Psst- Today’s a big day for us. Assuming the bun cooperates, we get to find out what the baby is, and hope to share that news with you guys by Friday. We’re also doing some showhouse kitchen selections and working on the Children’s Hospital, so we’ll be running around, but will try to drop in on comments as often as we can!
But back to the Home Alone house. That was Clara’s quote about decorating the outside of ours for Christmas. She loves “Kevin and Bros” as she calls them (yes, Buzz = Bros to her), and has even picked up that they have a similar type of house to ours – albeit a ton bigger and fancier. So we did some family brainstorming (listened to Clara tell us what we should do) and came up with the following plan:
- wreaths hung in every window with gold ribbon (no other colors were even close to being right according to Miss Clara)
- some lighted garland around the front portico
- plug-in candles in every windowsill like we had in our last house (Clara has always loved those, and we had exactly the right amount, so we just reused ‘em)
- our three little red lanterns full o’ twinkle lights from Ikea a few years ago
real seals with red Santa hats on the roof(this one was Clara’s most imaginative suggestion, but I’m afraid we had to nix it for animal rights reasons)
Here’s where we ended up.
I think my favorite things are the wreaths in every window (they look just as fun from the inside looking out). Or the lighted garland around the portico railing.
Or the red lanterns full of lights with our blue door nearby.
Or catching a glimpse of our still-to-be-decorated Christmas tree through the bay window on the side. Sidenote: I’ve wanted to repaint those white trim pieces that hang down like a sabre tooth tiger for months. Just making those dangly bits the same color as the siding and leaving the trim around the window white will look so much better I think.
The wreaths ended up being an awesome deal, thanks to stacking a few sales, so this, my friends, is how you get eleven 24″ outdoor wreaths that would have been $88, for $53 instead. First of all, they had been marked down to $5.99 (from $7.99) at Michael’s, which meant I couldn’t use any Michael’s coupons that I had (their coupons are usually for full-price merchandise only).
But knowing they match competitor coupons, I quickly googled “JoAnn coupon” while standing in line on my iPhone and they were running a “20% off your entire purchase of holiday decor (including on-sale merchandise)” sale with a coupon that I could get right on my phone. So the sweet lady at the register honored the coupon, and that’s how we got eleven 24″ outdoor wreaths for $4.81 a pop instead of $8.
She also said it was cool to use the coupon towards holiday ribbon, so for another $12 I grabbed three big spools of gold and returned home with everything we’d need to hang these suckers in every window. Or so I thought…
The upstairs windows were pretty simple, it just took a little finagling with the storm window and the screen to get them out of the way so we could crack the window open enough (from the top) to slide the wreath out with the ribbon wrapped around it to hold it up. One tip is to clutch that ribbon like it’s a hundred dolla bill, because it’s annoying to keep dropping wreaths out the window and having to run downstairs to get them.
Once I had said wreath out the window and was holding the end of the ribbon, John just closed the window right on the ribbon (we could pulling it up if we wanted to raise it or let more ribbon hang out the window if we wanted to lower it). Locking the window held it pretty securely, but just in case we also used a thumb tack stuck into the ribbon and the very top of our wooden windowsill for good measure, since we’d seen that mentioned here (it only makes a tiny pinhole at the top of the window where our blinds cover it anyway).
The downstairs windows were a different story (both literally and figuratively). Somehow their extra long storm window panes on top (these windows are taller than the ones upstairs ) didn’t allow for us to stick the wreaths out the top of the window unless we completely removed all of the storm windows, which defeats the purpose of them since it’s cold out these days. So we opted to hang the wreaths from the outside of the house on a ladder for the lower level, instead of using the window to hold them in place.
We didn’t want the ribbon getting pinched or gathered around a plant hook screwed into the top of the window, because the ribbon for the upstairs wreaths looks nice and flat, so we devised these handy little “trapeze things” as we called them, to keep the downstairs ribbon flat like the upstairs stuff.
They were just wooden dowels with two very small holes drilled in each side and some wire strung through them to create a flat little plane for the ribbon to be wrapped around.
Then John could hang that trapeze hook over a plant hook that we had screwed into the side of the window, but the ribbon would still stay flat. To keep everything secure, he stapled the ribbon together to make a loop around the hanging trapeze thing while up on his ladder (that way I could stand back and make sure they were all the same height before he stapled).
See the two subtle staples in the picture above that are holding the ribbon? So far they’ve been up about 4 days without any breakage or ripping, so we think they should hopefully hold up for the season and we have high hopes of reusing them future years too. You know we’ll keep you posted if they all jump off the house or something though (and now I’ll go knock on some wood).
Next up was the garland around the portico. We just swagged it a few ways to see what we liked, and eventually used a few cable ties to keep it all in place once we pinned down our favorite look. We tried going up the peak in the portico, going around each of the pillars, and finally ended up liking it this way the best. Something about the light already coming from the top of the portico (our little porch light) made the garland lights going up that high look like too much upper-action, so keeping them low felt more balanced. And we thought it was nice for them to drape down the steps like this.
Oh and I bought these three strands of lighted garland from Joss & Main for $18 each I think. Not a bad deal, and they all can be plugged into each other to make one long strand, which is nice and convenient.
Then we broke out the candle lights for each window from our old house (we used to have three of them in the side windows since you saw the side of the house a lot from the street) and were so glad to have the right number for this house. Well, not enough for the garage, but the idea of going in and out of the garage to turn them on and off each night sounded annoying, so we opted not to add any more to our count, and just stuck with 9 of them inside.
