House tour: Timeless and modern Christmas
At Style at Home senior style editor Ann Marie Favot's midtown Toronto house, Christmas is lovingly created by hand with both budget and elegance in mind.
It’s hard not to get carried away when hosting a holiday feast: formal table settings, complete with chargers and centrepieces, party favours and place cards, oh my! Trees are decorated to the nines, gifts are wrapped so beautifully you never want to open them and glittering decorations capture everyone’s eye, whichever way they happen to glance. This time of year, over the top can be an understatement, and inhibitions about spending seem to soar out the window.
But Style at Home’s senior style editor, Ann Marie Favot, has found that fine holiday balance. She hosts some of the most elegant affairs featuring personalized menus, signature drinks, two trees and gold and blue accents – everywhere. Yet the look is refined, the decor tasteful and the price tag minimal. After all, savvy Annie does a lot of it by hand and on a budget. It’s no Christmas miracle that it all looks so beautiful.
A small faux tree in the entryway sets the party’s tone for arriving guests. What does it say? The pretty champagne-coloured ice bucket holding the tree: “This is a somewhat formal affair.” The luxe sheepskin it’s set upon: “But we’ll make sure you feel comfortable while you’re here.” The ornaments hung from the tree with ribbon instead of the wire they came with: “Extra handmade effort went into this event.” All in all, it says, “This is Christmas. And a chic one at that.”
Make a statement on your staircase – especially if it’s in the entryway. Here’s an easy way to do so that looks glitzy and expensive but costs very little in terms of time and money: Suspend a multi-stringed beaded garland along your banister using white ribbon. Wire together trios of ornaments and attach them to the ribbon. Tuck in gilded leaves for extra flourish and – voila! You’re the queen of Christmas crafts.
Here lies proof that a topper isn’t the most essential element for a decorated tree. On Annie’s evergreen, the perfectly coordinated ornaments stand for themselves, and a topper would have just drawn onlookers’ eyes away from those efforts. So put away that oversized star or handcrafted Christmas angel, and leave your treetop au naturel. It has a humble country look that complements Annie’s contemporary space. Don’t be afraid to switch out your everyday decor for the seasonal stuff, says Annie. Here, she simply removed a piece of artwork from her gallery wall and replaced it with a gold metal wreath hung from a pretty blue ribbon. She didn’t need to make a new hole in her wall, and her holiday decorations seem to seamlessly blend in with what’s always been there, for a look that’s festive but far from over the top.
When homeowner and Style at Home senior style editor Ann Marie Favot hosts a dinner for family or friends, Christmastime or not, she likes to keep everyone's glasses full. But ducking in and out of the kitchen means she misses out on her guests' anecdotes and punchlines, so she creates a bar station in the room where the action happens. On her dining room console, Annie used a simple gold tray to corral her bar elements, then she selected a signature drink to serve guests. "To be honest, I chose this cocktail because it matched my palette," she says.
Last Christmas’s boxwood wreaths dried out over the course of the year and, at first, Annie considered tossing them out. But, ever the inventive decorista, she had an idea: She could turn misfortune into fortune by spray-painting the browning wreaths gold – a quick trick that both prevents them from crumbling and also reinforces her holiday colour palette.
The dining table is beautifully set with an air of formality at a casual price. Craft store gift tags were turned into place cards with the wave of a gold pen, while menus were made from plain card stock with the courses handwritten on each and a decorative label placed at the top. It’s a personal touch that doesn’t require spending a fortune at the printer’s.
From the gifts to the tabletop decor, the beautiful blue and gold colour palette is reinforced right down to the napkins.
Cohesion is key to constructing a grouping of stylishly wrapped presents. Annie chose four coordinating papers in solid colours and subtle patterns, and created easy cards and toppers to make them stand out. Instead of buying pricey gift tags, she personalized plain white craft store ones with simple stickers, or placed sticky name tag labels directly on the gift wrap. She also played with layers of ribbon and twine on each gift in addition to using traditional bows.
Christmas crackers are often as pretty as they are fun to pop open, so why hide them away until the big dinner? Instead of filling a bowl with shimmery Christmas ornaments or rustic pinecones, Annie used gold crackers for an uncomplicated festive display. The bonus? With space at a premium during the holidays, it’s nice to be able to store stuff in plain sight without having it look like clutter.
It’s all in the details. Sure, this pretty toss cushion wasn’t brought out exclusively for Santa. But we love how Annie’s blue, white and gold Christmas scheme echoes her home’s everyday palette, right down to the smallest notion – like a gold zipper on a custom blue and white toss cushion.
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.
Not all light bulbs are created equal. Find out how using high-quality light bulbs in your kitchen can change the way you eat, cook and decorate.
Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s where you create nourishing meals and gather with the ones you love. It’s amazing how the right lighting can make everything you enjoy in this dynamic area easier and more beautiful.
