Lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs gives her home a fresh look for Christmas. Image by: Tracey Ayton
For lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs, Christmas is all about sentiment and style. Here are 12 ways she pulls off a fresh look filled with meaning to commemorate a family milestone.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without family and tradition, sure, but in Monika Hibbs’s home, Christmas also wouldn’t be complete without her signature styling. Based just outside of Fort Langley, B.C., the blogger, who has quickly become a master of holiday decor, switches up her style almost every year. But regardless of the theme, these aspects always remain: A classic look and neutral scheme, metallic touches, a hint of whimsy and sheer covetability. Seasonal styling is a talent Monika has honed since she was a little girl. “Even when I was young, I loved adorning the tree and wrapping gifts,” she says. “Plus, my mom always let me be in charge of floral arrangements and tablescapes.”
Now that Monika has her own family (including hubby Troy, three-year-old Liam and 11- month-old Lillya), she shares the tasks with her children. “Liam’s really into it,” says Monika. “He decorates cookies, hangs ornaments and arranges the manger.” Though Lillya is too young to get involved, her arrival just two weeks before last Christmas inspired the entire feminine theme, executed with dusty rose-hued accents like tea light holders, wrapping paper and delicate raw silk ribbon.
Holiday decorating with the kids isn’t the only tradition the Hibbses have – they enjoy hot chocolate by their outdoor fireplace in the evenings and always make time for charity. But a highlight is taking the Bright Nights Christmas Train through Stanley Park with Troy’s family. “There’s around 60 of us – we fill the whole train,” says Monika, noting that the park is lit with millions of lights – perhaps the perfect place for this family-oriented champion of Christmas who also happens to have a penchant for sparkle.
1 Lifestyle blogger and unofficial queen of fresh and elegant holiday decor Monika Hibbs has three main tips for trimming a tree: Start with a colour scheme (“You don’t have to use every ornament in your box – save the ones that don’t suit your theme for another year,” she advises); instead of buying one-off ornaments, go for groups of three for visual impact; and organize them by category (like glass balls or felted figures) before hanging them to ensure balanced distribution.
2 “There’s something special about a fire this time of year,” says Monika. The one here in her family room is not the only staple flame of the season – tea lights are strewn on surfaces throughout the house, and the outdoor fireplace plays host to many a morning coffee or evening cocoa. “I love a fire’s warmth and random crackles, which add to the magic of the holidays.”
3 Style meets sentiment in chic pieces that commemorate family milestones, such as the decorative houses arranged on Monika’s fireplace mantel. “Each one represents a huge moment for us, from the purchase of our first home to the construction of this one,” she says. “And I write a note on the bottom of each so I never forget.”
4 Monika doesn’t switch out much of her everyday decor come Christmastime. In fact, furniture placement, artwork and accents mostly stay the same, save for a few toss cushions that get traded for more festive ones.
5 When it comes to garlands, Monika goes all out: She orders a massive length of fresh cedar (last year it was 75 feet!) to string along her banister, mantel, exterior trim and garage. She starts by measuring everything she wants to adorn and then adds an extra foot of cedar for every four feet to accommodate swag. Here, the garland is garnished with eucalyptus, cypress, pine cones and raw silk bows with cascading tails for a fresh, feminine look.
6 “You don’t need to cook an entire sit-down dinner for each of the season’s many parties,” says Monika, who prefers to prep for a holiday drop-in with comfort foods like homemade apple pie. “It’s elegant but cozy,” she explains.
7 Roses may be unconventional Christmas flowers, but they’re perfectly suited to Monika’s pretty-in-pink theme. “Originally, I wanted this piece to be a garland that wrapped around the whole range hood,” says Monika. “But it didn’t look right, so I downsized the idea. It’s perfect proof that sometimes less is more.”
8 A simple wreath hung with thick ribbon serves as another example of less is more and offers a wink of holiday spirit in an otherwise unadorned area.
9 Sparkling rosé served in pink champagne coupes underscores the holiday colour scheme, while whimsical details like frozen-rose ice cubes and sugared cranberries are easy and inexpensive ways to add serious wow factor.
10 No matter her holiday scheme, Monika tends to stick to neutrals when picking gift wrap. “I usually choose paper with subtle patterns, such as snowflakes or polka dots,” she says. “But I always wrap the kids’ presents in something more playful.”
11 Born six weeks after the Hibbses moved into this house and two weeks before Christmas, baby Lillya was the main source of inspiration for the home’s festive decor last year, marked by the powder pink and dusty rose accents with feminine touches. Monika purchased the “Hello Lovely” ornament in honour of Lillya’s birth to serve as a beautiful reminder of when they welcomed her into the world.
