Lately I’ve been asked the same question over and over – “Since you have a blog, do you feel pressure to decorate differently every holiday, year after year?” and my answer is “maybe.” But I’d say it’s more like “desire, ” and also “the serious need to shake it up all the time.” It would be like someone wearing the same dress for the Oscars and the Golden Globes. It’s not illegal, but when a lot of people are watching and expecting you to change it up, you kinda want to. Plus, IT’S JUST SO FUN.
Two years ago it was “CRAZY hot pink and navy.” Last year I kept it really simple with blues and woods, all Scandinavian style on a real tree (we didn’t shoot it because I had just had a baby). Meanwhile remember when I did this “only teal and blues” for SFAS and then this crazy hot pink and white christmas I did for Holiday Celebrity Homes? I love color, apparently.
So, this year wanted to do something totally different and more neutral. I pulled it back and practically eliminated all saturated colors, except for the blue that’s in my house and the green from natural greenery. Head on over to for more pics and tips, but meanwhile get ready for a lot of information, friends.
I really wanted it to feel more sophisticated and soft. The holidays can be super chaotic and it really is here, even with just one kid, so instead of throwing more color in our living room, I removed a lot of it. The whole theme of the house is “California Winter Wonderland Glam.” It’s soft and textural with a lot of snow, animals, trees, and whimsy – but in a more neutral way.
First off, I love a real tree, I do. More than a fake white tree, actually . . . BUT, since we had that huge year-round Nek Buddha tree in our living room, I thought that the two trees would compete, like Angelina and Jen, or maybe more Gwyneth and Martha. They would both be beautiful in their own way, but competing for attention and somebody would lose. Either way, visually the room would look a little nuts and probably really heavy.
So instead I brought in Cate Blanchett (in the form of a tree). Angelic, white, soft and muted; peppered with soft copper, rose golds, champagne, rust, gold, silver, and even some sparkly burgundy tones. Cate looks wonderful in burgundy. Besides, I already had one of them (the smaller one).
Here’s how I look at it: I have 2-3 more years (if that) before I’m going to care less about how ‘curated’ and ‘pretty’ our christmas tree is and more about it representing memories through handmade (and often not-so-chic) ornaments from my kids. Obviously I value aesthetics, but I was raised mormon, from a family of 6 kids and I LOVED unearthing the disgusting raw macaroni ornament that I made in first grade every year when we trimmed the tree. If Charlie took a brown clay mold and formed it in the shape of a turd and gave it to me with those glowing, proud, blue eyes I would weep with joy and probably place it on top as the star.
I’m digressing, but the point is for the next few years you might get some curated christmas decor because after that my challenge will be how to bring in real sentimental family ornaments and traditions in the prettiest way possible.
Those bows are just made out of big ribbon that I bought downtown in the craft district. I’m obsessed with that ribbon and wanted to put it EVERYWHERE but it started looking a little too ‘preppy suburban’.
So this year, this christmas I went for “pretty, ” and I just love it. It glows, it shines, it sparkles in such a soft, quiet beautiful way. It’s making a pretty darn good case for neutrals in my life.
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Also, christmas pillows are incredibly underrated. Five years ago if you asked me, “how do you feel about holiday pillows?” I would say, “they are fine but not really my style.” But now, NOW, I actually love having them. Maybe it’s these pillows in particular, maybe it’s because they just work so well in my place, but they really add another layer of festive happiness that I hadn’t accounted for.
Here is my pitch for it – your house will feel more pulled together if you decorate with holiday or even just more seasonal accessories consistently around the room/house rather than just having a tree in your living room and a tablescape in your dining room. If you are against getting anything too specific to the holidays then think about getting cozy cable knit, faux fur or velvet pillows – just accessories that feel festive and cozy. If you want to have a color palette for your tree that is totally different from your living room, that’s great, just bring in some of those colors to other parts of the room to make sure it doesn’t look too disjointed.
Oh, and faux fur. Charlie is obsessed and just aggressively rests and rubs his head on those blankets and giggles in delight. It’s so cute.
| | | | | | | | (used as vase)
Couch: Vintage | White Leather Pouf: Custom | | Piano: Vintage | | | | |
On to the bar. Yes, I got a new piece of furniture (nice job all ya’ll who noticed on insta) and yes, it’s a dresser and I’m fine with it in the living room. It brass and peacock-blue and a whole lot of wonderful. It’s vintage, so sorry that there aren’t more of them. I actually was just renting it from the vintage store to shoot the cover of my book but then it never left. It was $1100, which is WAY more than I usually pay for furniture but it has just been lacquered and it’s so pretty that I couldn’t let it leave.
