed a little something.

Bar Area Before

 

 

I added a pumpkin ice bucket…an idea I saw in Country Home and some more decorative plates and napkins.

Bar Area After

 

The Great Room Before.

 

Great Room Before

 

The home owners asked that I not touch the book shelves or candles on the mantel which are actually electric and wired in. I placed  a wicker tray and a few gourds and books on the Ottoman and used more of  Susan’s art work above the mantle and added a tall vase of fresh pumpkin flowers. I also added some sprigs of Red leaves in test tube vases under the TV.

Family Room After

 

During the tour there was a fire burning in the fireplace but of course I didn’t get a photo of that but the room really did feel cozy.

 

Change of View Art Work

The 4  paintings by  Susan are from her Change of View series. The paintings themselves peal right off the  canvases and can be changed out with any number of different colors or designs. I think it is brilliant and you should check out her Etsy Store if you want to see more.

The tour visitors exited through the Mud Room and this was the room that took the most time and work. Susan and I have started a side business of  hand painting furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Our business is called Chalk It Up! and the mud room is where we displayed some of our pieces.

(We are in the process of setting up a Face Book Business page where we will be offering items for sale.)

Here is how the mud room looked before.

Mud Room

 

And this is how we styled it up for the tour.

Chalk It Up! hand Painted Pieces

 

 

Now that it is all over I have a whole new appreciation for how much work and time goes into organizing and participating in a show house.  I would love to hear your comments and feed back.

 

 

If you would like help with choosing Color, Staging or Interior decorating, please give me a call.

Holiday Home Tour sneak peak

This coming Saturday I will be participating in my very first Designer House Tour. Ten beautiful homes in my town will open their doors to the public for the day in order to raise money for the schools. Since most  (if not all) of the homes on the tour, have already been professional decorated the participating designers were simply asked to add a layer of holiday entertaining decor. The Tour is called “Entertaining in Style” and each designer was assigned a room (or two) and asked to decorate in either a Fall, Thanksgiving or Christmas theme.

The challenge in decorating for this Holiday Tour is that all the homes are occupied. The home I was asked to decorate is home to a very active family with 3 young kids and a dog. The designers were asked to go in early Saturday morning, set up everything and then be done by 11am when the tour starts…..okay, this made me a little nervous. I kept imagining the tour organizer standing outside with a big bull horn yelling “designers you have 15 minutes…5 minutes…1 minute…designers…STOP decorating. Lucky for me, my homeowner has graciously offered to let us come in on Friday to drop things off.

So, back to my rooms.  I  decided to do a little twist on the traditional Red, Yellow, and Orange  Fall color scheme and instead I am using Lavender, Blue and Orange. I took my color inspiration from a beautiful Pashmina that was a gift from a friend who’s brother brought it back after a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Here is a photo of it.

 

Lavender, Blue and Orange Pashmina

 

And here is a sneak peak of some of the things I will be using to decorate the kitchen table.

 

See all that color?  I know it looks like a huge mess right now but this is just the initial stage as I pull things together and decide what works and what doesn’t.

Lucky for me, I also talked my Artist friend Susan of Mad Patter Art Design into  doing the art work  for both the kitchen and great room. Here is a photo of 3 of Susan’s pieces that will be in the kitchen. They are almost a perfect match to the colors in the Pashmina.

 

Susan's Art work

 

Lastly, Susan and I have been painting up some furniture in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that will also be showcased in the home. I know my husband will be very glad when the House Tour is over because our dinning room is a mess but the hallway is even worse. Here is how it looked yesterday while we were finishing up painting the final pieces.

 

A few of the Chalk Painted furniture pieces

 

If you live in the area I hope you’ll  stop by and say hello.  If not, I’ll post photos from the house next week.

 

If you would like help with choosing the perfect color, Staging or Design, give me a call.

Halloween Yard Art- Country Style

It’s still October and crazy as it seems, the North East has just gone through the first major snow storm of the season.  Just like thousands of others, we lost power, so this is my first post written by way of a generator. Gotta love living in the Country!

Since tomorrow is Halloween I want to share a few of my favorite local Halloween Yard Art. Besides being different and creative all three homeowners get big kudos for not using a single plastic or inflatable pumpkin, ghost or witch.

 

Scary Horseman

 

Standing about 13 feet tall, this skeleton on his three headed horse is positioned just around a bend on a dark winding country road. I met the homeowner while taking this photo and she told me the police have been called twice by passing motorists, who while driving home in the dark, were so startled they complained they almost had a car accident. (Her neighbor told her she should keep it up all year to slow down the cars).

 

Scarecrow Ghouls

 

These three ghouls are in a big field and are lit up at night with spot lights…very spooky!

 

Two witches stirring up a pot of brew

This one is my favorite. My friend’s Step Dad made this. He owns a construction company and for every  Season/Holiday he creates a different yard art… always using tires. He is so creative and never seems to run out of ideas for new displays. This was last years Halloween display.

 

2010 Halloween

 

And here is the year before that

 

2009 Halloween Tire Art

 

I don’t know if everyone else in town looks as forward to his new creations as I do but with Halloween tomorrow I know it is only a matter of weeks before I see something like this.

 

 

 

2010 Christmas Tire Art

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!

 

 

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