6 easy Christmas decorating DIYs
Holly Baker wears many hats: She’s a resourceful renovator and genius DIYer (as evidenced in Style at Home’s June and July 2014 issues, which feature Holly’s handiwork); she’s the blogger behind In the Fun Lane; and she’s a wife to her husband, Sean, and mom to her six-year-old daughter, Wren. At Christmastime, Holly also dons the proverbial Santa cap and jazzes up her home using her signature playful high-low approach to decorating. It’s the same MO that defines all her endeavours – style-driven, accessible and totally crafty. “I like to think our Christmas scheme is a fun twist on simple, natural holiday style,” she says. To that effect, red and white decorations (including plenty of handmade ones) impress alongside loads of fresh greenery, mostly clipped from the Bakers’ yard. The resulting look is perfectly festive and fit for Christmas baking sessions with Wren and grown-up dinner parties alike.
The Baker family knows how to decorate their house for the festive season without going overboard. Their 6 simple DIYs create the perfect cozy holiday home for their family to enjoy.
A holiday tradition, Advent candles are lit each Sunday in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In keeping with her home’s red and white holiday scheme, homeowner Holly Baker found these numbered candles to indicate the weeks. She notes that these would be a cinch to create with white candles, stencils and red paint.
Nothing compares to candlelight when it comes to creating an intimate atmosphere on chilly winter evenings. A grouping of candles sits in a bright red tray; when it’s lit en masse, it evokes a serene holiday scene. The rustic-look candlesticks were crafted by tightly wrapping twine around the necks and bases of glass bottles and then securing the ends with glue.
Who wouldn’t love to receive one of Holly’s brown paper packages tied up with yarn? She makes her gifts extra-special by topping them with pompoms created with a pompom maker (which can be found at craft-supply or fabric stores).
“I love decorating with greenery from our yard, since it’s free and festive,” says Holly with a laugh. For this simple display, vintage glass jars were filled halfway with white rice and their rims embellished with cedar sprigs attached with floral wire. Basic pillar candles were then nestled into the rice.
“The day we decorate the tree is always a favourite in our house,” says Holly. In lieu of a traditional Advent calendar, Holly adorns the Christmas tree with mini gift bags embellished with numbers (one through 24) and filled with tiny treasures. These ones were store-bought, but they can be easily made with paper gift bags and numbered tags or stickers. “Wren loves to look for the numbered bag each day,” she says. Holly also decorates the faux tree with hand-ripped lengths of fabric tied into bows, patterned garlands and straw ornaments.
The fireplace mantel has a lovingly homespun look thanks to evergreen boughs, woolly cable-knit stockings and three strands of patterned garland. Each stocking was given a mock monogram with the addition of a lettered tag.
You'll love this eclectic and exotic home in Toronto.
Style at Home design editor Jessica Waks pulls out all the stops and transforms a diamond in the rough into her forever family home.
As a decorator searching for a fixer-upper to put my own stamp on, house hunting was a true exercise in imagination. Not everyone is able to visualize the hidden potential in a space that hasn't been touched in more than 60 years, but I was convinced I had found my forever family home after stepping through the front door of this 1,900-square-foot red-brick charmer in midtown Toronto. One-and-a-half years and a major renovation later, my husband, David Goodman, and I moved in just in time to prepare for the arrival of our twin boys, Jack and Charlie.
The house had beautiful bones typical of the 1930s, but it needed a serious facelift and a complete overhaul of the plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. I reconfigured the floor plan for optimal entertaining and family living, including a 1,000-square-foot two-storey addition to house an open-concept kitchen and family room on the main floor, and a master suite on the second. I also lengthened the dining room to accommodate a bigger crowd, added a main floor powder room, and opened up and extended the foyer for better flow. I put in closets wherever possible, too; coming from a family of five women, I know you can never have enough storage!
In the foyer, a marble harlequin floor, high-gloss black banister and crystal light fixture set the vintage glam vibe of the rest of the house. The white wainscotting also add to the classic appeal.
The living room's focal point is a hand-carved marble fireplace flanked by vintage crystal sconces and contemporary black and white prints. The herringbone pattern on the inside of the firebox is repeated in the flooring as well as in the custom cowhide rug.
"The living room contains some of my favourite decorating elements, such as black and white stripes, exotic cat prints, chinoiserie accents and tufted upholstery," says Jessica. "I return to them time and time again."
The doorway connecting the living and dining rooms was opened up, and conceals French-style pocket doors. A Mid-Century Modern Aldo Tura bar cart is tucked into the corner so guests can help themselves to a pre-dinner cocktail.
Colourful accents, such as the lavender mohair chair, enliven the eclectic assortment of black and white furniture in the living room, including the antique settee Jessica had refurbished for her first apartment.
Visual tension creates interest and can be achieved by combining modern moments with pieces from the past. In this living room vignette, contemporary artwork hangs above an ormolu-encrusted furniture chest filled with treasured porcelain that belonged to Jessica's grandparents.
The dining room feels like a jewel box thanks to the gold-leafed ceiling and ethereal hand-painted Chinese wallpaper. Pairing painted antiqued cream dining chairs with the rich wood of a Duncan Phyfe-style dining table and antique hutch helps keep the room from feeling too heavy. "Aubergine is one of my favourite colours, and I love how the deep, glossy sheen of the leatherette pops against the warm white finish of the chair frames," says Jessica.
The powder room is known as a space where decorators can
go a little wild, and this adventurous mix of black and cream leopard, malachite and brass is no exception. The pattern in the neutral wallpaper is small enough to let the mirror's malachite frame shine, while the brass washstand, plumbing and vintage sconces enhance the luxe effect.
Jessica loves white master bedrooms but wanted a jolt of colour to keep it interesting. So she worked with Toronto luxury home store Elte on a custom wool ikat rug in daring blue and purple hues, and left the big items neutral for a calming and restful retreat. The drapery and bedding are trimmed in navy to tie everything together. The brass Chiavari vanity chair, a vintage find from Miami, turned out to be the perfect shade of purple so Jessica didn't have to change a thing.
Jessica found this chair on a Style at Home trip to the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts. "I love its elaborate carvings and patina. It's like a sculpture that can hold its own in any room in the house."
The upstairs den is a little refuge off the master bedroom for Jessica and her husband to curl up with a book or watch TV. The pastel palette isn't too saccharine thanks to a heavy dose of grounding black and white. "I snapped up the lavender area rug at a sample sale without knowing where it would go," says Jessica. "It looks like it was tailor-made for this room, a testament to the fact that when you buy things you love, you can always make them work."
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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.