I was so excited when Pamela asked me to be part of the Christmas edition of this series because I love Christmas and Christmas decorating.
Since I was a child I have looked forward each year to the Christmas season with such anticipation, and I think that is what drives my style. My style -- is pure vintage Americana with little sprinkles of European thrown in here and there. I'm very passionate about supporting American made products -- old and new -- and prefer an old rusty original to a cheap foreign-made copy.
Vintage starts in our home with a 1958 Currier and Ives calendar, which rings in the month of December. When I realized old calendars would still work for the appropriate year, I started collecting them to use. 2014 is a match for 1958, so when I found this pristine complete calendar, I couldn't resist.
After I graduated from college and moved away, I had a pretty neutral decorating palate and that carried over into my Christmas decor. I used clear lights, white poinsettias and lots of greenery. But, it never felt like Christmas to me, so I couldn't wait to get home where familiar childhood colors, smells and festivity awaited. In the late 1990s, when I started using more color, I toyed with the idea of colored lights, but I didn't like the mini lights at the time. I then found mini lights with colored covers that looked like the old C7s, but were a little smaller and didn't burn so hot. I was so noncommittal, though, I also put clear lights on the tree so if I didn't like it I could only use clear. I loved them, though, and have used colored lights on the main tree ever since -- even the past couple years when I accented with pink.
This year, I brought back my Turkish rugs and knew I would bring back the red for Christmas to go with them. I also wanted to bring back tartan into my decor and that jump started the design.
I prefer to use vintage American-made or post-war Japanese-made along with collected European items in my Christmas home. My love of vintage is really focused around the 1950s and the romantic dream I have in my head about what America must have been like after World War II. I love listening to my parents tell me about their childhood Christmases and I enjoy incorporating their memories into our home.
The yule log my dad made for my mother takes center stage on the dining table surrounded by nandina berries, juniper and pine cones.
Several years ago, my husband and children made snowflakes from white paper and those have become really special to me. They hang above the buffet and on the tree.
I made my own "Putz" version of the house my dad grew up in here on the property, complete with lights for night time. That house has influenced my style and love of vintage more than anything.
I bring out vintage Currier and Ives dinnerware for the entire winter because it is a favorite of mine. These platters hang on a door from the old house.
My 8-year-old son and I dug up the Balsam tree on the property after hiking through the snow and failing to find a Hemlock tree. I like a quirky tree with personality.
I bought new color LED "C-7" lights this year, and as much as I love the low-energy consumption aspect, they just don't have the "glow" the old ones had.
I have used crocheted and paper snowflakes, vintage Shiny Brites, and glass ornaments I bought in Germany.
We don't have a lot of space for a tree, so this one is snuggled in a galvanized wash tub between my great grandmother's chaise and an antique chair from a relative.
Along with vintage, I love to use natural elements from the property. Fresh cypress, juniper, balsam and boxwood, mingle with nandina berries.
I was surprised on my birthday this year with this antique Harden mission-style settle that had belonged to my great grandfather. It was given away out of the old house, and gifted back to me from a sweet neighbor. It is just perfect here in the music room/entry draped with my grandmother's leopard coat:-)
The antique Chinese ancestors and the 1886 Smith American organ were passed down by a relative. What is better than a Christmas carol played on a pump organ?
My mother brought the candelabra back from Lebanon on a trip at Christmas time in 1974.
I love having a tree in this spot, and this hemlock is another one my 8 year old helped me dig up. It is decorated with snowflakes I cut from sheet music, popcorn, cinnamon ornaments the children made, vintage Shiny Brite ornaments and Russian Santa wood ornaments I bought in Germany.
The kitchen is truly the gathering place for us and it is very festive in reds, greens and blues this year.
My grandmother's apron hangs by the sink alongside a French tea towel from a blogger in France, and a feedsack towel. The blue color on the walls is a color from the old house here.
My most cherished Christmas decoration is definitely the vintage Commodore candy cane and Holt Howard "spaghetti" angel candle holders that belonged to my grandmother. They always sat on her dining room window sill, and I remember standing there at the cold, snowy window admiring them.
This year I tried my hand at making gingerbread, and luckily for me, my niece, a very talented cake decorator, was here at Thanksgiving to decorate it for me.
We also decorated some cookies with the children.
My mother recently gave me my grandmother's little Santa salt and pepper shakers.
The sleigh, missing its reindeer, is from my childhood and is grouped with a plastic Santa belonging to my grandmother, bottle brush trees and a blue Mason jar filled with Shiny Brites and "snow." This little vignette really symbolizes vintage American Christmas for me.
No Christmas would be complete without the amazing fruitcakes my mother makes. If you don't like fruitcake, it's only because you haven't had hers. They truly are amazing and a serious tradition in our home.
I am all about the quirky tree, and here, a hemlock branch sitting in a vintage vinegar bottle is trimmed with Shiny Brites.
Another of my grandmother's Christmas aprons hangs on the old screen door.
I found this little deer in the smokehouse on the property here and fell in love. I assumed it was used at my grandfather's store for some kind of display, but found out after posting the photos that my mom actually made it in Bible School about 60 years ago! I accessorized it with another vintage Santa, a wooden ornament and vintage Prince Albert cans. Granddaddy's basket holds Balsam cuttings and pine cones.
The vintage Americana theme continues throughout the house and into the master bedroom.
The mantel, attached to an old door, is dressed with juniper, nandina berries and pine cones and accessorized with my grandmother's vintage Shiny Brite nativity and aqua mirror, as well as an antique Kerosene heater, yule log my grandfather made and my great grandmother's chair.
The antique iron bed I restored is dressed in chenille, tartan and ticking for winter.
My dad's vintage Ansco camera is ready for Christmas morning.
Vintage Christmas cards, some from my childhood, hang in vintage metal frames a neighbor gave me.
Outside I try to reflect my love of vintage and my love for the beautiful mountains here in North Carolina. My grandmother always tied red ribbons on bunches of Balsam and white pine, so I do the same and use them in various spots.
Faux wreathes are a great base for fresh greens, and when the season is over, I will just pull out the dead stems and pack the wreathes away.
After all that, I have to say I'm probably not the person to offer tips for a stress-free holiday season! Seriously, though, planning is the key. I plan all year long and think about what might work and what direction I want to go. I get inspired by different things I find throughout the year then put them all together in my head. I try to get everything done, or mostly done the weekend after Thanksgiving so we can all relax and enjoy a festive holiday home throughout the season. Our home is definitely a refuge from all the hustle and bustle, and we enjoy spending family time watching old Christmas DVDs or playing music.
I have to offer a huge thanks to Pamela for letting me share my vintage American Christmas with you all!
My best wishes for a beautiful and blessed Christmas season.