12 From the Fort Langley, B.C., shopping bag to the plaid scarf and blanket to the warm winter boots and even the skull mount, there’s always a hint of Canadiana in Monika’s winter decor.
Surprise your favourite caffeine-loving friend or family member with one of these great gift ideas.
Whether they enjoy a morning coffee or an afternoon tea, the caffeine lover on your holiday list is sure to appreciate any of these great gifts. With a wide range of items to help them brew the perfect cuppa, they’ll be happily sipping all holiday season.
This beautiful matte black French press will not only brew delicious coffee, but will also look great displayed on a kitchen counter. Ceramic French Press, CB2, $36.95.
Celebrate the holiday season with a collection of festive tea flavours. This limited edition collection includes tasty teas like Chocolate Covered Almond, Apple Cider and Coffee Cake. Warm & Cozy Gift Box, DavidsTea, $28.
This beautiful stoneware canister will ensure your favourite coffee stay fresh to the last scoop. Also available in styles for storing tea, they'll look great in any kitchen. Utility Kitchen Canister, West Elm, $19 - $39.
Designed exclusively for CB2 by SAIC student Hyunsong Melody Lee, this stackable porcelain teapot and cup will make every stylish sip feel special. SAIC tea for one, CB2, $29.95.
With the ability to brew 18 drink varieties directly from your smart device, the GranBaristo Avanti will ensure everyone in your home is sipping happy this holiday season. SAECO GRANBaristo Avanti, Hudson's Bay, $2,999.
Brew your tea to perfection with the Breville One-Touch tea maker. Not only can it brew tea at five different temperature settings, it also allows you to adjust brew strength between mild, medium and strong. Breville One-Touch tea maker, Williams-Sonoma, $369.
Coffee isn't jusst for drinking. Enjoy a spa-like experience with this luxurious scrub. The scrub's fair trade coffee will improve elasticity while polishing and exfoliating dry, tired skin. Palermo Body Scrub, Anthropologie, $44 USD.
Looking for something festive to add to a tea-themed gift? You can't go wrong with this adorable tea infuser. Gingerbread Man Tea Infuser, Crate & Barrel, $7.95.
You can never have too many mugs, especially when they're as fun as Indigo's Canadian-themed collection. Available for each province, they'll make a great gift for anyone on your list. Canada mug, Indigo, $12.
With flavours like White Chocolate Peppermint and Gingerbread this set of deliciously decadent loose-leaf teas is the perfect treat. Season's Treatings Dessert Tea Sampler, TEAVANA, $40.
Turn your budding barista into a latte artist with the Creatista Plus. Combining Nespresso coffee quality with Breville's stunning design and steam wand technology this machine allows users to create their own latte art at home. NESPRESSO Breville Creatista Plus Coffee Machine, Hudson's Bay, $799.
Enjoy some rest and relaxation over the holidays with Tub Tea. Simply steep this soothing blend of chamomile, mint and Epsom salts in hot water and then add it into a warm bath. Unwind Tub Tea, BRIKA, $16.
Try at your own risk! Said to be the world's strongest coffee, it'll give your caffeine crazed friend or family member a buzz like no other and revolutionize their coffee-drinking experience. Death Wish Coffee, Death Wish Coffee Co., $19.99.
With a wide variety of sayings, these hand-stamped vintage spoons will be the perfect addition to afternoon tea. Hand stamped tea spoon, Milk & Honey Luxuries on Etsy, $24.98.
Anyone who loves iced coffee (even in the winter) will love Hario’s Fretta V60 ice coffee maker. Remove the ice holder and it can also be used to make hot brew at home. Hario Ice Coffee Maker, Indigo, $35.
When brewing loose leaf tea it's important to have the proper tools. Williams-Sonoma makes brewing tea at home easy with the Ultimate Tea Maker's Set. No matter the mug size, you'll enjoy a properly infused tea each time. Ultimate Tea Maker's Set, Williams-Sonoma, $66.43.
What better way to display your love of coffee than with a gorgeous print! Simple and chic, it's perfect for hanging anywhere in the home. But First, Coffee Print, Swell Made Co., $28.
Any tea fanatic knows a good cup of tea starts with a great kettle. Not only is this Le Creuset kettle eye-catching, it also has an innovative heating base compatible with all cooking surfaces, even induction. Classic Whistling Kettle, Le Creuset, $80.
These delectable milk and dark chocolate treats are filled with a coffee-flavoured centre, making them the perfect treat for any coffee lover. Mocha Melties, Purdys Chocolatier, $14.50.
