Cindy Blackenburg's family room is decorated for Christmas
The family room’s neutral color palette is an ideal backdrop for the colorful Christmas décor. A silver tray holds a grouping of holiday items, including a terrarium full of bottle brush trees, a French statue if the holy family and an arrangement of fresh flowers

Christmas is a time of celebration and family, so avoid the stress and make decorating your home simple and effective. For this French country home in Aurora, Missouri, homeowner Cindy Blackenburg of the blog Edith and Evelyn Vintage uses natural elements and dresses up her year-round décor to create the spirit of Christmas. “I don’t purchase a lot for Christmas,” she says. “I use what I already have.” The result is both simple and elegant—the perfect Christmas combination.

French Fantastique

Many of Cindy’s antique and vintage collections originate from France, giving her home a romantic, French feel during Christmas. “I’ve always collected old religious antiques and nativity sheep, and I use them in my Christmas vignettes throughout the house,” says Cindy.

The wrought iron staircase in the foyer is decorated with greenery, tied with gold ribbons and topped with ornaments.

In the family room, an old repainted French provincial cabinet is filled with Cindy’s collection of French religious statues, including Jesus, lambs and sheep. Rather than remove her collection during the holidays, Cindy incorporates a wreath and moss balls into the display to give it a festive look.

The foyer holds a large statue of an angel that came from a church in St. Louis. She is also a year-round piece, but Cindy gives her a long candlestick to hold and places a crown on her head during the holidays. “She was missing her wings at the auction, but my husband found a company that sold metal wings and fixed them to her back,” says Cindy.

Her sheep can be found in almost every vignette of the house, including the birdbath-turned-manger for the baby Jesus in the foyer, where they can be seen among the clippings of evergreen.

A simple faux garland lines the headboard in the master bedroom, and an architectural crown rests on the side table. Vintage mirrors hand on the wall to emulate the arch of the headboard.
Hydrangea blossoms mingle in the pine tree’s branches with fluffy faux snow and glittery vintage baubles.

Outdoor Décor

Another key component to Cindy’s look is her use of natural elements in her holiday setup. She incorporates pinecones, dried hydrangeas, moss balls and evergreen clippings into every room of the house to spread Christmas cheer without breaking the bank. “I love to go to home improvement stores,” says Cindy. “They give out evergreen clippings to make wreaths and garlands.” With this simple trick, she can hang greenery from mirrors and several surfaces, often adding lights for a festive look.

This idea also extends to the Christmas trees throughout the home. It was said in Cindy’s family that if you found a tree with a bird’s nest, it would bring you luck for the following year. “I never have a Christmas tree where there’s not a bird’s nest tucked in there,” she says.

Traditional Meets Contemporary

Though the trees have similar natural elements, they vary in color palette from room to room. “I stay pretty neutral with blues, lavender and pale sage green in my home,” says Cindy. This allows her to have a red and green tree palette in one room and a gold and pastel palette in another.

Her tree in the family room is filled with red and gold ornaments, and a plaid ribbon bow tops it off. “We had a huge basket of really large pinecones, so we stuck them in with the ornaments,” says Cindy. The flocked tree in the master bedroom, however, has a wintry look, with dried hydrangeas, gold ornaments and sparkly snowflakes. To keep the trees as focal points, Cindy kept the presents neutral, using white boxes and ribbon that matches the tree they’re under.

 

Cindy made a large paid bow for her tree topper and tied the gifts below with the same ribbon to coordinate.

Cindy’s tips for achieving a simple yet elegant Christmas interior.

  • Steal stuff from your yard. Depending on where you live, you may have an abundance of Christmas décor right outside your door. “Go to the woods and gather up natural elements, like dried flowers and branches,” says Cindy.
  • Shop home improvement stores. Most stores will hand out free evergreen clippings that you can use on your mantel, staircase or mirrors.
  • Elevate what you already have. Instead of hitting the stores right away, see what you can do to dress up your current décor pieces. Adding small accents like candles, wreaths and bottlebrush trees will be a less time-consuming and more cost-effective way to decorate for Christmas than buying all new festive décor.