As some of you may have seen on Instagram, our home was featured as one of the homes on our neighborhood’s holiday home tour this past weekend. Many of you have asked us to share photos of our house all decked out for the holidays, and now that the official tour is over, I am here to do just that. Putting our home on a holiday home tour has been a learning curve and one that has certainly taught us a great deal. Let’s dive in. Here are five takeaways from the holiday home tour followed by all the photos to show you how we decorated this year.
ONE. Hands down, one of the greatest rewards of having our home on the holiday home tour was having the opportunity to share our home with people from all facets of our lives. Among the people who came to see our home were coworkers, Instagram followers, current and former students of mine, our realtor, people from our neighborhood, and so many more. There is something really special about sharing a space that is so personal to you with those who have played or continue to play important roles in your life. It’s hard to put into words, but is something we definitely felt grateful for in the midst of the actual tour.
TWO. Unless you are super easy going and relaxed, opening up your home to several hundred people is not for the faint of heart. I am a germaphobe and was super concerned about how I would feel with that many people coming through our home with their shoes at a time of year where colds are rampant. In the end, I had so much fun chatting with all the wonderful people who came through, I honestly forgot about all the germs completely. On top of this, as stylist and designers ourselves, we are super picky about the way we showcase our home which led to WEEKS (over six to be precise) of late nights of work every. single. night. We literally stayed up until after midnight for roughly six weeks calking, scraping, priming, painting, nailing, reupholstering, etc. The tasks were never ending. Obviously, we understand it was completely our decision to knock our a full dining room and side foyer renovation in six weeks, but that doesn’t mean that it has been easy. In the end, this pressure we felt turned out to be a good thing as I discuss in my final takeaway.
THREE. Design matters. We received so many wonderful and kind compliments about the design of our home and are thankful for every comment we received. One of the biggest phrases we heard all night was “this makes me feel…” often followed by adjectives along the lines of happy, comfortable, or even sophisticated. Design has the incredible ability to make us feel something and can make a huge difference in the way we feel on a day to day basis. Even the smallest investments in design can make an impact in your own space.
FOUR. Planning ahead makes a world of difference. Amber and I are both major planner’s (as you may have seen in my dot journal of holiday home tour to-do’s on my stories on Instagram), and we could not have executed all we did from six weeks out up until the second the first guest knocked on our front door without some serious, methodical planning. Planning turned out to be our saving grace in those inevitable moments of stress. Keeping lists let us know what we needed to do at any given moment and kept us relatively calm in the midst of chaos. I am a firm believer that making lists and writing things down frees up valuable head space and memory to optimally use your brain for immediate tasks at hand. It’s easy to think you will plan later or simply remember everything you have to do. In the moment, you won’t. Make lists and sit down before the process starts to come up with a methodical step-by-step plan. Even if you end up straying from the exact plan, it will save you your sanity.
FIVE. Knowing that many people are going to walk through and hopefully enjoy your home is a MAJOR motivator to knock out some of those projects, big and small, you had every intention of knocking out but haven’t gotten around to. Obviously, our biggest project we knocked out was our dining room renovation. With larger scale projects like this, I usually do not like to pull an entire design together and execute in this short amount of time as I think it CAN lead to sloppiness and a room with regrets. In our case, we had a design idea and plans for months before we began. We also still have plenty of finishing touches, art, lamps, lampshades, etc. that we can slowly consider and add in as we live with the space for a bit. For this specific takeaway, I was actually elated by all the small things we were “forced” to address that we have been putting off. We changed outlet covers to match others, added them where they did not exist for the past year (yikes!), planted the remainder of our spring bulbs, organized cords behind our television, bought doormats, refinished our baseboards upstairs, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, our house received a deep, thorough cleaning, and who doesn’t love a clean home this time of year heading into the new year?
How We Decorated
For the design of the space, we actually created a plan (did someone say we like to plan!?) for all the sights, scents, and sounds in each room on the home tour. For the sights, we wanted to keep that classic Christmas feel with lots of reds and greens with pops of blue throughout. Though everyone has a different approach, we thought why not create an experience that you don’t have every day for the people willing to buy tickets to attend a home tour? As a photographer, I tend to look at space differently, always imagining how it will look on camera and therefore decided to pick one “wow” moment in every room where the eye can rest and focus.
For the scents, we wanted them to fit with the classic Christmas feel and to not overpower the space. We also wanted them to be fairly easy on the senses as heavily fragranced or perfumed candles can flair up people’s allergies, asthma, and even cause headaches. With that said, we went with this candle downstairs and this candle upstairs, both from Brooklyn Candle Company. We love these candles because of their strong but clean scent. They are soy candles that burn cleanly and are some of the only candles that don’t make me congested.
For the sounds, we actually ran out of time to create a custom playlist but found this jewel called “Holiday Cocktail Party” on Apple Music and got so many compliments from people about it asking how we created it. We highly recommend it as it is upbeat, casual, and not too “in-your-face.” We had this playlist streaming through our music system in our living room throughout the tour, turned down soft enough for people to chat but loud enough to carry through some of the adjacent rooms as well as upstairs.
This type of planning would certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoyed the process and pulling together something on this scale. Watching this master plan unfold was so rewarding.
Enough chatting. Now for the pictures. Welcome to our home for the holidays!
We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with cheer, laughter, and joy!