We can't forget about matcha! This kit has everything you need to make perfect matcha every time. The Matcha Essentials, DavidsTea, $35.
Any owner of the Chemex Coffee Maker will adore its matching cream and sugar set. Making it the perfect present for someone who's already got his or her go-to brewer. Chemex Cream and Sugar Set, Crate & Barrel, $54.95.
Enjoying your beverage on-the-go just got a stylish update with the Nespresso limited edition Festive Les Collection Touch Travel Mug by Lorenzo Petrantoni. Festive Les Collection Touch Travel Mug, Nespresso, $32.
Hosting a holiday high tea? Then you'll want to serve these tea-infused treats. They're great for enjoying with friends, or wrapping up as a holiday gift. Find the recipe here.
Not only is this elephant-shaped mug adorable, it also features a tiny compartment to place your tea bag after you're done brewing. Plum & Bow Elephant Tea Mug, Urban Outfitters, $16.
Winter weather means stocking up on hand cream. Why not gift your tea lover with this all-vegan hand cream infused with one of DavidsTea's most popular tea. Forever Nuts Tea-Infused Hand Cream, DavidsTea, $6.
lead image: Crate & Barrel
We've put together our list of gift ideas to make holiday shopping a breeze.
It's time to start putting together your holiday gift list. Not sure where to start? We've rounded up some great gifts we love that will help make shopping during the holidays quick and easy. Take a look at our long list of chic and stylish items for everyone on your list.
Rosanna Jazz Age porcelain lidded Pardon My French BOX, 3" x 2", Inter-Continental Mercantile, $28.
Bower turned brass and maple Tipsy Writer pen holders (pens included), Brika, $39 each.
Assorted Symbol # marquee sign in White, 6" x 8", Canadian Tire, $20.
Medium stoneware Indigo Illustration trinket dish, Anthropologie, $14 US.
Ommo plastic tiered tray in Suede, Drake General Store, $62.
Glass Milk Bottle Sipper bottles, Anthropologie, $12 US each.
Smudge Design Prickly Paired personalized notecard with straight edge in Leaf, Minted, $71 per pack of 25 (includes kraft envelopes).
Unleashed Life reclaimed steel Easton dog bowl, O.co, from $43.
Bang & Olufsen portable Bluetooth Beoplay A1 speaker in Natural, Amazon.ca, $299.
Wild & Wolf 746 telephone in Copper, Hudson's Bay, $120.
Handmade glass Mixology cocktail glasses with 20-karat gold lettering. Vital Industries on Etsy, $60 US per set of 4.
Felted Corriedale wool faux succulent in Mint Green with terracotta pot in Copper, Contrabotanic on Etsy, $40.
Regenerated cotton blend Rockin’ Moroccan throw, Mood Design Studio on Etsy, $185 US.
Lacquered wood Turner picture frame with brass appliqués, 4" x 4", Jonathan Adler, $128 US.
Crystal Mini perfume bottles, 3", HomeSense, $8 each.
Personalized linen Love toss cushions with feather and down insert in Natural & Navy, 12" x 16", Yun & Yoonie on Etsy, $42 US.
Brass-plated stainless steel Pineapple measuring cups, Anthropologie, $48 US per 4-piece set.
Fresh Zodiac Oval Cancer bar soaps, Sephora, $18 each.
Lucky Charm Hamsa objet, 4" x 3", Indigo, $20.
Plastic Unicorn pencil holder, Kikkerland, $25.
Marble and acacia wood dip bowl (with 2 polished brass spoons), 5", Indigo, $35.
Porcelain Stay Fancy dessert plate, HomeSense, $5.
Greg Voisin ceramic Drake’s Hotline Bling mug in Pink, One of a Kind Online Shop, $25.
Learn the tips & tricks to make the most of your small space.
Make your small space work harder with smart solutions for making it look and feel larger than it actually is.
“Every room has eight corners. Don’t forget that.”
I first heard that from my mom when I was a kid. Whenever we moved, about every other year, I’d hear her mutter those words when she thought she was alone. Standing with hands on hips, she’d stare into the ceiling of our latest apartment, surrounded by boxes and wondering how we’d organize all the books and plants and knick-knacks this time around.
My mom had a point (and she made our space look cosy and organized and funky no matter the size), but she was no design expert. So I found two pros to provide some insight on how to make the most of tight spots in your home.
Meet the experts
Lynda Felton is stylist in Toronto who’s created living spaces for magazines and books.
Kyla Rozman, along with her business partner Pamela Ferrari, runs Vancouver-based In Order To Succeed Professional Organizing.
