Decor, Holiday

Wreath Making 101


By no means do I crown myself an expert, but three hours in a floral studio this past Sunday taught me a lot about the art of wreath making. And you know what? It’s not that hard to do. A lush, organic-looking wreath is hard to come by in retail circles – unless you’re willing to spend a pretty penny. So, why not skip all of that nonsense and have a little fun in the process?



Short-needled evergreen boughs

2-3 varieties of complimentary greenery or accents (i.e. berries, cedar, etc.)

Pine cones

Pruning snips

Green wire wreath frame – preferably one with four rings

Wire cutters (I got by without these and cut wires with the pruner, but it’s your choice)

Wire easel

Green floral wire:

Package of lighter weight wire (like this)

Package of heavier weight wire (like this)


1. Set your frame on a flat surface and survey the scene. Visualize your finished wreath hanging upon your front door, ever so inviting. What does it look like? Great – now manifest it.

2.  Cut up your base greens (your short-needled boughs) into manageable pieces, but do it strategically. Keep the sections fairly large to minimize the work and to maximize the hearty appearance of your wreath. Make sure each piece will curve to fit the shape of your frame. If it’s not a good fit, snip it into smaller pieces to use for filler at a later stage.

3. Working around the wreath frame in one direction, begin to secure greenery sections –  overlapping significantly as you go. Fold strands of your lightweight wire in half and thread from front to back on either side of a hefty branch. Twist the wire tightly on the back of your frame and make sure you’re capturing a portion of it each time you fasten a branch.  Snip off the excess wire and tuck under as much as possible. Now is not the stage to be stingy. If you want a full wreath shape, pile on the greens.

4. Once you’ve made a complete circle with the base greens, hang your wreath on the wire easel and take a step back. Use smaller pieces of greens to fill in empty spaces and balance the shape.

5. Using your next variety of greens, work around the frame again in one direction. You’ll want to incorporate enough of the new addition to make a visual impact, but not so much that you cover up the work you’ve already done. Take the heavyweight wire and thread through your existing greens to secure the ornamental pieces with a twist at the back of the frame. At this stage, I used “Blueberry Cedar.”

(I found it easiest to keep my wreath on the easel at this point, but play around  to find what works for you.)

6. Follow suit with your next variety. As a contrast to the structured appearance of your base green, use something more willowy.  I used “Incense Cedar,” but something like Leyland Cypress could be a nice option, too.

7. Place your wreath back onto the easel (if it isn’t already). Touch up your work using all three varieties of greens. Use your own judgement and surely keen eye.

8. Now, for the pinecones. Wrap your wire once around the pinecone towards the base, taking care to bury the wire as much as possible so it’s not too visible. Twist to secure the wire to the pinecone before you go any further. Then, thread each of the three pinecones through the greens and secure to the frame at the back with a twist. Cluster in a group of three (odd numbers are best).

9. Voila! You’re a regular Martha Stewart. Only younger and hotter.

Decor, design

Do Blush

Blushcollage1Blushcollage2Blush is trending. (In my mind, if not anywhere else.) Typically, blush refers to the palest of pinks; the softest of rouges. While I do admit I prefer the lightest tint, I refuse to discriminate against a perfectly good tinge of rose. You know, it’s a decidedly feminine color, but somehow I see it as a kind of neutral. (This probably won’t be a popular opinion in terms of home decor once I’m living with a gentleman). Until then, I’ll just sit and ponder how, pray tell, I can incorporate the joy-inspiring color into my daily life. I do have a tiny feather pillow from Anthropologie that sits atop my bed in all its peach-toned glory, but the feathers have been shedding little by little and – dare I say it – its life might be coming to a premature end. In a passionate effort to emulate the high-gloss faux taxidermy pictured above, I purchased my own (genuine) deer skull with the intention of painting it the same color – or a little lighter (details on this project to come). For a few reasons (logistics included), I decided to ditch the pink and bought a can of metallic gold spray paint instead. Why? I’m still not sure. I think I convinced myself that gold better suited my ideal decor plan, it has greater longevity, and it is significantly more gender-neutral. Since my dose of blush was compromised, I need to find another way to scratch the itch. I’m thinking an upholstered chair might do.


Some dolls are cool

I get a lot of flack for the sweet gals that sit atop my bedroom table. For a long time, there were only two sisters: a rosey-cheeked, hollow composition head and an Italian-made, diaper-clad babe. On Sunday, the family grew. Thanks to my favorite Saint Paul antique store, Missouri Mouse, a silly little kewpie has entered the picture. I understand the push back, I do. Porcelain dolls with physical hair and realistic features that sit on shelves are creepy; I am the first to admit it. But these are different! Old-school composition and plastic dolls are like little pieces of pop art to me. Their sweet features and vintage charm catch my eye and melt my heart. Although I definitely keep an eye out whenever I am treasure-hunting, I am highly selective and only “adopt” when I really feel the love (hence a total of 3 pieces in about 4 years). Feast your eyes on my little slices of sweetness!


