How to Preserve Your Christmas Collectibles

Learn how to avoid a broken collectible and a broken heart with these tips on preservation.


Don’t let all the time you’ve invested into piecing together the perfect Christmas tree or dining set go into shambles…literally. Treat your decor and ornaments like the precious pieces they are to avoid a tree or table boasting scratches and chips—especially if the pieces are vintage.

Diane Sedo, a featured Romantic Homes stylist and photographer, gave us her tips on how to preserve and store your holiday decor so they’re just as bright, glittery or shiny—and most importantly, in-tact—next year.

Santa punch bowl


  • To prevent scratches, always remove the metal hooks from ornaments and store them in a resealable storage bag.
  • Dust your ornaments with a feather duster or soft artist’s brush.


  • “I store components of vignettes together so I don’t have to search through boxes to put them together again,” Diane said.
  • “Store like ornaments together. I label the containers to identify the category of items such as glass, fabric or plastic.”
  • “I store my ornaments in sturdy boxes with several layers of divided compartments. Storage and organization stores sell a large variety of storage boxes made specifically for holiday decorations. I individually wrap fragile ornaments in acid-free tissue before packing them away.”
  • “Vintage hatboxes are perfect for large or odd-size pieces. When I can, I store each piece in its original box,  but that’s not always possible. Egg cartons and plastic containers protect fragile pieces. I store them in a hall or bedroom closet where there is no drastic change in temperature or moisture like in an attic, basement or garage.”

Share with us your tips!

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Create a Holiday Haven This Christmas

Take a break this busy season in space decorated just for you.

A beautiful attic room is decked out for the holidays in white, aqua and pastels.
As the days grow shorter and colder, having a comfy chair next to a sunny window can provide a lovely place to warm your toes and your heart. As evening approaches, the glow of the tree twinkling along with the stars marks the end of each full day.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is blowing in like a cold winter’s breeze. There is so much to do in a short window of time.

Christmas presents wrapped in silver and gold paper with pastel bows and ornament gift toppers
Contrary to popular believe, wrapping presents can be fun and inexpensive. Use mix-and-match papers and add ribbons in cheerful colors; then add a special touch like a small ornament to the package.

For many people the holidays pass so quickly and with so much chaos that the enjoyment is all but lost. Why not try a new approach this year?

Take time to find joy in each and every day. Planning is a big part of making the process more enjoyable and less stressful.

Slowing down does not mean accomplishing less. It allows time for reflection and peace during a season that never seems to stop.

One homeowner has carved out a peaceful spot in her home, a holiday haven where she can plan for the upcoming holiday events as well as take in all the season has to offer.

A white artificial tree with pink and aqua ornaments sits near a white writing desk.
A diminutive antique writing desk is hiding in the corner behind the tree. It is a quaint spot to sit and write holiday greetings to friends and family.

There must be a place in your home where you find peaceful solitude. This cottage-style home has a small sitting room tucked into the top floor of the house beneath the sloping roof. This space may be small in size, but it has an abundance of character.

A few select furnishings were needed to fill the space. Mix-and-match thrift shop finds were brought together to make the suite complete: a down-filled wingback chair, a small antique desk, a loveseat and a coffee table. This sitting room doubles as a makeshift library, with gardening books stacked all about as part of the delightful décor.

Check Your Lists Twice in this Holiday Haven

It is common practice in this home to decorate the sitting room first, long before the holiday festivities ever begin.

A collection of vintage ornaments in pastel colors.
Collecting vintage ornaments is a year long affair. Scour thrift shops, garage sales and auctions for wonderful old beauties. The variety is simply mind- boggling. 

Transitioning into the holiday season can feel like a burden when life is already hectic. But decorating this small and personal room first helps the family get into the holiday spirit.

This cozy sitting room provides a great place to plan out the hectic months ahead, and it also is the perfect spot to sit and reflect at the end of each day.

One easy way to make a plan is to create a schedule.

First, mark the calendar with important dates and events. Then fill the days with things that bring joy: making wreaths, baking cookies and reading Christmas stories.

As each day passes, retreat to your cozy corner to reflect on the day and look ahead to what tomorrow’s schedule holds.

