It's been nearly three years since Jennifer Hanlon and her daughter, Emily, now age 8, celebrated their first Christmas in this 1912 row house in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood. Looking back, Jennifer laughs. “This place was in need of some serious TLC,” she says. “I had been stripping, sanding and plastering almost everything, but to celebrate without a real
? Not a chance!”
So up went a teetering evergreen, on went some store-bought ornaments and out came the
, even though the floors were unfinished and the walls were still being worked on. Such was the beginning of the traditions that remain a part of the Hanlon household to this day: ornaments in quiet hues with touches of blue, grey and snowy white; a less-is-more approach that conjures a sense of peace and wonder; and a
simplicity that reflects the home’s year-round decor – all done by mother and daughter as a team.
This banister was the bane of my existence,” says Jennifer with a laugh. But after months of stripping, sanding, wood-filling and painting, it’s a showpiece. So, what a great place to display the
! The boxwood
were fastened with woolwrapped wire for a more natural look, and the paper cones were filled with sprigs of leftover boxwood. Opening the stockings is a favourite tradition for Jennifer and Emily, so it’s only appropriate that they’re placed centre stage.
Casual dining room
Most of the year, the
table is bare and the rest of the room is spare. But at Christmastime, warm grey
and a centrepiece of mini cypress trees create a tone of celebration. The casual placement of
and pinecones makes for a tablescape that’s natural, inviting and informal.
and other natural accents like pinecones and pots of mini cypress trees give the
its woodland appeal. The table linens in warm grey with touches of silver lend the setting its wintry look. The
feature handmade details like paper stars.
DIY tabletop decor
tied to fabric-wrapped clear glass bottles make for homey
. Using taper candles rather than tealights is a nod to Jennifer’s affinity for Swedish country design and, when clustered, they’re reminiscent of Advent candles.
Rustic breakfast nook
This marble-topped table doubles as an eating zone and a creative space. Dusty miller, with its silvery grey foliage, is an unexpected form of holiday greenery. The white-painted metal lanterns look pretty in the day and festive when glowing at night. During the holidays, breakfasts,
all take place here.
Stylish open shelves
Nestled among the kitchen’s
and canisters is a white reindeer. “The
needs to be functional at this time of year, but small festive touches make it feel different,” says Jennifer.
add a little sparkle to the natural green
plants displayed on the
, which are a mix of evergreens and succulents garnished with green Spanish moss.
Whimsical living room
“Christmas is frenetic enough without adding bright red and green,” says Jennifer, who opts instead for a gentler palette.
, some made from felt, appear in the same stormy greys, icy blues and warm whites you’ll find in this living room year-round. The muted colours and the simplicity of the decor are a nod to
, which Jennifer loves.
“I love these bird ornaments,” says homeowner Jennifer Hanlon. These hand-carved beauties are often nestled in the
alongside vintage looking blue glass baubles. Jennifer has also gathered faux bird nests and other
over the years at post-Christmas sales. “It’s a great time to stock up,” she says.
Decorating the fireplace
A lush green boxwood
hovers above the white
mantel that Jennifer stripped and painted herself. The icy sparkle of mercury glass votive holders and glitter-laden Santas gives the room a snowy glamour. Pinecones and a handmade bunting keep the presentation lighthearted and homey.
need to be wrapped and ornaments need
, but why hide them away? Set out on surfaces, they serve as festive reminders of the holiday season.