Decor, design

Stacks and stacks: Cool or contrived?

It’s quite the dilemma. What do you do with already-read magazines? Toss them? Catalogue tears and dispose of the rest? Save them all without a second thought? I’ve done a combination of the three. With interior magazines in particular, I tear out inspiration pieces and file them in black books filled with crisp, clear sleeves (sourced from Blick). As far as fashion magazines go, I pretty much hoard my Elles and Bazaars until I can’t hoard anymore (hence, the topic of magazine stacks). And let’s be honest, the version of the story where I toss perfectly good, glossy magazines into the trash is fairly rare, if not non-existent. So, delving deeper into the discussion, are stacks of monthly bound publications just another source of clutter? Or does the occasional, nonchalant pile reflect a creative and inspired homeowner? Since we already know I’m in the camp that believes in the stack, I should probably clarify by saying that I’m also a bit wary. In some circumstances, it can make a room look unkempt and scattered. It can also end up looking more forced and arranged than casually collected. I’ve come to believe that the key, though, is maintaining continuity within your heap. One mustn’t muddle the visual by mixing bindings of different colors and patterns.

stack no no

Instead, curate your selection to include only one or two colors (black and white are ideal). Maintain a simplistic visual amidst the madness (sticking to only a few repetitive publications might help) and you’ll be just fine. Hoard on, my sweets.

good3 good4 good5good2



Decor, Holiday

Gift Wrap 101

The gifts under your tree can make or break the aesthetics of your holiday landscape at home. A brightly lit tree shining down on poorly coordinated gift wrap?! The horror! Here are a few tips to keep you on track with your elfish duties.

1. Choose a color palette and stick to it.

A red and white scheme is always a win in my opinion. Nothing could say “classic Christmas” more outright.

marthagift2 marthagift1

Primary colors (especially for kids) are a sweet option.


You could also consider an icy blue palette with a touch of holiday red.


2. Mix prints and patterns within your palette.


3. Vary the materials and trims to add interest.

rifle gift 3

4. Use simple gift tags so as not to distract from your wrap.

Too boring for your taste? Add ribbon, greens, or other festive baubles.


Of course there are exceptions to these rules. You could go crazy with a different print and color scheme for every package and it might turn out to be fantastic. It’s just harder to ‘get it right’ with this strategy.

For example, you could go with three or four completely different prints that are unified by their styling. This combo of Rifle Paper Co. papers could make for a very merry holiday. In this case, the coloring enhances the match, too (with a golden color appearing in each print)…
rifle wrap 8

rifle wrap 4

rifle wrap 7

You could even add this handmade polka dot kraft paper into the mix. It has the same illustration look which ties it in perfectly with the rest of the happy wrapping family.

polka dot gift

Here’s a little peek of what I’ve conjured up this year. Admittedly, it’s not Martha Stewart quality…but I dig it. And though an iPhone is a wonderful thing, it is not the best device to use to highlight your work.

gift 3


gift 7

Screen shot 2012-12-16 at 12.03.09 PM

gift 4



Paper is from the Mara Mi collection at Target (available only in stores – not online). Trimmings include red and white bakers twine (found a large roll at TJ Maxx, but its available all over lately – here’s an affordable option), good old regular twine (purchased at Home Depot), and various other ribbons sourced from Michael’s. The gift tags are revved up sale tags made of a thicker card stock. I found mine in the scrapbooking aisle at Michael’s, but you could totally go an even more utilitarian route (and a likely cheaper one) by checking an office supply store for ultra basic sale tags.

I have other ideas that I’m storing away for next year – one being a collabo between simple kraft paper wrap and these rainbow and glitter pom poms from Blick. I haven’t quite worked out the details yet…but I think I’m getting somewhere…somewhere whimsical.

glitter poms


Cubic Carrera

As I’ve rifled through Elle Decor and design blogs over the past couple of years, fantasizing about my small-but-great dream home, I’ve continually been drawn to Carrera marble. It’s a classic building material that in some situations may seem overused, outdated, or too ostentatious. If done right, however, this beautiful white-ish marble is the antithesis of dull. Geometric slabs of Carrera are the ultimate standard of chic, modern living. In particular, marble blocked islands (having the same material on both the top and sides of the structure) make a huge statement. Glance below for examples of the linear, chunky look that I’m loving.