Decorating with a Purpose

Decorate your home with enthusiasm and purpose this holiday season.

First look for inspiration. Get motivated and find a cozy corner you can dress in festive fashion.

Vintage holiday verse books
Holiday ephemera are not only fun to collect for their inherent beauty, but old pieces like books filled with holiday adventures are delightful to read throughout the season. Reading a story or two can be a tremendous source of holiday inspiration.

Next, make a schedule by filling a calendar with everything you hope to accomplish in the months to come.

Lastly, find a few moments at the end of each day to sit and reflect in the glow of the holiday’s twinkling lights.

Fill your home to the rafters with holiday décor that makes you smile. Enjoy the season to the fullest and make it your own by surrounding yourself with delight. The joy will be contagious, so don’t hesitate to share.










Delft Pottery: The Dutch Version of Chinese Porcelain

Delft blue and white pottery is a beautiful and collectible addition to your home decor.

Do you admire Chinese porcelain, but scared it will clash with your country cottage? The Asian pottery’s European cousin might be the answer to that empty fireplace mantel begging to be decorated. Delft pottery, also known as Delfts Blauw, is the Dutch successor of China’s iconic blue and white porcelain.

Blue and White Dutch Pottery
Instead of porcelain, Dutch Pottery was manufactured from earthenware clay.

A Treasure Brought from Overseas

Europe fell in love with the porcelain coming in from China when the Dutch East India Company began to import it. Dutch potters decided to mimic the pottery beginning in the 16th century, but swapped the porcelain material for a less expensive clay called earthenware.

A colorful version of Delftware was also produced that featured muffled reds, greens and yellows; the enamels were labeled polychrome Delft. The Delft Blue and Makkum earthenware were shaped into urns, decorative plates and vases that featured hand painted art. Instead of dragons, cranes and Chinese architecture, the Dutch painted florals, birds and Dutch scenery for a more European touch.

Colorful Dutch Pottery
The counterpart to the famous blue and white pottery is Delfware that is made out of toned-down enamels known as polychrome Delft.

This new art form was not just limited to the classic plate. Tiles were particularly popular amid the spectrum of Delftware, and 400 factories in Holland produced Delftware tiles during the “golden age.” Now, only three factories—the Royal Delft, De Delftse Pauw and Royal Tichelaar Makkum—manufacture the pottery.

Finding Your Own Dutch Pottery

Beware of souvenir stores that sell pretty knockoffs of true antique Delftware. Check out the following  pointers to ensure you are buying an authentic piece of Dutch history:

Look for the underglaze marks. Factories hand painted these marks.

Don’t shy away from a few chips. A chip in a Delftware piece shows it is genuine.

Examine the design. An intricate and precise painting means that a real Dutch hand from long ago handled the pottery.

The stranger, the better. Hold on to it if you find a more peculiar piece like a tea canister, cow figure or cruet set. Unlike tiles, these pottery antiques are harder to find and therefore have a higher value.

Delftware Cow
Quirky pieces like this cow figurine are rare and valuable.




A New Home With Vintage Sensibilities

Learn how to turn a newly constructed home into a vintage haven with homeowner Amy Campbell.

This tract home bathroom gets a vintage makeover with a farmhouse style bathtub and vintage bathroom accessories.
This tract home bathroom gets a vintage makeover with a farmhouse style bathtub and gold vintage bathroom accessories.

What do you do when you have a new home, but want a vintage look? When Amy Campbell and her husband Joe bought a new tract home in Temecula, California, Amy knew she would have to speed up its aging process. Here’s how she did it.

Vintage furniture makes the perfect antique haven for this new home.
The master bed is an heirloom piece from Joe’s grandparents, and on an end bench Amy displays part of her vintage hat collection.

Start With the Bones.

Decorating a home always starts with the structure itself. Even though Amy and Joe’s home still smelled of fresh sawdust, she saw the potential for vintage style. “I knew the ‘bones’ would work with my style,” she says. “I wouldn’t want high ceilings because they don’t lend themselves to a delicate style of furniture. It had the right scale for the way I like to decorate. Even though it’s an open floor plan, the scale and aspects of the room lent themselves to a gentler style of furniture, not huge pieces. It was the perfect marriage of light, open rooms in a traditional type of architectural style that I could decorate the way I wanted to. It also had English gardens in the back and front of the house.”

