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Simple DIY projects to get modern-rustic holiday decor on a budget - definitely trying some of these this year.

The Forever Home Project: A Rustic Holiday Mantle

Julee is back today with a seasonal addition to The Forever Home Project.  I love her easy-to-do ideas and I’m seriously thinking about picking up one of those bay leaf garlands – so gorgeous (see the Etsy link in the post). Without further ado, here she is…

I’m so excited to spend the holiday season in our new home that I started decorating the day after Halloween. A little crazy, I know! My first project to tackle was the fireplace in our formal living room.

We decided to place our Christmas tree in this room, which means it will be the center of our family togetherness during the holidays. Yes, I’m totally picturing the kids wearing plaid pajamas, reading stories and sipping hot chocolate by the fire.

The scene is beautiful in my mind, but the reality of our fireplace is not. Our home was built in the early 1980s, and nowhere is the glam of the 80s more apparent than in the black marble tile and shiny brass trim of our fireplace. We’re hoping to resurface the fireplace someday, but it’s definitely not in the budget this year.

In contrast to many of the design decisions that I’m making in our ‘Forever Home,’ this decorating challenge seems like an interim solution – one that I hope will change drastically by next year. The challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that we’re still purchasing furniture for the room, making it hard to want to spend money on seasonal decorations.

My approach: keep it simple, repurpose items I already own and mix in a little DIY.

Here’s my starting point:

The Forever Home Project - A Modern Rustic Holiday Mantle

I started by defining the style of the holiday decor for the room. The traditional mantle, wood ceiling, and tall windows overlooking the trees outside give the room a rustic, almost ski-lodge feel. And since we’re already going for an ‘earthy modern’ look for the room (see my last Forever Home post), I decided to decorate the mantle in an outdoorsy, nature-themed motif.

Next, I thought about how I could incorporate materials we already owned, including found objects from the yard. This led me to two very simple DIY projects:

  1. Giving a holiday update to a set of large glass vases
  2. Repurposing tree branches from a tree we had to cut down into a series of platforms and accents

The Forever Home Project: A Modern Rustic Holiday Mantle - love the link to that bay leaf garland

For the hurricane-style candles, I started with a set of large glass vases that I purchased on clearance at Target over the summer and attached burlap and gold ribbon. I also added a small berry stem (cut from last year’s fireplace garland) to give it a pop of color and then inserted a flameless timer candle.

I placed these along the mantle with a large bay leaf garland, one of my few new purchases for this space.

The Forever Home Project: A Modern Rustic Holiday Mantle

Next, I looked to our yard for inspiration. Pine cones, acorns, tree stumps and branches make great accent pieces during the holidays. I briefly considered collecting a large batch of twigs with my children and painting them to make vase filler or a garland (like this one), but decided I didn’t have the time.

I did, however, have a few large tree branches that I kept after we had to cut down one of our trees this fall. I decided to cut these into a variety of small sizes to use as accents around the fireplace (shown in 1, 2 and 3 above).

To give the branches a bit more finish (and to tie in the gold brass trim a bit), I lightly brushed the ends of the tree pieces in gold paint. To complete the nature theme, I purchased a tree house and burlap-wrapped Christmas tree to place along the base of the fireplace.

The Forever Home Project: A Modern Rustic Mantle Decor

Because we’re still furnishing and decorating the room, I ended up leaving the space over the fireplace empty. I’m hoping to find a more permanent work of art to fill this space in the coming weeks and, if not, I may incorporate a holiday banner. I’m considering something like this (1) or this (2) shown above.

And, finally, here’s a view of the whole room showing the little bit of progress we’ve made in the furniture department since my last post:

The Forever Home Project: A Modern Rustic Holiday Decor

P.S. If you’re really looking to have the holidays in the bag this year, we’ve got two ways to help. First get the holiday shopping out of the way with all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here

Over 250 of the most engaging educational toys out there - the only gift guide you'll need this year! (love the detailed descriptions and age recommendations)

Second, check out our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, packed with low-prep and low-stress ideas for make memories crafting, cooking, reading and adventuring with the kids!

Hands On Holidays eBook - can't wait to use this with the kids this year!




P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2016 Printables and our Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit : over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more!

2016 POYEL Printables
Kids Responsibility & Money Management Kit


2) Sign up for our newsletter:

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3) Bookmark our famous Gift Guides for the next time you need the perfect kids' gift! (400+ detailed descriptions including age recommendations)- just click on the photos below

Our infamous kids' gift guides

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Julee is a designer and mother of two young children. On her blog, Warm Hot Chocolate, she writes about her family, photography, home decor and life in Texas.

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