Friday, December 23, 2011

O Christmas Tree

This time last year, when our house was just framed, I dreamed about Christmas 2011.  I planned to go all out with the decorations during our first Christmas in the new house.  However, that did not really happen.  Because the kids' Christmas vacation ended up being very long this year, we decided to spend a week in Colorado before Christmas.  The holiday party we had planned for the Atlanta office of my husband's company fell through and was rescheduled to January, so I did not have the pressure of entertaining to get things in order.  I did buy some wreaths and place them on the windows, as noted in my blog post from early December, but other than that our decor is decidedly low key this year.

People have told me that the first Christmas in a new house is a challenge in many ways. All of the ornaments and decorations were packed up for the move, and sometimes it is difficult to locate the favorite items. The chests and consoles where I typically displayed some of my favorite decorations have been sold or moved to different locations in the house, and no longer work.  On top of that, I seem to have a lack of surfaces on the main floor of the house as we are still working on filling out the decor.

A glimpse of the mantel - I am a bit embarrassed that I have not done anything to spruce it up!

Even the new fireplace was a challenge - my old mantel was wood, and we discretely placed nails under the molding for the stockings to be hung. The living room fireplace in the new house has an antique limestone mantel, so I purchased some metal stocking hangers that have a weight that rests on the mantel.  They really should be covered with greenery. Maybe next year!  I am assuming that after Santa comes, the stockings will have to rest on the floor as a full stocking would be a risky proposition on those weighted hooks.

Tough to capture in the daylight (sorry for the glare) - but here is the tree!  We bought it the day after Thanksgiving, so it is getting  a  bit droopy.  It's nice to have a tree in the living room as it is quite bare - the Beauvais rug that we ordered is being custom made, and won't be ready until the spring.  Furniture will be ordered later in the year.

One key element that I always insist upon, however, is the Christmas tree. Because we knew that we would be gone the week before Christmas, and wanted to enjoy the tree for as much of the month as possible, we purchased the tree the day after Thanksgiving - very early for us.  It was nice to have the tree fully decorated by December 1st!  We always knew that the tree would go in the living room, which right now only contains a grand piano and a Christmas tree - the living room decor will come together at a later point.  The tall 11'6" ceilings called for a large tree this year, although disappointingly the tree we selected ended up having very little pine fragrance.  We have had to supplement with a Thames frasier fir diffuser, which has an amazing scent and gives the house that fresh cut tree smell.

I am not one to have a color coordinated or theme oriented tree.  Perhaps because the Christmas trees of my childhood were always colorful, our lights are always the multi-color type (we tried a white light tree one year and it just did not resonate with us).  A brighly lit star is always placed at the top of the tree (a bit of an homage to the 1970s and 1980s trees that were part of my childhood).

My mother-in-law needlepoints an ornament for each member of the family every year; a wonderful holiday tradition, and our most cherished ornaments.  This is the 2011 ornament for my youngest daugher Sarah. Her name and the year are stitched on the back.
The ornaments are varied - from the handmade school ornaments, which sadly are fewer now that my oldest is in junior high, to the cherished needlepoint ornaments that my mother-in-law hand crafts and sews for each member of the family every year.

The handpainted glass ornament on the upper right was a gift from my mother to my oldest daughter.

There are the favorite ornaments that have been collected through the years, and sentimental favorites, such as the beautiful hand painted ornament that my mother gave to my oldest daughter, her first grandchild, the year before my mother died.  We have so many ornaments that I could not even fit all of them on a 10 foot plus tree, so we are planning on getting two trees next year!  By then, we will be more settled in, and hopefully more of my traditional Christmas decor will be unpacked and ready to display.

While taking pictures this morning, I noticed that our elf  'Allie' had hidden in the tree overnight.  

Ben the dog likes to nap near the tree.  Doesn't he match the floors beautifully? During the shedding season, this is a good thing!

May the blessings of the season be with you and yours, and best wishes for a wonderful 2012!

P.S.: Brand new Melissa Payne Baker paintings just added to the Quatrefoil Design store - beautiful nests, landscapes, angels, and itty bitties galore! Click here or visit http://www.quatrefoildesign.bigcartel.com/artist/melissa-payne-baker.

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  1. My favorite Christmas decor is very natural and warm - I love a tree that reflects the family and the children. Thanks for the peak into your family's first Christmas in your beautiful new home!