Instead of working against the architecture, Amy used it to her advantage. “The architectural style was French Country with a little Tuscan influence,” she says. “I wanted it a little more rustic. I added some shabby elements and a bit of industrial style for a French-cottage distressed look.” Amy paired the French country architecture with her own vintage style, which resulted in an aged but timeless look. “I love anything rustic and chippy,” she says. “I’d describe the décor as French provincial with a cottage twist.”

This new home receives a vintage makeover with shabby interiors and antiques on display.
If you want to display vintage items in your home, don’t stop with pillows or statuettes. Make clothes into accent pieces with a hat rack or dress form.

Add Vintage Charm.

When it comes to furniture, Amy is all about antiques. “Everything in my home has to be old and have a history, either vintage or antique,” she says. She displays vintage finds throughout her home, and doesn’t stop with the furniture. “I collect vintage buttons and add them to modern clothing,” Amy says. “I also collect floral oil paintings. My great-great cousin was an oil painter, and I started collecting and displaying them, including three of her paintings.” By displaying items such as antique coats and hats, Amy shows off her love of vintage style through small details as well as the larger elements of her rooms.

Shabby vintage details make this new home the perfect antique showcase.
Amy shares her grandmother’s passion for needlepoint, and in the living room, Amy’s work sits next to her grandmother’s on display.

Strut Your Stuff.

Not only does Amy display vintage pieces throughout her home, but she also shows off some of her own handiwork. “I love anything with needlepoint, and I display the needlepoints my grandmother and I made in the rooms,” she says. Even her passion for crafts and hand stitching is part of the heritage her grandmother passed down, and now the work of both grandmother and granddaughter sits proudly side by side. Amy’s needlepoint projects make an appearance in pillows and ottomans in various rooms.

In her dining room, Amy decorates for fall with appropriate white pumpkins and sprigs of green.
In her dining room, Amy decorates for fall with appropriate white pumpkins and sprigs of green.

Be Seasonal.

When the weather turns cold, Amy dresses up her home for the various holidays during fall and winter. “I love to decorate with pumpkins and gourds,” she says. “I also decorate bottlebrush trees—my true craft passion—for the holidays. I repurpose shoe buckles into bracelets and make them for holiday parties.”

During the fall months, real pumpkins and needlepointed masterpieces grace her living room, dining table and even bedroom. “The beauty of this kind of décor is that everything blends together well,” Amy says.


Grow Your Own Bouquet

Learn how to keep your home filled with fresh flowers without spending a fortune.


Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

A bouquet of fresh flowers can do so much to brighten up your home. The scent, the bright colors and the reminder of the world outside will add a breath of fresh air to the room. The downside of fresh bouquets is the cost—the flowers will last for about a week (if you’re lucky), and if you want to keep fresh flowers in your home on a regular basis, the costs will add up to a pretty penny.

Luckily, there’s a solution—grow your own bouquets! “You can fill your house with flowers without spending a fortune,” writes Alex Mitchell in her new book, Gardening on a Shoestring. The book is a helpful gardening resource full of tips and tricks for making the most of your outdoor space without breaking the bank. Here are her instructions for how to create a cutting garden in your own backyard.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • An area of ground 6 x 9 feet, cleared of weeds and stones and raked into a fine tilth
  • Tape measure
  • Garden twine
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Scissors
  • 6 packets of seed: Bupleurum griffithli, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade,’ Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix,’ Cornflower ‘Blue Ball,’ Ammi majus, Agrostemma githago (Corncockle), or seeds suited to your planting region
  • Rake
  • Watering can with rose attachment/garden hose

When To Start:

Mid- to late spring

How to Do it:

Divide your growing area into six equal squares, staking out the grid with twine tied to sticks pushed into the soil. Then sow each square with a different variety of seed. Rake over the soil gently to cover the seeds and water well. Keep the patch weeded and protect the young shoots from slugs until established. Sowing each variety of seed in a different square makes harvesting and weeding easier.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.


Cut the flowers throughout the spring and summer to keep the plants blooming!

Learn how to garden without breaking the bank.