Finally, out came the old red lanterns from Ikea a few years back, which we filled with lights (one strand per lantern) and just connected them all to each other. Placing them on every other step ended up being our favorite spot for them (we tried them down on the walkway and on either side of the door, but this was the winning placement) and thankfully we had an outlet right on the porch for the garland and the strand of connected lantern string lights, so no blackouts were caused in the making of this holiday scene.
We certainly have seen fancier holiday lighting displays (there are some gorgeous ones in our neighborhood) and we have some pretty elaborate dreams of adding to ours over the years (like decorating that Chirstmas-tree-esque holly on the right corner of the house, and getting a big lighted wreath for the front door), but for now, we’re pretty proud of our first attempt at a holiday display here in this house. One of our neighbors even stopped by to asked me all about the garland and where we got the red lanterns, so that was nice. I might have been a little too into the conversation, but what can I say, I loves me some holiday glow.
I worried it would be kind of ugly during the day without the magic of the lights, but I’m happy to report that it’s not too bad that way either. Sidenote numero dos: Oh how I wish I had pulled that weird doormat at the bottom of the stairs out of the way – I’ve been meaning to put it in the garage after we finally found a wider one for the front door, but somehow it ended up down there.
Are you guys decorating the outside of your house? Who goes all out and follows the roof-line with lights? What about those awesome draped trees that look like weeping willows but they’re just a mass-o-lights. Love that so much.
Alternate title: spending a junkload of money on lights, but feeling pretty good about it.
You guys know we’ve been excited to replace the light fixtures in our kitchen, and, well, the time is now. Decisions have been made. Light fixtures have been bought. And dreams have come true. We’re planning to keep all three of the new lights after our big Phase 2 renovation, so instead of skimping on placeholders we opted to go all-in on three things that we really love – and that we’ll hopefully remain in love with for the long haul. We’d like for all three of the new lights to relate to each other and “play nice” but actually don’t want any of them to match, since they all serve different functions. Each of these three areas call for a different solution, so…
- over the sink we knew we’d like a glass pendant in place of that mini fluorescent (won’t block the view, will gleam when sun shines in, etc)
- for the larger and boxier fluorescent in the middle of the cooking area we knew we wanted a semi-flush mounted shade (the old fixture’s half-assembled here, since we popped off the cover to be sure the wiring was centered – but you can see the full wood-boxed glory here)
- for the area over the table… well, we’ve had our sights set on a certain rope chandelier for a while now
Yes, we had been pining for this large 24 x 24″ rope chandelier for months (how sweet will that look over our weathered wood kitchen table?). So after a lot of hemming and hawing, we just pulled the trigger and shelled out the most we’ve ever spent on a light in the name of love and this forever home of ours.
We originally saw it for $460 here, and then found it for $391 here, and then when it popped up on Joss & Main for $360 with free shipping… well, we figured $100 off was as good as it got. So we clicked “order” and felt pretty excited about going for something we’ve wanted for so long. I hope we’re 101 and still eating omelettes under this thing.
As for over the sink, we thought any glass pendant with oil-rubbed bronze hardware would be awesome – and would easily pair with our attention-grabbing chandelier (we didn’t want anything too busy or colorful over the sink fighting for attention), so one trip to Home Depot turned up our winner:
He was $69 (not sure why it’s only available in silver and $79 online, but they had a “dark bronze” one in our store for $69) and we think it’s just the right amount of dapper but not too demanding.
Then it was down to choosing our semi-flush mount shade, which was by far the biggest challenge. In other words, if this post were a movie, the music montage would start here and you’d see us running into small shops, big box stores, typing away on our laptops, trolling craigslist, etc. There weren’t too many options that were big enough (remember we’re replacing a giant boxy fluorescent light, so a tiny boob lamp won’t do), and although we considered adding can lights, our kitchen is actually nice and bright – it has four windows to the outside world, which is 100% more than our last two kitchens (they both had a single window over the sink that looked into a sunroom). So we liked the idea of a shade to keep things cozy and casual. Here’s what all that searching turned up:
- This 15″ natural shade for $99 (John and I cut a 15″ sheet of paper out and held it up to the ceiling, which immediately looked too tiny… so we kept looking)
- This 17″ shade for $155 from Overstock (this one was a little bigger, but still not as large as we’d like)
- This awesome quatrefoil flush mount one from Circa lighting (it’s $693, so yeah… just for inspiration)
- This nice 17″ caged shade for $239 (it wasn’t any bigger than the second shade, but we did like the hardware around it)
- This bigger 24″ burlap quatrefoil-shaped shade for $130 at a local lighting outlet (the same one with brown trim goes for nearly double that at Shades of Light)
Wanna guess which guy we went with?
Words, words, words.
These words are just here so you can guess and don’t see the next visual.
Even more words.
Wiggedy words and verbs.
I probably gave it away with my descriptions anyway.
Yup, I definitely did.
Poker face Petersik, they call me.
And the winning combo is:
Except of course the scale is all off. The shade is actually 24″ wide, as is the big rope chandelier for over the table, but the chandelier hangs down a lot more, so it gets to be the star while the quatrefoil pendant will hopefully add some warmth and interest while balancing the other side of the room (and the glass pendant over the sink will add a nice soft glow by the window). Here’s a shot of it in the store where we saw it. Ours is the one on top of the stack since we thought the color would tie into the rope chandelier nicely.
Oh man, I hope they look good when they’re actually hanging up. Just have some ceiling patching and painting to do, along with a little electrical tweaking, and it’s GO TIME, BABY.
Psst- A few folks were asking on Instagram for some specific info about how we introduced Burger to Clara, and how we tried to make the whole transition from living with a dog to living with a dog and a baby as smooth as possible for all parties involved – so we’re over on Young House Life chatting about that today.