Get your home ready for the holiday season with these helpful tips & tricks.
The holiday hustle can make the season seem daunting. The Moody family has some tips on how to make it exciting once again.
When November hits, the pressure is on for any busy family. The real challenge, however, is keeping the holidays as fun and stress-free as possible. Despite hectic careers, hockey tournaments, theatre performances and family gatherings, Surrey, B.C., designer Lisa Moody of Grapevine Designs tackles this feat with panache, along with her husband, Ron, and their kids, Svea, 14, Eston, 12, and Eli, 9. Here, we get a glimpse into their stylish 6,900 sq. ft. home, plus a few of the festive traditions that make Christmas especially merry for the Moody clan.
Homeowner and designer Lisa Moody made this advent calendar garland 10 years ago by combining her kids’ stray socks with some Christmas-themed ones bought on sale after the holidays.
“There will be a day when I’ll have a formal Christmas tree,” says Lisa with a laugh. But when three kids are contributing to the scheme, bright, fun colours and childhood mementoes reign for now.
“We decorate our faux tree at the end of November. It’s nice to get the decorating done early so we can enjoy the season longer.”
The kids (from left), Svea, Eli and Eston, hang out with Lisa (far right) and enjoy Christmas treats in the dining area. The simple modern table and chairs are durable, practical choices for family mealtime.
Lisa packages presents using plain white kraft paper jazzed up with colourful and patterned ribbons as well as left over scraps of holiday gift wrap.
The fireplace, which has a soaring marble-clad surround, is a focal point for the family during the holidays. Can you spot the Elf on the Shelf? It sits in one of the the built-in maple cubbies and is the origin of many hilarious holiday shenanigans.
The Moody home is the place for family parties during the holidays, and the island in the kitchen, with its yellow wooden stools, is where everyone gathers.
“When a big dinner party seems too overwhelming, we’ll have friends over for cocktails and snacks by the fire.”
Lisa hosts a Christmas party for the kids and their friends. This year, they’re decorating gingerbread cookies and enjoying hot chocolate in festive mugs with marshmallows, candy canes and chocolate chips.
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.
We designed a Parisian-style kitchen to please any mixed metal lover. Can you tell which is the high and which is the low?
1 Delta Trinsic pull-down single-lever faucet in Champagne Bronze, Roman Bath Centre, $535. 2 Copper-plated stainless steel Russet measuring cups, Anthropologie, $28 US per 4-piece set. 3 Frosted mouth-blown glass Vanadin pendant lights, IKEA, $20 each. 4 Stainless steel-lined copper saucepan & frying pan, HomeSense, $40 each. 5 Powder-coated steel Karpalund table base (customized), IKEA, $80; custom cultured marble tabletop in Platinum Grey Agate, H&M Manufacturing, $450; supplies, The Home Depot, $132. 6 Cotton tea towel, HomeSense, $8 per 4-piece set. 7 Backless counter-height polished stainless steel Rochelle stool in Gold, Black Rooster Decor, $325. 8 Tarkett FiberFloor grey geo-metric vinyl sheet flooring, Lowe’s, $1.70 per sq. ft. 9 Raised foil-coated fibreboard Grimslöv cabinetry doors in Off-white,IKEA, $144. 10 Style Selections zinc arched pulls in Aged Brass, 4", Lowe’s, $5 each. 11 Stainless steel Catering Heritage kitchen scale in Black, Kitchen Stuff Plus, $40.
1 Waterstone contemporary pull-down single-lever 5400 faucet in Polished Brass, Roman Bath Centre, $1,859. 2 Copper-plated stainless steel measuring cups, Williams-Sonoma, $60 per 4-piece set. 3 Cut frosted glass Stamp pendant lights, EQ3, $200 each. 4 Signature Line stainless steel-lined brushed copper saucepan, 1.5 l, Falk, $255; frying pan, 1.7 l, Falk, $320. 5 Free-standing Carrara marble-topped hand-finished cast steel and aluminum French kitchen island, Crate and Barrel, $1,799. 6 Turkish cotton twill tea towel in Jojoba, Williams-Sonoma, $27 per 4-piece set. 7 Backless counter-height stainless steel Metallic stool in Polished Gold, Art Shoppe, $799. 8 White Oak marble Honeycomb Hexagon floor tiles, The Home Depot, $18 per sq. ft. 9 Bevelled lacquered fibreboard Bodbyn cabinetry doors in Off-white, IKEA, $311. 10 Contemporary 141 PULLS in Burnished Brass, 5", Richelieu Hardware, $46 each, through designers. 11 Vintage-style enamelled steel spring kitchen scale, Williams-Sonoma, $60.
