Keeping Holiday Decorating Traditions Alive

This cottage gets decorated with holiday memories.

Christmas arrives with a rush of special memories, with each ornament, figurine and package bringing with it images of holidays past. Drena Bathemess’s 1920s Florida cottage reflects treasured traditions throughout this festive season, her decorating style influenced by her childhood home and the home she’s built with her own children.

Carrying on a tradition from her childhood, Drena decorates her home with multiple trees at the holidays. This faux tree brings a classic “white Christmas” feel to the Florida home.
Carrying on a tradition from her childhood, Drena decorates her home with multiple trees at the holidays. This faux tree brings a classic “white Christmas” feel to the Florida home.

Drena grew up in a home decorated with multiple Christmas trees, a tradition she’s carried into her own home. Trees can be found framed by windows, on tabletops and artfully arranged in corners. A faux white tree brings a wintery feel to the home. Pastel mini-trees give rooms a fresh burst of color.

A natural tree, cut from a local forest, serves as the family tree. It’s decorated with a mixture of heirloom ornaments, pieces made by Drena’s son, and vintage baubles sourced from area flea markets and antiques shops. The family’s gifts are gathered under the tree, wrapped in brown paper and embellished with string, ribbon or a floral garnish.

This natural tree was cut from a local forest and serves as the family tree. Christmas gifts are wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with simple string, festive ribbon or a floral garnish.
This natural tree was cut from a local forest and serves as the family tree. Christmas gifts are wrapped in plain brown paper and tied with simple string, festive ribbon or a floral garnish.

Drena’s collections of ornaments can be found throughout the home, not just on the trees. In the dining room, ornaments are hung from sashes to dress up chairs. In the sitting room, ornaments are gathered on platters and under cloches. The living room fireplace is decked with a wreath Drena crafted from an assortment of vintage balls.

The look is topped of with a variety of new and vintage, fresh and artificial accents. A vintage tobacco-barn star is given a holiday makeover with twinkle lights and embellished with flowers. Fresh evergreen garlands swag walls and trim windows, while a variety of fresh and silk flowers bring a pastel touch to the rooms.

Drena uses ornaments to decorate more than just Christmas trees and finds spots for the festive balls throughout her home. She crafted the wreath hanging on her fireplace from vintage ornaments.
Drena uses ornaments to decorate more than just Christmas trees and finds spots for the festive balls throughout her home. She crafted the wreath hanging on her fireplace from vintage ornaments.

While all of these pieces hold special meaning to Drena, she’s not afraid to mix it up and experiment with the design of her holiday home from year to year, excited to find new ways to showcase the collections that hold so much meaning.

The large vintage tobacco-barn star is dressed for the holidays with twinkle lights and festive embellishments.
The large vintage tobacco-barn star is dressed for the holidays with twinkle lights and festive embellishments.

“I never decorate my home the same way; it changes each year, inviting friends and family to rediscover Christmas treasures,” she says.

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Embracing A Vibrant Palette in Holiday Décor

For some, the holidays offer an opportunity to bring in new colors and patterns for a fresh seasonal style.

For some homeowners, the holidays offer an opportunity to transform the look of their home, to bring in new colors and patterns for a fresh seasonal style. Other homeowners, though, view holiday decorating as a chance to amp up their current look, selecting décor and accessories that accentuate the style they’ve carefully crafted.

When decorating her home for the holidays, Donna plays up on the existing white and aqua theme.
When decorating her home for the holidays, Donna plays up on the existing white and aqua theme.

Donna Pochaski-Thomas, owner of the home furnishings and design shop Vintage Chic Furniture, follows the latter approach when dressing her vibrantly appointed Victorian brownstone in Upstate New York for holidays.

“I love a palette of aqua, light pink and hot pink,” she says. “My theme is primarily white with those pops of color.”

White dominates the home at Christmas. A white tree is framed in the front picture window. Cascading white garlands wrap around the banisters and frame doorways, brightly spotlighting the home’s gorgeous woodwork. Vintage white linens drape tables and are transformed into tree skirts.

Though the angel wings and cherubs are part of the home’s décor year-round, these pieces fit well with Donna’s white textured holiday accessories.
Though the angel wings and cherubs are part of the home’s décor year-round, these pieces fit well with Donna’s white textured holiday accessories.

Texture is an important element in the white theme, from the spiky garlands to the soft angel wings and plush pom-poms found throughout the home.

“I remember finding this pink and white pom-pom trim; I couldn’t use it [on a pillow], then I realized it makes an awesome vintage-looking pom-pom garland,” Donna says. “Now it’s one of the most exciting things that I have.”

Donna easily dresses up her home for the holidays by adding garlands, pom-pom trim and ornaments to her mantels, furnishings and accessories.
Donna easily dresses up her home for the holidays by adding garlands, pom-pom trim and ornaments to her mantels, furnishings and accessories.

When it comes to accents, Donna stays true to her favorite shades of pinks and aquas.

“I have found several boxes of ornaments over the years,” she says. “I would pull out all the pink, blue, white and silver, and give all the red and green ones to friends of mine.”

The home’s bright aqua walls are complemented by a mix of white furnishings and accessories. At the holidays, Donna turns up the look with white and green garlands, and pink accents.
The home’s bright aqua walls are complemented by a mix of white furnishings and accessories. At the holidays, Donna turns up the look with white and green garlands, and pink accents.

The look is topped off with some sparkle and shine.

“I love adding extra mercury glass ornaments, candleholders and tree-shaped pieces with scented candles,” Donna says. “The holidays are a perfect time to have more candles than normal, and mercury glass always adds that holiday sparkle.”