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchel, published by Quarto, © 2016;

Cottage Bedroom Style that is Calm, Cool and Collected

Cottage Bedroom StyleBuilt in cabinets are a great way to contain clutter and add architectural interest to a room. In this cottage bedroom, the under-bed drawer holds a trundle bed for guests, but it could just as easily store winter sweaters, seasonal pillows and bedding, or a collection of toys and boardgames.

Another way to make sure a cottage bedroom is a relaxing place is to choose the right color scheme. The pale green on the walls works as a calming neutral in this room that grounds the pop of color from the bedding. Seasonal changes are easy to make, without disrupting the calm ambiance throughout.

Keep calm and carry on!

Sources: Bedspread. Desk.

Conquer Spring Cleaning with a Few Helpful Hints

Dive into spring cleaning with a few spring cleaning secrets from the staff of Romantic Homes.

Spring Home Cleaning tipsA quick poll around the office gleaned these great tips to help you conquer spring cleaning:

  • Stock up on vinegar. It works on everything.
  • Clean surfaces with disinfectant wipes to make sure they’re clean, then wipe with Windex to ensure they’re streak free and sparkling.
  • Use denture tablets in the toilet bowl. After they fizz up, it’s easy to swish away hard water stains.
  • Use dryer sheets to clean baseboards, especially in the bathroom and laundry room where lint builds up.
  • Declutter. Get rid of unnecessary items you never use or think of.
  • Pledge will give a shiny finish to mirrors, and can also polish up your leather furniture.

And our favorite answers:

  • Wait until summer!
  • Let someone else do it!

A Vibrant Cottage with Floral Flair

This colorful Santa Monica home is full of cottage charm and vintage style.

Bright white is the background that allows every other color in the house to show off in comparison

You already know that to turn a house into a comfortable home you need to make it fit your style and lifestyle, but you are probably less certain of how to make all the elements come together in the most effective personal and functional ways. That’s when an interior designer can be your friend—and in homeowner Joan Swartz’s case, the designer actually was one.

A centerpiece in the family room showcases Joan’s pitcher collection. She enjoys using pitchers to hold flowers and likes to give them away as gifts. Amateur art found at flea markets lines the wall.

“We chose Santa Monica for the neighborhood and good public schools, and this house had enough bedrooms that even with a live‐in nanny and home office, I imagined we would never have to move again,” Joan explains. Although the house was two stories with six bedrooms, there was no real master suite, and it was in poor condition. It had also been remodeled with cheap finishes, such as aluminum sliding windows.

“So we tore it down to the studs and reorganized the entire floor plan and front elevation to restore it to look and live like an original, traditional Cape Cod‐style house,” Joan says. “I was determined to use every inch of this house—and I did.”

About 12 years later, Joan met interior designer Alison Kandler, who helped her remodel a second time, to redesign the kitchen/family room, entry and powder room on the first floor.

The former aluminum windows were replaced with Craftsman-style wood casement windows that accurately reflect the time period in which the home was built.
In the guest bedroom, quilts add color and softness to the white walls and floor.

“Another decade went by before we tackled the second story,” Joan says. “My sons were all out of the house by then, so we remodeled the master suit and kids’ bathroom, and cannibalized a couple of bedrooms to become my home office and an upstairs family room.”

A third remodel of the home included the attic area. Although the three remodels were done many years apart, Joan wanted them to look seamless. “I wanted to make it feel cohesive, like it was all done at the same time, even though it was a work in progress for 25 years,” she says.

Some of her favorite architectural details include sloped ceilings, dormers in the bedrooms, and niches that are very romantic and charming. “And a lot of windows—about 65 windows,” Joan says. “Windows on at least two sides of a room help to let light into a room at different times of the day. I love living so near the ocean for the constant ocean breeze and beautiful sunsets.”

Redecorating the Rooms

The double-wide armchair for two was found at a garage sale in lime green. Joan had it upholstered in her favorite cranberry color.