THE FUNDAMENTALS FOR ANY SMALL SPACE
1 Remember: A tiny room doesn’t have to hold only tiny furniture.
Sometimes with a small space, people avoid large furniture thinking it will dominate the room. Not true. A large sectional can often be better than a small sofa and chair. Lynda
2 Combine like objects and purge.
Don’t purchase any organizing supplies until you know precisely what needs to be stored. Kyla
3 Use mirrors and glass to create reflections and bounce light around.
Making a small space seem grand depends on maximizing light. You can do that with a glass coffee table, rather than a wood or opaque one. You can do it by tucking mirrors into corners, and by hanging art in glass frames, which create reflections. Lynda
4 Ensure that window coverings don’t cut off light when they’re open.
Hang curtains so that when they’re open, the entire pane is clear; open curtains should fall beside the window and not obscure any of it. Don’t hang curtains inside the window frame. Consider hanging curtains from the ceiling, rather than from the top of the window, which will add height (and some drama) to the space. Lynda
5 Think vertically.
Whether you’re hanging art or shelves, or placing furniture, don’t let vertical space go to waste. Using it is practical, providing a display space for art, for example, and it also draws the eye up, making a space feel more expansive than it actually is. LyndaROOM-BY-ROOM SPECIFICS
In the kitchen
6 Install to-the-ceiling cabinets.
Light-coloured cabinets, open shelves and glass-front doors will help to lighten a space. Too many cabinets, especially made of dark materials, will give the impression that the room is much smaller than it actually is. Lynda
7 Increase accessibility and capacity.
You can do this by adding pullout shelves, rotating inserts and tilt-out bins. Kyla
8 Use cork and magnetic boards.
If new or more cabinets aren’t in your future or your budget, remember that canisters on the counter take up valuable real estate. So cast your eye up to see where you can hang utensils, pots and pans on previously unused space. Lynda
9 Buy wire shelves.
They’re a must in a small space and in the kitchen they can almost double a cupboard’s capacity. Kyla
10 Use the inside of cupboard doors.
If covered with magnetic paint, they can accommodate papers and notes that might get knocked off a fridge in a small space. Lynda
11 Fill a cleaning caddy with supplies that can be stored in the kitchen, but transported around the house. This eliminates the need for cleaning supplies in multiple rooms, like the basement and bathroom, saving space in each. KylaIn the home office
12 Use a wall file system to organize documents.
This will get them off your work surface, but keep them visible and handy. Kyla
13 Consider redesigned wall bed/shelf/desk combinations.
The bed and desk fold into the wall leaving the room clear when you need the space. They also work well in a spare bedroom. Kyla
14 Move all CDs and DVDs into books with sleeves.
I love the faux leather ones at Staples. Then you can dispose of the space-consuming plastic jewel cases. Kyla
15 Don’t throw your coins in a jar.
Buy plastic coin holders that lay open and drop your coins into the appropriate sleeve. You’ll save hours because you’ll never have to sort again. Kyla
16 Get a paper shredder.
And in a small space, make it a habit to shred as soon as mail comes in. That way, there’s no backlog. KylaIn the living room
17 Watch your furniture scale.
You can make a compact room feel much bigger by choosing a few large, bold pieces rather than several smaller ones. And keep the main furnishings in proportion to each other. Lynda
18 Avoid bold patterns or overstuffed furniture with thick arms.
Streamlined pieces, such as armless Parson chairs, are beautiful space savers. Lynda
19 Hang your flat screen TV on a flexible arm.
This eliminates the need for a TV stand or entertainment unit. KylaIn the bathroom
20 Get rid of any visual obstructions.
Trade a frosted-glass bath or shower door for a clear glass one. Better yet, eliminate the door altogether and hang a shower curtain that can be pushed to one side when not in use. Lynda
21 Use pullout drawers in the cupboard below your sink.
These ones from Lee Valley are designed to accommodate plumbing. Kyla
22 Hang shelves above the toilet.
Use decorative boxes on the shelves to contain/hide the clutter. Label the boxes so that everything is easy to find, or so that everyone in the household can have their own box. Kyla
In the hallway and closet
23 Wallpaper isn’t just on-trend. It’s practical, too.
In narrow hallways, wallpaper can draw the eye away from the length of the space and create the illusion of width. Just remember: a small space isn't a place for high-contrast colour or patterns. Go for tone-on-tone papers. Lynda
24 Work the lateral space.
By adding a second rod inside a closet, you can double your hanging space. Hanging cubby shelves attached to the rod can add space for sweaters, shoes and hats. Lynda
25 Go custom.
Made-to-measure closet systems can be affordable. And systems from Storables or the Container Store can be dismantled if you want to take them with you when you move. Kyla