Karen, who blogs at Our Big House on the Prairie, has a gift for creating a festive, cozy, holiday-decorated home. We’re so happy to share some photos from her lovely abode — you’re in for an absolutely festive tour. We also spoke with Karen about her decorating style and holiday traditions.
Can you give us a brief history of your home?
“Our home was built in 1907-08. We purchased the house in foreclosure in July 2010 and embarked on a two and a half year renovation. Every inch of the house was in need of tender loving care . . . and some parts needed a complete overhaul. We are thankful we survived the process.”
How do you use your office during the year? Does its use change at all over the holidays?
“I own a business where I help people care for their photos by getting them off their hard drives and into their lives. My office is where I preserve my own family’s memories and stories — and in the process help others do the same. I coach a team around the country, and all of that happens around my computer. It’s so important — both mentally and emotionally — to have a beautiful place to work. I use my Pottery Barn shelves to surround myself with my favorite things . . . photo albums, favorite needlework, a picture of my daddy, gifts from my children and my cherished collection of 17 Susan Branch journals. (For 17 years I have celebrated each day with written comments at bedtime in a journal.) This year I added my Top 40 movies to my shelves! My work is steady throughout the year, but my Pottery Barn project table probably sees a little more action around Christmas. My wish for the world: That every woman gets a Bradford Project Table.”
Can you tell us about all of the stockings and mittens you have hanging? There are a lot!
“We are a blended family of ten kids — and now six grandchildren! With spouses, our stocking count is up to sixteen! With every wedding I get to pick a new stocking. Our stockings are handknit in Bosnia by underprivileged women. Since we are adding grandchildren at an alarming (and wonderful!) rate -— 5 in this past year. I made an executive decision that the grandchildren would have mittens instead.”
Do you have a favorite room in your home?
“My favorite room would be the kitchen . . . and our bedroom . . . and the master bathroom . . . and my office. Ha.”
Are there any Pottery Barn products you used to decorate with this year that you particularly love?
“I loved bringing wrapped Christmas gifts home from Pottery Barn and incorporating them right into my decorating! Isn’t that why we love Pottery Barn, because everything coordinates? Right down to their wrapping paper, ribbon and tags! My friends are not going to get their gifts until the last minute. I loved seeing the way Pottery Barn filled glass decanters with ornaments in the store. I went home and did the same. My favorite new thing is the real wax flameless candles that you set on a timer with the touch of a button. Every night at 5:30 pm my candles all come on like magic and flicker for 5 hours. It has added a real magical feel to the house this holiday. And I know it is time to go to bed when all my candles are out — ha.”
“I also loved putting the Pottery Barn Kids chair Santa hats – on my PB kitchen stools, and I love the Pottery Barn mercury glass collection because I think it reflects the beauty of our leaded windows — no pun intended. This holiday I wrapped it in white toile netting and added vintage snow.”
Your tree is lovely! What kind is it? Is this how you usually decorate it every year?
“Our tree this year is a Douglas Fir. I like Frasier Firs, too. The important thing for me is fresh. “Life is too short for plastic greenery” is what I like to say. This year I did everything fresh, even the evergreen boughs on the mantels and at the front door . . . it made me happier. The tree is decorated with ornaments that have been lovingly collected over the years. If we tried, we could probably tell our family history with that Christmas tree.”
How are you celebrating the holidays this year? Are you hosting family?
“This year I am celebrating by creating a family recipe book with photos and family stories. It is actually Volume 2 of Mother Rabbit Cooks. Our family will gather to celebrate after the holidays because we alternate with the ‘outlaws’ and this isn’t our year.”
What advice do you have for others who want to enjoy their holiday decorating more?
“Force yourself to get it done early by being on a Christmas Home Tour or scheduling a big holiday Party. And make a great playlist of classic Christmas music.”
Why do you shop at Pottery Barn?
“I like one-stop shopping. I am not a mall shopper. I like having everything I love all in one place. I love beautiful, classic design. I love how everything in the store fits together and works together because I like my whole house to feel coordinated. I also like the way that my vintage Pottery Barn pieces work with the new stuff — and last year’s pillows mix and match with this season. I love the prints that make me want to stand and stare at them. I love the color palettes. I love getting my PB catalogs and being inspired . . . Not only are they a decorating guide, but they transport you to places that you can dream about creating for your own home. Somehow we learn about warmth and creating intimate spaces, color and good design just by flipping through the pages. They ‘teach us’ with pictures. I love feeling inspired by walking into the Pottery Barn store — and I love the kind people who work there. I loved renovating a home knowing that Pottery Barn had everything I needed — and wanted! From the light fixtures to the mirrors and house numbers.”
Take the full tour of Karen’s beautiful home!
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Source: Photos courtesy Our Big House on the Prairie/a>