Not all light bulbs are equal when it comes to delivering clear, high-quality light. Some give off a yellowish hue, even when they’re supposed to cast a soft white glow. They can make everything in your kitchen — from wall colour to accessories to ingredients — appear less vibrant. Others take time to warm up to their full brightness, which leaves you and your loved ones in the shadows for a lot longer after you’ve flipped them on.
Here’s a better option: GE reveal light bulbs create sunny, clear, natural-looking light. They boost your eyes’ ability to distinguish between greens and reds, which allows you to perceive more vibrant colours overall. That means you’ll see vivid details in high definition, and whites will seem cleaner and crisper.
Humans eat with their eyes first, so outfitting your kitchen with reveal light bulbs means selecting ingredients and sharing meals become more satisfying. You can look at berries and see their freshness reflected in bright reds, blues and purples. You can appreciate the crisp, bright green of leafy vegetables and savour every colourful bite of the dishes you love.
The bright, clean light from GE reveal bulbs also makes everyday cooking tasks easier. They come on at maximum brightness, without any waiting, and offer clarity that other bulbs don’t. With them, you can see the exact moment when a skillet full of onions turns perfectly golden, signalling they’re ready for the next step in your favourite recipe. You can observe the second that egg whites or cream are whipped to perfect peaks without worrying about overbeating them.
GE reveal also out-powers other light bulbs when it comes to showing off details in your kitchen decor. Natural stone and wood surfaces come alive, revealing their beautiful, subtle textures and grain patterns. Wall colours look true and vibrant — never dingy or yellowish — and bright accents really pop. Normally dark walls and corners get a boost, too, so framed photos and display items make a statement. You’ll be able to see what you’ve been missing in the most-used room of your house.
No matter what sort of look you want, GE reveal has solutions. With a wide assortment of sizes, styles and wattages, you can light your kitchen just the way you like it. Use dimmable, lower-wattage bulbs to create an intimate atmosphere around a table, and brighter bulbs for high-traffic areas and task lighting over work surfaces. With them, you can transform your kitchen from ordinary to extraordinary with just the flick of a switch.
GE reveal lighting products are available at Lowe’s and Walmart stores across Canada. Ready to stock up? From October 22 to December 2, 2016, you’ll receive a 30% discount on energy-efficient reveal A 19 light bulbs at Walmart.
Festive and fabulous decorating inspiration for your holiday table this year includes glam touches, Scandinavian accents, and easy DIYs to wow your guests.
Creating a holiday tablescape that wows can be as easy as 1-2-3. Check out our favourite festive table settings for 2016, as well as the straightforward DIYs that make them come to life.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: GOLD GLAM TABLESCAPE: Make your holiday table sparkle and shine this season by setting it in glamorous gold.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: RUSTIC SCANDINAVIAN TABLESCAPE: Bring a taste of the Norse pole to your table with elegant Scandi-chic rustic elements.
A dinner party that has guests raving for days is all in the details. Take this masterfully muted, fashionably festive and quietly romantic rustic Scandinavian tablescape. We love its creamy taupe, linen white and pale minty green colour scheme – a fresh take on tradition topped with subtle seasonal elements like sprigs of fresh evergreen and soft touches of gold. But even better are the elements you don’t notice at first glance like the effortless DIYs that even an uncrafty hostess can easily achieve. Here are the highlights.
You’ve outdone yourself with this year’s holiday tablescape, but don’t overlook your chairs! What a perfect place to underscore your seating arrangement with ready-made mini buntings stencilled with snowflakes. Each topped with a gift tag and a sprig of greenery, the unexpected adornments are an easy way to add extra details that are sure to impress guests.
These sweet place cards are not only wintry and whimsical, they’re also easy and inexpensive to execute: Simply tie a handwritten gift tag to a wooden toy sleigh (which, like the rest of the supplies, can be found at any craft store) with ribbon or yarn that matches your holiday colour scheme. Top it off with two FERRERO ROCHER® chocolates to treat guests with a decadent sweet to enjoy later – and maybe even dub you the host with the most!
Candles are key to tabletop mood lighting, but these festive votives look just as fabulous when they’re not lit. Gussied up with burlap wrap effortlessly secured by a tiny tree-shaped clothespin and a deer-stamped strip of cotton, they lend a quintessentially rustic-chic vibe. Frayed edges keep this craft virtually fuss-free but also require the use of battery-powered tea lights rather than open flames.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: DESSERT TRAY DIY PROJECT: Serve guests in style with the help of this super simple marbled tray DIY.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: SLEIGH PLACE CARD HOLDERS DIY PROJECT: Inspired by the man in red himself, these DIY FERRERO ROCHER® bearing sleigh place card holders are easy, playful and – best of all – delectable.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: STYLISH SLIPKNOT MENU DIY PROJECT: Create gorgeous slipknot menu cards your guests are sure to love.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: FESTIVE WRAPPED VOTIVE DIY: Add a festive flair to your holiday table with these adorable wrapped votive candle holders.