History and tradition are a big part of how this homeowner decorates for the season. Credits: Robin Stubbert; Styling by Tara Ballantyne
History and tradition are a big part of how this homeowner decorates – and they’re key to how her family celebrates the holidays, too.
It goes without saying that the most memorable family holidays are steeped in nostalgia – blending traditions from past generations with new ones – but they become all the more meaningful when the home itself already has stories to tell. That’s the case in the southern Ontario home Jennifer Jarmuszewski shares with her husband, Colin Todd, and two children, Julia, 9, and Benjamin, 7. The entryway and formal living and dining rooms of their 3,500-square-foot new-build house are decorated in a classic holiday style that perfectly complements the home’s elegant interior, accentuating the art and antiques Jennifer has been collecting most of her life.
To pull together the everyday design of the home and marry her traditional taste with the needs of a young family, Jennifer sought the help of designer Alison Habermehl of Habermehl Design Group. “Luckily I came on board early in the building stage, so we were able to customize the design,” says Alison. “We raised the main-floor doorways and added transoms over them, as well as selected finishes that better suited Jennifer’s style.” The addition of applied mouldings to the entryway and dining room, for example, gives the home architectural distinction, while glass door knobs used throughout are small details that create luxe sparkle.
When it came time to select furnishings, a lot of inspiration was pulled from Jennifer’s belongings. “She has many fine collections,” says Alison, referring to the antique chairs, bird and Staffordshire dog figurines, as well as antique boxes.“To make them all work within the traditional and sophisticated design scheme, I kept like pieces together to avoid a look that’s too precious or cluttered.”
One collection even inspired the dining room’s colour scheme, which matches Jennifer’s treasury of Flow Blue dinnerware (blurred blue and white transferware popular in the 19th century). “I can perfectly remember buying one of the dishes while visiting my grandmother,” says Jennifer. “So many of my pieces are tied to specific memories.”
The blue theme that started with the dinnerware carries through to holiday time. Vibrant blue dishes get layered onto the dinner table alongside beloved Waterford crystal and Wedgwood china. “It’s so lovely to see beautiful crystal and china getting used in a young family home,” says Alison. The tablescape is amplified with green and metallic accents to keep the look modern. Fresh greenery set in one of Jennifer’s antique bowls serves as a striking non-traditional centrepiece, matching the simple evergreen accents elsewhere – an effective way to bring Christmas cheer (and glorious aromas) into the home.
Of course, the same could be said for the Christmas tree, which glitters with blue and silver ornaments that share space with treasured kid-crafted trinkets. “The ones created by my children are my favourites,” says Jennifer. “They’re so fun to pull out every year as the kids get older. They love looking back at what they’ve made.” It’s just another example of how Jennifer’s stunning collections are rooted in time-honoured traditions the whole family will cherish for many Christmases to come.
Homeowner Jennifer Jarmuszewski’s prized collection of rare antique blue transferware – the inspiration for the dining room’s moody blue colour scheme – is prominently displayed in a custom-built hutch with a fresh green-painted interior that makes the plates pop. Simple evergreen wreaths and sprigs on the table add a refined holiday touch to the ultra-elegant space.
Helping decorate the tree is a holiday ritual that Jennifer’s kids, Julia and Benjamin Jarmuszewski, cherish. Glittery blue and silver ornaments mingle with avian-themed ones (inspired by the settee’s bird-print fabric) and, of course, kid-made treasures. But a family favourite is a hinged box ornament with the words “Christmas Wishes” on it. “Before we hang it, we each add a written wish for the coming year,” says Jennifer.
This spot in the dining room was too small for a sideboard, so an antique dresser was used instead. It serves as an ersatz bar, which is convenient for topping up drinks at dinner.
Though they’re newer pieces, the ornate concrete console and architectural reclaimed wood mirror lend the entryway an old-world look that suits the home’s elegance. The voluminous magnolia-leaf garland offers a luxe touch for the holidays.
Jennifer’s Flow Blue dishware – coveted antique transferware with blurred blue and white motifs – makes an eclectic tablescape when mixed with more contemporary gold-detailed plates and green scalloped ones. Adorned with name tags secured to pretty mercury-glass ornaments, each place setting offers a memento guests can take home.
The living room’s slender, curvaceous settee is offset by the geometric gallery wall of small engraved wood artwork grouped above – another example of Jennifer’s passion for collecting. Every time she makes the trip to Stratford, Ont., she can’t resist popping into artist Gerard Brender à Brandis’s studio to purchase another piece to add to the display.
Learn how to use everyday materials to create playful winter decorations.
Pull out the string, tape, paper and scissors – with a little creativity, these everyday materials can be transformed into decorations that bring to life a whimsical winter wonderland.
1 Wallpaper: Craft your very own snowfall with these pretty avant-garde snowflakes made by accordion-folding white craft paper into pinwheels and snipping with scissors. Add in one or two bold-hued pinwheels for impact.
