Rustic Cottage Christmas Décor
Decorating The Cliffs Cottage
It may look as if we splurged big time to dress up The Cliffs Cottage for the holidays, but in reality all it took was a sharp pair of garden clippers, a few accessories, and some creativity.
You might remember this home from our June 2008 issue. It was built in partnership with Furman University to put a real face on sustainable design. When we decided to decorate the house for the holidays, we called on the Carolina Foothills Garden Club. They swooped in and pulled together a natural yet elegant look that reinforces the sustainable theme of the overall project.
This time of year, nothing in the South says “hello” better than a magnolia wreath. Each door across the front of the house is adorned with one from The Magnolia Company. Here, the exterior garden club team―Cokey Cory, Joanie McCauley, and Georgea Greaves―festooned each wreath with a big cream-and-gold bow to complement the colors inside.
Rather than wrap the front of the house with garland, lights, and other expected embellishments, the team decided to dress a bench on the porch with a garden buffet.Nearly everything in the festive arrangement can be added to the garden after the holidays. This display has three separate ideas.
First, bunches of spray roses in florist water picks are tucked into moss-covered concrete pots. (Spray roses are much less expensive than their long-stemmed cousins.) The centerpiece for the buffet is an old wooden bucket filled with freesia, eucalyptus, and goldenrod. The third element is composed of two pine seedlings and a small magnolia, which were left in plastic nursery pots and tucked into the galvanized containers; then the tops of the pots are covered with Spanish moss. Raffia bows complete the look.
Frame the View
When decorating your house, consider the first thing guests will see when they come in the front door. The interior garden club team―Margaret Galloway, Mignon Canale, Pedrick Lowrey, and Lezlie Barker―arranged gifts and handmade wreaths to welcome guests.
Empty boxes were wrapped in kraft paper to coordinate with the decorating scheme. Embellished with shimmery bows, moss, lichen, and papier-mâché acorn ornaments, these “gifts” can be used year after year. If kraft paper isn’t readily at hand, use paper grocery bags as a free alternative.
Our favorite project is the wreath hanging on the back of each chair in the foyer. Pedrick collected small acorns, nuts, and other items from the yard and attached them to a wreath form that was wrapped in a chocolate brown ribbon. She then glued the wreath to a bed of magnolia leaves clipped from the yard. An elegant bow attaches it to the back of the chair.
Deck the Halls
The team started at the mantel with a simple smilax garland cut from the garden. To get this look, lengths of smilax vine were simply taped together. The joints are hidden behind leaves. The garland drapes over small nails tacked into the fireplace surround.
Each side of the fireplace is anchored by a cone-shaped topiary wired with small twinkle lights. You could make your own by wrapping tomato cages with a lightweight, loosely woven fabric or screen and securing it in place with honeysuckle or other pliable vine. Then finish with a dusting of matte gold spray paint. Once dry, use twist ties to attach a short strand of lights to the inside of each cage.
The team placed lusterleaf holly and magnolia on the hearth to soften it. Creamy white pillar candles complete the look. The trick here is not to be too symmetrical. Pick a side to be more dominant, and dress it with extra greenery and the candles. On the mantel, two square vases were filled with osage oranges and more boughs of magnolia from trees in the yard.
Canadian hemlock dresses the windows. A visually heavier arrangement of grapevine-and-red berry ornaments on the right window balances the smaller arrangement of greenery on the left. Handcrafted corn husk angels from Margaret Galloway’s home are set among the Canadian hemlock. (Find similar angels at www.shakerworkshops.com.)
Don’t Forget the Coffee Table
This piece is often center stage for your holiday gatherings, so it needs to connect visually to the mantel and other decor in the room. To spruce up this table, our team filled a basket with more osage oranges, pecans, and clear glass bird vases from a local florist’s shop. (Similar vases are available at www.vivaterra.com.)
Our Favorite Holiday Sources
Many of the ornaments in the house came from Heeney Company, Inc., in Atlanta. This business has been a decorative source to Southern Living editors for decades. They sell to the trade and nonprofit organizations.
The Magnolia Company (www.themagnoliacompany.com) in Barberville, Florida, helps us decorate our corporate headquarters. They are the source for the magnolia wreaths.
Visit www.furmancliffscottage.com for more information and directions.