Meanwhile we donned it up as a bar for the holidays. When we decorated here we were going to have some people over that night so it’s more ‘party ready’ than every day. I love the cotton/batting, and it looks so pretty (as snow, obviously) in the photo, but lets just say keep it away from food and drink.
| Blue Glasses: Vintage | | Decanter: Vintage | Brass Cup: Vintage | Tray: Vintage Copper | | | | | | : Vintage | | |
In fact, lets chat about the batting. A week or so later (last night) I got such clutter body that I removed all the ‘snow’ from the whole house. Clutter body is the disorder, derived from ‘clutter foot’ where you get into a car and there are a lot of random things in the well of the car by your feet but you think you are fine and as you shift and shift and try to get comfortable you realize that you are slowly being driven crazy by the amount of THINGS around your feet, and you all of a sudden are DYING TO GET OUT OF THE CAR!!! – and clutter body is that, but with your whole body. I suffer from it because, well, I also love “things.” It’s like wanting to eat a whole tub of ice cream and watch your figure for that upcoming New Years party at the same time. It’s very difficult.
So last night I got rid of almost all of the snow because it seemed like there wasn’t one surface that was clean. My suggestion to you is to do the snow for a party or for the last week of the holidays, but having it out for a month might be hard.
This drink dispenser was put on top of another glass bowl that I already had. I love the whole look so much.
| Geometric Garland: Target | | | | | |
| | | | Pink Ornaments: Vintage
One of the regrets in my life is not cutting more of that batting on that trunk before we shot it. Jayme took a bunch of hand-held shots at the end (because the tripod can be a bit stifling) and I LOVE this shot, except for the fact that the batting is just dripping on the floor like Halloween. But besides that, it’s really the best way to see tree and the relationship between the living room and the entry.
Naturally, I re-styled my shelves for the holidays. And I actually like the soft colors in there better than before. We put garland on the ironwork which I love (and it smells like christmas unlike our fake tree). I ordered that garland from Mayesh – my favorite flower vendor downtown at the flower market. Its Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, which is so beautiful, drapey and romantic, and smells soooo good. It was $4 a foot, and I ordered 50 feet = $200. I had them break it up into five 10′ lengths. It makes a huge impact but that’s a lot of money for something that will die. But flowers can always be expensive so why would we be surprised. We tied it to the railings with zip-ties.
As a general note on fresh greenery: No, it doesn’t last that long. We bought it on December 1st, and right now (12 days later) it’s DRY and some leaves are falling but I still love it. I think it has another 10 days of life and I’m hoping it will last til after christmas. But, I guess I’d say that if when a garland starts getting dry and loses leaves annoys you then don’t get it til later in the month.
The wreath was just made with champagne tinsel wrapped around a 36″ wreath form and finished it off with a big bow. At first we tried it on the fireplace but it was the exact same color as the stone so it just got so lost. We couldn’t figure out if the ‘double garland’ was too much, what do you guys think?
| Champagne Tinsel Wreath: Handmade | Bottle Brush Trees | |
Onto the dining room. First off, we FINALLY hung some art in there, inspired by this post, but I’m still playing and not convinced its right yet. Meanwhile we hung that beautiful garland on the chandelier, created a tablescape on the table and then turned that back dresser area into a little enchanted forest with white animals and trees.
| Chairs: Vintage | | Lamp: Vintage | | : Custom | | | | | | | | (on chandelier) | | | | |
| | White Bottle Brush Tree| | | | Lamp: Vintage | | | Abstract Art: Vintage |
So there you have it – Our house all decked out for the holidays. It feels just so bright and festive, and makes waking up more fun and then at night when all the lights are on (we strung lights on all trees and the garland) it feels so cozy and happy.
As far as kid-friendly, we have had to remove the two little white trees by the fireplace and then Charlie has slowly removed all ornaments within reach on the trees. Most of them were plastic balls anyway but they have the hooks and the little top piece that seemed like a choking hazard so we aren’t going to put them back for now. Otherwise its fairly kid friendly for now, and he LOVES the lights and sparkles.
Happy Holidays from the Hendersons. Any questions?
To see what the living room looks like when its not “decked to the halls”, click HERE, and in case you missed our holiday s click HERE. You can also learn more about my string art piece HERE, my leather and outdoor fabric sofa HERE, and my massive blimp art piece HERE.
*All photos by the lovely