2 Wrap stars: A tableau of gifts dressed up in white wrapping will lend an ethereal effect both under your tree and around your home. And don’t skimp on the ribbon – let it trail delicately from the presents in long sweeping curls.
3 Advent honours: Forget brown paper pack- ages – these sweet gift bags embellished with paper cut-outs and “sewn” up with string make a fun Advent calendar. Numbered paper hearts on the ends of the ties indicate the days.
4 Bow beautiful: Rethink the ubiquitous holiday bows this year by making your own signature snowflake gift adornments using white craft paper and scissors. Use contrasting string to attach these beauties to your parcels.
5 Liner notes: Who knew simple white paper muffin tin liners could create such pretty towering trees? Stack them in different sizes and heights for a veritable frost-kissed forest.
6 Branching out: Paper roses have nothing on these fragile flowers made from twists of white tissue. Easy to make and elegant to behold, this simple arrangement is a pure nod to winter.
7 Ball game: Few things are as satisfying as decking your halls with homemade ornaments. These delicate spheres are a cinch to make with strips of craft paper and string. Display them on your table, tree or mantel, or send them off with visitors as take-home treats after a holiday soiree.
8 Clever covers: Dinner guests will love these adorable covers made by cutting patterns into accordion-folded lengths of paper and securing them around drinking glasses with tree candle clips.
9 Snowy settings: Create the perfect holiday table covering by cutting snowflake patterns into a white paper runner. Continue the effect: Use similar stencils to powder the festive treats you serve.
Photography courtesy of Andreas Hoernisch/Living4Media
How to clean your oven
Everything you need to know about getting this in-demand appliance clean – and keeping it that way.
The holidays are a busy time for your oven, whether you’re making a turkey, gingerbread cookies, salt-dough ornaments or all of the above. Winning results require a clean appliance, as built-up grime can affect foods’ flavour or, worse, lead to fires. Repeated heat will burn spills and splatters in place, so make a habit of wiping them after each use, once the oven has totally cooled (a sprinkle of salt will loosen the mess while the appliance is cooling). For a deep clean , make a paste by adding water to baking soda, and apply it generously to the oven’s interior using a clean cloth; leave overnight. Wipe the surface using a damp cloth and scrape off large stuck-on bits with a spatula. If any grime remains, generously spray on white vinegar – it will react with the baking soda to work the dirt off – and wipe clean.
KNOW YOUR OVEN
Get to know your oven’s built-in cleaning function (or lack thereof) before getting started.
Self-cleaning: In an isolated cycle, extreme heat turns grime into ash to be wiped off with a damp cloth. Racks must be removed (and cleaned separately); commercial cleaners are prohibited.
Continuous cleaning: A chemical coating on the walls dissolves splatters during cooking. Avoid commercial cleaners (they may strip off the coating).
None: It can handle both homemade and commercial cleaning solutions.
Your oven racks work hard and, every so often, they could use a bubble bath – literally. Start by lining your bathtub with old towels to protect it. Place the racks on top and submerge them in hot water; mix in several generous squirts of dish soap. Let stand overnight to loosen dirt before wiping clean with a soft sponge.
Behind closed doors
Grease-carrying steam can get in between the door’s interior and exterior glass panes. Cleaning this requires taking the door apart, so check your warranty to see if this service is covered or call in a pro.
Expert tip: “Keep a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven to catch spillage. Then simply remove, clean and replace it.” -Natalia Bronstein, Team Leader, Aspenclean.
Dos and Don'ts:
Do: Be patient. Allowing cleaning solutions to sit for the full recommended length of time will minimize your scrubbing effort.
Don't: Get any water or cleaning solution on the door gasket, as it damages easily.
Make this twist on traditional lasagne with this recipe from Elana Karp and Suzanne Dumaine's new cookbook Plated.
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2 On a baking sheet, toss the mushrooms and squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and salt and pepper.
3 Arrange in a single layer and roast until tender, about 18 minutes.
4 While the vegetables roast, strip the stems from the kale leaves, then cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the garlic. In a large pan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the kale and garlic and cook until the kale is wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
5 Remove the roasted mushrooms and squash from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Using a fork or spoon, mash the squash.
6 To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is foamy, sprinkle in the flour and whisk until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously, until no lumps remain. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, stirring to combine; remove the pot from the heat.
7 Spread a thin layer of the béchamel sauce over the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Add a layer of the lasagna noodles, followed by a layer of squash and mushrooms, the kale, more sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Repeat to make 2 more layers: noodles, vegetables, sauce and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the Gruyère.
8 Loosely cover the dish with foil, transfer to the oven and bake until the lasagna is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
9 Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.
10 Uncover the lasagna and continue baking until golden, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces. Wrap with foil and store in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, microwave the lasagna or warm it, covered, in the oven at 350°F.
Excerpted from Plated by Elana Karp & Suzanne Dumaine. Recipes Copyright © 2016 Elana Karp & Suzanne Dumaine, Photography copyright © 2016 Robert Bredvad. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter/Publishers. All rights reserved.