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.
DIY project: Stylish storage cabinet
One coffee table gets three different makeovers
Our design team revamps a coffee table and then builds a stylish space around it.
Style at Home's talented design team puts their own unique spin on IKEA's VITTSJÖ nesting-style coffee table with a personality-packed room to match. Discover how it all comes together and how you can create the same look in your home.
We love IKEA VITTSJO'S strong lines, ideal scale and multi-functionality. The players: Style at Home’s design team. The challenge: Put a unique spin on this nesting-style coffee table and then build a personality-packed room around it.
“I gravitate to light, airy rooms – that’s just what I like,” says senior style editor Ann Marie Favot. Inspired by a fresh pastel palette, she had her coffee table bases painted mint and grey, leaving the tempered glass tops intact. From there, Ann Marie settled on Farrow & Ball’s Yukutori wallpaper for subtle colour and texture in the room. Copper-toned accents and a pretty mix of toss cushions finish off the space. “It’s my version of Scandi style,” she says. “Simple yet decorated.”
Senior style editor Ann Marie Favot made a coaster by putting felt tabs under a hexagon-shaped mirror. “The geometric trend is so big right now,” she says.
The colours in this toss cushion’s graphic print provided the jumping-off point for Ann Marie’s scheme.
Complementary colours add interest and dimension to this modern nesting-style table with a linear silhouette.
Design editor Stacy Begg didn’t shy away from making a bold change to her coffee table. “I’m really into brights and neons, so I picked the brightest pink I could find for the bases,” she says. Stacy continued the pink theme throughout the room with the wall colour and rug, while all the other main pieces – from the sofa and side table to the macrame wall hanging – remain neutral. “It’s a mix of industrial, hippie and preppy,” says Stacy. “Let’s just say I was feeling playful.”
Design editor Stacy Begg found these plain Russian dolls in a thrift store and gave them a colour-block treatment with paint in her accent colours.
This lumbar cushion adds a more traditional note to the room. “I love chintz,” says Stacy. “It’s my preppy side coming through.”
Unfinished plywood makes an inexpensive tabletop and speaks to the trend toward lighter wood tones for furniture and flooring.
“My goal was to play with texture, colour and pattern,” says associate design editor Morgan Lindsay. Once she settled on a high-gloss navy for the bases and a faux marble treatment for the tops, the rest of the room fell stylishly into place. A whimsical gallery wall – Morgan’s signature touch – breaks up the wave-inspired print of Farrow & Ball’s Aranami wallpaper. While the colour scheme is a study in crisp contrasts, the wooden stump side table injects some natural warmth.
Associate design editor Morgan Lindsay printed out a saying in a font she liked and then covered the letters in gold glitter.
Texture, pattern and eye-catching trim make this grouping of toss cushions pop against the white sofa.
Low-maintenance contact paper mimics the look of marble at a fraction of the price. Navy table bases offer bold contrast.
Crispy chicken tacos.
Try a new take on the traditional Mexican dish for less than $20.
Quick pickle slaw
1 To prepare the quick pickle slaw, place the red and green cabbage, carrot, green onions and cucumbers in a medium bowl. Toss together with the rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar and salt; set aside.
2 To prepare the spicy mayo, stir together the mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl; set aside.
3 To prepare the crispy chicken, cut each chicken thigh into four pieces of roughly the same size. Place the chicken in a bowl and add the garlic, lime juice, ginger and salt, stirring to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour to let the chicken marinate.
4 Place the flour, egg and panko in three separate shallow bowls. Remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge each piece first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the panko to cover completely.
5 In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1" of the vegetable oil to 350°F (it’s best to use a thermometer, but the oil is ready when a panko crumb sizzles and toasts in the hot oil). When the oil is at temperature, add the coated pieces of chicken, six at a time, and fry until golden, turning carefully with tongs until all sides are crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Ensure that the pieces are cooked through by cutting into one and checking that it is no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the oil and place on paper towels to drain while the remaining pieces are cooking.
6 To assemble each taco, pile some of the quick pickle slaw on a tortilla and top with two pieces of crispy chicken. Drizzle with some of the spicy mayo and garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro.
Prep and cook time: 2 hours