Through the years, Joan and Alison became business partners as well as close friends. Joan trusted Alison’s intuition and skills as an interior designer to achieve her desired décor. “You can’t collaborate well unless you feel comfortable with someone else having a better idea,” Joan says. “There’s an absence of competitive ego between us, so we work really well as a team. Alison is the keeper of the concept and helps me to balance all these beautiful colors without getting carried away.” Alison’s familiarity with Joan was a great asset in making decorating decisions. “Joan has a lot of personality; she’s very outgoing. She loves life and wanted her home to feel happy, warm and colorful,” she says.

On Joan’s request list was opening up the kitchen for entertaining, so Alison made some creative changes in design and functionality. “I opened it up by getting rid of the upper cabinets and rearranging the overall space,” Alison says. “We wanted to include an island with a stove on it, but the kitchen wasn’t quite big enough, so we created a C‐shaped island so Joan can stand on an angle to cook while seeing through to the family room and socializing with guests.”

Alison had to find another creative solution for a column next to the refrigerator that couldn’t be moved, so she hid it behind laminated glass. She chose American cherry wood for the countertops, since Joan loves the warmth of wood. “The wood counter is a bit of maintenance, so we put a fresh coat of polyurethane on it every year,” Joan says. Since Alison knew Joan loves color, she painted the island in eggplant (plum) and the chairs in different colors.

Joan says she feels like she’s showering in a flower garden thanks to this colorful custom-made tile floor.

Making a Splash in the Bath

“My favorite aspect of the project is the tiled shower floor in the master bathroom. It’s covered in a floral design,” Alison says. “An artist in Phoenix creates unusual tiles, so I gave him a color palette of purple and pink flowers, and I told him the kind of flowers I wanted to use.” Joan adores the floral shower floor. “I really like to bring the outdoors in. I feel like I’m showering in a flower garden,” she says.

The gingham pattern might look like it was painted, but the effect was actually produced with tiles. Mauve grout, rather than the traditional white, is responsible for making the transition appear seamless.

Another favorite is a guest bathroom that boasts a charming gingham purple floor. “Alison said to me, ‘When are we ever going to get to do a purple floor?’ So I trusted her and went with purple instead of green. It’s fabulous!” Joan says.

A built-in nook holds a house-shaped cookie jar, cookbooks and an assortment of Joan’s collectibles.

Adding a Personal Touch

An unexpected but enduring effect Alison has had on Joan was introducing her to the world of being a collector. “She didn’t have collections at the time, so we started going to flea markets, and she caught the bug.”

Joan has amassed several collections that she enjoys displaying. “I love to buy amateur art and paint‐by‐number paintings at flea markets. I’m a quilter, so I display them as well as my needlepoints, Sandy Kreyer floral ceramics, pitchers, miniature teapots and antique Barbola mirrors from the early 20th century.”

The architect and designer are both thrilled with the outcome. “We live in each other’s art,” Alison says. “You want the family to feel like they could never live anywhere else.” Joan says she is finally living in her dream home. “I feel like Cinderella. Every morning I wake up thinking how lucky I am to live here,” Joan says. “We have plenty of room to have friends stay with us and share our comfortable home. We are really blessed and grateful. It fits us like a glove!”

You can learn more about architect/homeowner Joan Swartz at Joan Swartz Design. To learn more about interior design Alison Kandler, visit Alison Kandler Interior Design.





Get the Look: Pretty in Pink

Get the look of this bright pink room with these frilly finds.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means lots of pink. But October is months away, so we think February should be the official Pink month. In honor of Romantic Home’s favorite color, here’s an adorable pink bedroom and some of our favorite pink finds from around the web.

Romantic Pink Bedroom

Bedroom Bench

This fun tufted bench would look perfect under a windowsill as a faux window bench, or even standing in the hallway next to a side table.

Blushing Chandelier

This chandelier will add the perfect pink sparkle to your home. Try it in a bedroom, the kitchen or even a breakfast nook.

Blushing Chandelier


Lacy Comfort

This comforter set would contribute to the ultimate romantic bedroom with white walls and some rose petals scattered along the windowsill.

romantic bedroom


Pillow Fest

Jazz up a contrasting bed color with pink pillows! Even if you don’t have a pink bedroom, a touch of blush wouldn’t hurt.



Seeing Pink

This fun mirror will brighten up a space and add a touch of pink, even if the shade isn’t your main color.

fun mirror