Create extra storage with a stylish free-standing island! Find out how we created the budget-friendly customized version using an IKEA Karpalund table base here. LOW: Powder-coated steel Karpalund table base (customized), IKEA, $80; custom cultured marble tabletop in Platinum Grey Agate, H&M Manufacturing, $450; supplies, The Home Depot, $132. HIGH: Free-standing Carrara marble-topped hand-finished cast steel and aluminum French kitchen island, Crate and Barrel, $1,799.
Add some glitz and glamour to your kitchen with a stainless steel stool. LOW: Backless counter-height polished stainless steel Rochelle stool in Gold, Black Rooster Decor, $325. HIGH: Backless counter-height stainless steel Metallic stool in Polished Gold, Art Shoppe, $799.
Add pattern to your kitchen with two fabulous flooring options to suit any budget. LOW: Tarkett FiberFloor grey geo-metric vinyl sheet flooring, Lowe’s, $1.70 per sq. ft. HIGH: White Oak marble Honeycomb Hexagon floor tiles, The Home Depot, $18 per sq. ft.
Both of these pendant lights showcase classic understated elegance. From afar, the white glass shades are unassuming, lending interest with their sleek silhouettes, but up close, beautiful intricate textures are revealed. So what contributes to the lights’ tenfold price difference? While the Low pattern is imprinted on the surface in one fell swoop in a mould using the mouth-blowing method, each of the indents on the High is individually cut into the glass. LOW: Frosted mouth-blown glass Vanadin pendant lights, IKEA, $20. HIGH: Cut frosted glass Stamp pendant lights, EQ3, $200.
Glam up your kitchen with a warm metal faucet like one of these sleek single-lever goosenecks. LOW: Delta Trinsic pull-down single-lever faucet in Champagne Bronze, Roman Bath Centre, $535. HIGH: Waterstone contemporary pull-down single-lever 5400 faucet in Polished Brass, Roman Bath Centre, $1,859.
Glam up your kitchen with a warm metal faucet like one of these sleek single-lever goosenecks. Go for brass (polished, antiqued or matte), bronze or rose gold. 1 Waterworks Henry one-hole in Unlacquered Brass, Ginger’s, $3,365. 2 Waterstone pull-down 5400 in Polished Brass, Roman Bath Centre, $1,859. 3 LaSalle 8DLAL in Matt Antique Brass, The Rubinet Faucet Company, $699. 4 Delta Trinsic pull-down in Champagne Bronze, Roman Bath Centre, $535. 5 Pull-down Spaghetti in Rose Gold, Aquabrass, $650.
Before you update your kitchen cabinets make sure the design reflects the simplicity or complexity of your kitchen and go from there. LOW: Raised foil-coated fibreboard Grimslöv cabinetry doors in Off-white, IKEA, $144. HIGH: Bevelled lacquered fibreboard Bodbyn cabinetry doors in Off-white, IKEA, $311.
While seemingly a small accessory on the counter, this scale is a useful gadget for many cooking endeavours. LOW: Stainless steel Catering Heritage kitchen scale in Black, Kitchen Stuff Plus, $40. HIGH: Vintage-style enamelled steel spring kitchen scale, Williams-Sonoma, $60.
Searching for a stylish pot rail? Look no further than the curtain aisle: Drapery rods make apt stand-ins. Use clip rings for lighter items and S-hooks for heavier pieces.
Copper cookware is a hot commodity – and for good reason. In addition to its pretty shade, the metal delivers superior even results thanks to its high conductivity. However, not all copper cookware is created equal. Unless you’re buying a specialty item, such as a sugar pan, opt for pieces lined with a stable metal like stainless steel (copper can react with acidic and alkaline foods in a potentially harmful way). Look for hefty cookware, as thickness affects conductivity, with sturdy metal handles. LOW: Stainless steel-lined copper saucepan & frying pan, HomeSense, $40 each. HIGH: Signature Line stainless steel-lined brushed copper saucepan, 1.5 l, Falk, $255; frying pan, 1.7 l, Falk, $320.
An essential kitchen item doesn't need to be boring, or hidden! Find a metal or colourful version to fit your decor and put it on display. What a perfect way to show off your skills and keep your drawers a little more clutter-free. LOW: Copper-plated stainless steel Russet measuring cups, Anthropologie, $28 US per 4-piece set. HIGH: Copper-plated stainless steel measuring cups, Williams-Sonoma, $60 per 4-piece set.
Don't forget about your hardware! With so many styles to choose from you're sure to find something that fits your budget. LOW: Style Selections zinc arched pulls in Aged Brass, 4", Lowe’s, $5 each. HIGH: Contemporary 141 pulls in Burnished Brass, 5", Richelieu Hardware, $46 each, through designers.
Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.