 



A Signature Take on Vintage Meets Modern Holiday

Homeowner Stephanie Vogler creates a shimmering Christmas home trimmed in her favorite pieces.

Family-friendly Christmas decor incorporates the children’s items as well

In a house decorated with a mix of vintage and modern pieces in whites and metallics, the traditional red-and-green holiday theme simply wouldn’t fit. Instead, homeowner Stephanie Vogler, co-owner of the Vancouver interior design firm and boutique The Cross, fully embraced her style to create a shimmering Christmas home trimmed in her favorite pieces.

The downtown apartment, which offers views of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains, is a study in white-on-white decorating. By bringing in a range of textures and finishes, Stephanie makes the look pop. At the holidays, a flocked tree, plush throws and Scandinavian-inspired ornaments bring a classic wintery touch to the space.

“There is so little snow in Vancouver I thought they’d have fun if I brought a little bit of the white stuff inside,” Stephanie says. “The tree is my way of letting [my family] enjoy that classic Christmas feeling at home.”

 

With very little snow in Vancouver, homeowner Stephanie Vogler uses Christmas décor like this flocked tree to bring a winter wonderland inside for her children to enjoy.
With very little snow in Vancouver, homeowner Stephanie Vogler uses Christmas décor like this flocked tree to bring a winter wonderland inside for her children to enjoy.
Simply wrapped gifts bring some classic charm to this holiday. Craft paper, off-cuts and scraps saved throughout the year can brighten your packages.
Simply wrapped gifts bring some classic charm to this holiday. Craft paper, off-cuts and scraps saved throughout the year can brighten your packages.

“If I want a bit of glamour, which I love, I just drop in touches of silver and gold,” she says. “Against a neutral background, their shine makes a room feel special.”

Though sleek and elegant, this is a family home (Stephanie shares the apartment with her husband and two young children), so comfort is a must. All of the furnishings are cozy and inviting. Even aspects of her holiday décor, like giftwrap, has a casual quality to it.

“The kids and I often make our own giftwrap, using craft paper and metallic stamps,” she says. “I like the contrast of homemade craft wrap with sparkly ribbon.”

By accentuating her personal style at the holidays, Stephanie is able to create a warmly welcoming spot for her family and friends to enjoy throughout the season.

“I love my work and love playing with textures and colors, but I want home to be about spending time with my family,” she says. “Everything at home is casual and spontaneous. I don’t worry about the kids spilling drinks on the sofa or setting a fancy table for friends.”

 



Limoges: History and Collecting Basics

If you love France, the romance and elegance of bygone eras and porcelain, Limoges may be the perfect collectible for you.

When you use the word “china” to mean porcelain tea sets and dinnerware, you are keeping alive a linguistic reminder that China used to have the monopoly on high quality (hard-paste) porcelain. That changed in the 1700s, first in Meissen, Germany, and several decades later in Limoges, France.

Beautiful French Limoges Porcelain has always captured hearts and has the ability to inspire. To collectors, the beauty, incredible artwork and exceptional quality of Limoges porcelain surpass any other porcelain in the world. A collection of Limoges, edited and arranged in a contemporary style, is as beautiful as fine art in any interior. Best of all, Limoges porcelain is usable today. Vases hold lush floral bouquets, place settings set a gracious table and teacups are a most welcome indulgence when filled with steaming hot tea.

There is an incredible range of Limoges porcelain to collect, from full dinner services to precisely painted hatpins, from one‐of‐a‐kind hand-painted objects to transfer printed items. No matter what type of Limoges captures your heart, the history of Limoges is enchanting.

The History of Limoges China

The term “Limoges” refers to the hard‐paste porcelain produced by factories in Limoges, France, for over 200 years. The name of the city has become synonymous with the luxury porcelain products made by those factories. Hard‐paste porcelain is known as grand feu in French; it is porcelain that is fired at very high temperatures. Before kaolin clay was discovered in the town of Saint‐Yrieix‐la‐Perche in 1771, the Chinese were the only ones able to produce hard‐paste porcelain. Kaolin clay creates resilient, translucent porcelain, unlike any other porcelain.

The first factory, founded by brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet, was bought by Louis XVI, King of France, in 1784. The royal court commissioned exquisite dinner services to be made exclusively for the palaces of the King.By the beginning of the 1800s, several private factories began producing the porcelain. The French aristocracy were the main buyers of Limoges, commissioning vast dining services, vases and decorative pieces. At one time there were over 48 factories operating in Limoges.

Often, exports to the U.S. came as “blanks” so amateurs could add their own decoration. Sometimes amateur decorators transferred a design to the plain porcelain, and many were hand-painted by china-painting hobby groups. The quality of the decoration makes a difference in its value as a collectible today.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

1. Look for the mark. Almost all Limoges is marked. Each factory had its own production and decorating marks. There are online resources where you can learn about the different Limoges marks. A very few pieces have no mark.

2. Study the quality of the porcelain. genuine piece of Limoges porcelain will be translucent and bright white under the glaze. The glaze should be smooth and hard. Go to a reputable antiques shop to study Limoges pieces; after you’ve seen a few good pieces of Limoges, you will recognize it by the exceptional quality.

3. Look closely at the beauty and skill of the painting. The really good pieces of Limoges were painted by incredibly skilled artists. Many pieces of Limoges were painted and signed (or not) by an amateur artist. To determine whether to add these to your collection, look at the quality of painting. A piece of slightly inferior porcelain that is extremely well painted with a beautiful subject is superior to a piece of Limoges that is better in porcelain quality but poorly painted.

Lidy Baars sells antiques on her inspiring online shop frenchgardenhouse.com