  2. I love your tree, perfect height! I do personal, collected ornaments on mine too. Your floors are fabulous, by the way, and so is the cute dog!

  3. Pretty, pretty, pretty! I love the natural oak herringbone floors. Seems a shame to cover them up with a carpet!

    Merry Christmas, Holly!

  4. Beautiful and love the glimpse into your home! We too have a collected tree, not a "designed" one and those are my favorite kind! I received an ornament from my grandmother every year while growing up and those are some of my favorite ones. . . so fun to unpack them and remember the history.

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  5. Merry Christmas Holly - you are off to a lovely start with that big tree and that stunning space. I never understood those lightweight mantel hooks - useful only when stockings are empty. My mother always did the same - used nails on the wooden mantel. What to do with the stone? Hmm.

    You will get things sorted eventually. It took me about 4 years before I was settled in this house. With work or kids, there just isn't time to organize everything and I find it takes a while to find the rhythms of a new house, where is the best place for everything, etc.

    I can't wait to see the furniture, that rug, the decor. I know it will be exquisite.

    Merry Christmas! With a name like yours, do you also have a birthday this time of year? If so, happy day!

    xo Terri

  6. I think it all looks beautiful Holly and to me, the real spirit in Christmas is found in peoples hearts over how beautiful the decorations might be....and I love what you have done, your colorful tree is at once elegant and so inviting and warm. I was hoping to have been in our new home but it didnt' work out that way so I decided I could mope and be miserable or make the best of it and create a festive atmosphere and make the best of things, and I am glad I did.....loving how things are looking so far. May this be the first of many many joyous and happy holidays spent in your beautiful new home!

  7. You will need self balancing stocking hooks like these for your stone mantel: http://www.finehomedisplays.com/proddetail.asp?prod=MH-F-5vwi. I have no affiliation with this site. I am sure others sell these too. They will hold several pounds.

  8. It's beautiful. What more does a living room need to look like home? Just thinking about high-altitude decorating 11 feet off the floor is making me a little woozy. Our stocking hit the floor when Santa comes but I'm liking Meg's hook suggestion. We are also a polychrome light family.

    Merry Christmas to all the TTI loved ones. Thanks for being so helpful and kind to me over the last few years.

  9. *** CONGRATULATIONS Holly, on your FIRST CHRISTMAS in your beautiful new home!!! What a Christmas present!!!

    Sending warmest wishes & blessings from Arizona, for a wonderful celebration of His birth...

    Linda in AZ *

  10. Thanks for the lovely post. I've been following your blog for sometime now. First time commenting...

    Your home reminds me of our first Christmas, we built 6 years ago. No paint, nothing hung over the mantel. Now, 6 years later, mostly everything has been "filled in". Just did a similar post yesterday on my blog. Now, I want to edit; less paint color, less pattern. It's my design goal for 2012. I enjoyed your serene Christmas.. it's peaceful. And, your dog seems to find it peaceful too!

    Merry Christmas!

    Sandy Muraca

  11. Your tree is gorgeous! What color did you paint that room? I love it!

  12. Oftentimes, simpler is much better. It looks lovely..... oh, and your floors.... amazing!! Merry Christmas!

  13. It's stunning. The rest will come! All in good time . . . In my pre-kids life as a designer, I always said the last lap of the race was by far the most difficult, but produced the greatest results! CAN. NOT. WAIT. To see more of your lovely home! Merry, merry Christmas!

  14. Looks great! May I ask what color paint you used? It's such a pretty neutral color. Congratulations on your new home.

  15. Thank you for the comments, everyone!

    The paint on the walls is Benjamin Moore elephant tusk, which is a beautiful rich neutral - but still light toned.

  16. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Your tree is beautiful, Holly.
    I know this will be the first of many memorable Holidays you spend in your home.
    Steve and I wish you a very Happy New Year.


  17. Merry Christmas--the tree, the floors, the mantel and the dog are all perfect--nothing more seems to be needed this year. Blessings. Mary

  18. What a gorgeous tree! Happy holidays! Kellie xx

  19. Wishing you a Very Happy year 2012. Thank you so much for the beautiful personal post on your Christmas tree, you truly are an inspiration.


  20. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Love seeing the elegant Gossip Girl sconces in their new home. Look forward to seeing more of your beautiful new home.

  21. We had an angel and not a star on the tree growing up, as I recall!


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