I love Christmas, and this year i’m even more excited than usual as we get to host my parents and some of our friends at our house for Christmas dinner.
Minnesota is a magical place to be over the Christmas holidays, it reminds me of Narnia with the snow covered pine trees, it’s beautiful. But Christmas is also a time for family, and being ex-pats we mostly travel back to the UK to be with our family. The drawback is, we miss our furry family! Our two Cockapoos Molly and Phoebe, have to stay with dog sitters, and we miss them dearly. So this year we get to enjoy a cozy Christmas together.
This year, I moved away from my usual red and white Scandinavian style Christmas decorations, and opted instead for a palette of white and champagne gold with natural tones such as bark and greenery.
I felt the color scheme better suited the newly renovated dining and kitchen area, which is neutral in color.
I recycled some champagne gold feather tree decorations I bought from Hobby Lobby a few years ago as place setting decorations. And bought some new linen napkins with a slight sparkle to them from Home Goods. The charger plates I found through Facebook Marketplace.
We re-used the white box planter we made a few years ago, and just swapped out the red berries for champagne gold berries, and added a few white Poinsettias.
The tree has lots of sparkle from the champagne gold balls, but also plenty of natural tones from the woodland animals and pine cones.
I added champagne gold and white berries to a plain garland to decorate the new staircase banister.
I hope you enjoyed the home tour. Happy holidays! And happy decorating!
The subject of today’s blog is along the theme of ‘continuous improvement’. It’s a term we regularly use at work in a quality / lean process sort of a way, to signify the journey towards being world class in something. Never stopping with being satisfied with what you did today, and always striving to do better. It seemed like the perfect title for the design journey I’ve been on over the past few years.
The entrance hallway in our house is the perfect example of how skills evolve, and admitting that sometimes you don’t get it right the first time.
This is our hallway when we first moved into our 1969-built Prairie Style Minnesotan home. It was very beige, and very dated.
I set about renovating it to make it feel more like a modern cabin (as we live in the woods.) I tried to make it feel rustic with the use of the aged wood wall partition that we made, and the antler chandelier. To give it a modern twist, I added faux taxidermy in white only on the gallery wall.
To give it more of a British hunting lodge / country feel, I opted for flagstone style flooring, and added things like the antique umbrella stand and horse bit artwork. We gave the wall a gold paint effect finish to add some richness and the traditional feel.
But it felt dark…
After living in the house for 4 years now, I’ve come to realize that living in the middle of the woods, with such heavy tree coverage, that the only time the house is ever bright inside is during the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. So the decoration inside has to account for this lack of natural light.
The other thing I’ve noticed whilst living in the US, is the growing trend for light, bright and airy spaces. Practically every new-build and renovated home has white-painted trim. The spaces are made bright from large white windows and white or light grey walls. Any wood is generally kept natural, such as natural white oak.
After living here for a while now, my tastes have evolved to the more contemporary side, so we set about with renovation No.2 to our hallway…
We removed the aged-wood partition wall we made, as we felt it made the space darker, and the dark wood made it feel a little dated. We opted instead for a more open half wall, which we painted in white and grey to match the new open-plan kitchen / dining room. And changed all the floors for natural white oak.
The biggest change was to the feature wall. Now when you enter the house, you’re met with a wall of white split-face marble, which adds depth and texture to the room, whilst still being bright, and yet at the same time, rustic.
I had to keep the antler chandelier, it’s the little nod to the modern hunting lodge theme we were originally trying to achieve. I think now we’ve actually managed to achieve it. By keeping the colors light and limited, and introducing interest through texture, and pops of natural wood colors.
I’m the first to admit that my first attempt at ‘modern cabin’ was not that successful. But with a few more years of experience of both living in this house, in the US and having completed many more renovation projects, I can gladly say my skills have improved for the better.
To quote Lloyd Dobyns:
“Continual improvement is an unending journey.”
Thanks for reading, until next time.
Jo (aka Britflipper and continuous improvement seeker)
Since moving to the U.S. I’ve fallen in love with Restoration Hardware. Every time I see one of their images online or walk into one of their stores it warms my heart. I know, a big reaction, but to me this is perfect design, just like when you see a beautiful natural view or an impressive painting.
So I tried to put my finger on why I love it so much, and to figure out how I could recreate that look. Here’s how I deconstructed it…
I noticed that in all the images I loved, everything was symmetrical. I learned that symmetry in a design gives a feeling of formality and grandeur. So pro tip, arrange your furniture around a central feature and make sure everything mirrors.
I also began to notice that everything is very monotone in color, I.E. everything is of the same tone. They tend to use darker colors on the walls, a warm grey / brown. This helps to create a cozy atmosphere and makes the lighter furniture stand out.
Although there’s no color in the fabrics, furniture or wall color, they add hints of green with the use of plants. Simple topiaries or maybe a white a orchid, which also adds to the classic feel.
Mixing old and new:
Restoration Hardware are expert at mixing old and new. Through classically designed tufted sofas, French casement cabinets and balustrade coffee tables. And even in their artwork, with prints of classical architecture and old maps. They juxtapose this against modern simple lines for a perfect balance of richness and interest in the design. So my fourth pro tip is to mix old and new. Try a modern coffee table and a tufted sofa to recreate this look.
Restoration Hardware have some impressive light fixtures and accessories. They add interest in what could otherwise be a drab room, by using mirrors, crystal chandeliers and tall lamps. This is like adding the jewelry to a simple and classic outfit. It has the ability to completely change the look of the room. So instead of adding a plain light fixture, chose one with a bit of sparkle to elevate the room to the next level.
I hope these tips have helped you figure out how to get this look in your own home. If like me, you don’t have a Restoration Hardware sized budget, you might want to read my next blog to see how I re-created this look for less: ‘How to get the Restoration Hardware look for less.’