...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I’m working with Apartment Guide to dress up and organize our apartment for the holidays. It’s part of the Holiday Home Organization Blogger Challenge that they’re sponsoring.

I’ve been sprucing things up over the last few days and today I’m sharing my holiday decor with you. That means you also get a mini tour of our apartment. Let the festivities begin…

SPACE SAVING CHRISTMAS TREE

Square footage is precious in our ~900 sq ft apartment, so I picked up a live tabletop tree but chose to use it on the floor flanked by two side chairs.

I placed the petite tree in front of the patio sliders so it can be enjoyed from the inside and outside. A larger tree would have jutted out into the room too much and blocked much needed natural light from the sliders.

Our Christmas decorations are in storage but I did manage to coax Handy Hubby to hunt down one Christmas tote {mainly for the Elf on a Shelf for the kids} and was able to reuse some of our past tree dressings: lights, ribbon, bead strands. The rest of the items I picked up at various craft stores.

As much as I like natural light photos, there’s just something about a glowing Christmas tree at night that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

The tree came with a small stand and watering bowl. I propped the stand up on a box inside of a metal bucket that I already had on hand. {It was previously corralling rolls of toilet paper in a closet.} I disguised the base with our traditional tree skirt from storage.

There aren’t any ornaments on the tree. Instead, I bought 10 of the glittery ornamental wands from JoAnn’s {crazy cheap!} and stuck them throughout the tree for some more shimmer.

The topper consists of a few glitter wands zip-tied together with a trio of peacock feathers. {I have plans for gift wrap that will pull the dark teal color from the peacock feathers.}

I fell in love with the feathers at the craft store. When HH saw them, the first thing he sarcastically said was, “Peacock feathers just scream Christmas.” I could have kicked him. I didn’t.

I like the way the feathers resemble the plume of tall ornamental grasses used in landscaping. Maybe it’s just me. Layne and Everett told me feathers don’t belong on a tree.

The budget {assume anything not included was available on hand}:

  • tree & stand – $15 {Lowe’s}
  • peacock feathers – $3 {Hobby Lobby}
  • 10 glitter ornament wands – $4 {JoAnn’s}
  • pack of 100 zip ties – $4 {Home Depot}

TOTAL: $26

I had big plans to create some sort of hanging tree out of wire, fabric and lights to hang from the blinds’ rod above the patio sliders. But once I realized that the wire I bought wasn’t sturdy enough to support my creation without being all lopsided and my boys frowned at me saying, “It doesn’t even look like a Christmas tree”, I returned everything and resorted to the petite live tree. Sometimes my ideas stay that way…as ideas…for a reason.

LIGHTED BREAKFAST BAR SKIRT

Previously, the breakfast bar in the apartment was just one big mess of chaos. I brought two counter stools from our old house to put at the bar but they were far too low to use for eating at the bar. In the last 3 months, we used them once. More often than not they became a dumping ground for coats, backpacks and bags, and they took up precious traffic flow space. I don’t plan on using them at the Underdog, so I donated them to Goodwill {made sure to get a tax receipt!} and got to work redefining the area.

I placed a wing chair and side table in the nook as a place to sit and put on/take off shoes. I put the kids’ school stuff on the chair the nights before school days to make mornings run a little more smoothly.

I sewed a custom skirt/tablecloth for the bar and attached it to the kitchen side of the bar with removable velcro. It serves as a dressy holiday backdrop for the seating area.

For added ambiance, I hung a string of white icicle lights behind the skirt.

I simply tapped a few nails into the underside of the breakfast countertop {making sure not to tap them in too deep to the other side!} and attached the lights with zip ties. The white lights look like little stars at night and give off a warm glow.

But the skirt is not only decorative, it’s useful too. The shorter side of the breakfast bar looks unassuming enough…

…but pull back the fabric to reveal storage.

I relocated this shoe rack from the coat closet to free up closet space for hidden holiday gifts and any guests that may come visit over the holidays. Originally, I had wanted to create a wrapping station here but I came up with a no paper/no tape gift wrap idea that I plan on using for Christmas this year instead. Hence, no glamorous wrapping station is necessary. Still, this space behind the skirt has so many possibilities: wrapping station with hanging wire baskets, boot tray, hanging storage with Command hooks, mail collecting station with hanging organizers, etc. I added a removable hook behind the wing chair and skirt to store gifts until they are wrapped. No peeking!

The budget: {assume anything not included was available on hand}

  • striped fabric – $14 {JoAnn’s}
  • paisley fabric – $18 {JoAnn’s with coupon}
  • gold ribbon – $3 {JoAnn’s}
  • velcro – $2 {JoAnn’s with coupon}
  • icicle lights – $9 {Home Depot}
  • trio of 3M Command hooks – $6 {Home Depot}

TOTAL: $52

My favorite part about this project is that we actually use the space but it looks less cluttered now. The kids love the glowing lights at night.

GLITTER WREATHS

Nothing says ‘Happy Holidays’ like a wreath. I found two of these gold glitter wreaths at a local craft store on sale. I suspended one wreath by green ribbon in front of canvas artwork.

The sparkle is a shimmery contrast to the matte painting. At night it looks warmer…

I hung the second wreath from a standing shelf in the living room.

I like the circular shape of the wreath against all the straight lines of the bookshelf and bins.

I suspended the wreath by a green ribbon tied directly to the top shelf of the bookcase.

It’s just the hint of Christmas cheer that the corner of the room needed. It glitters at night beneath artificial light.

The budget: {assume anything not included was available on hand}

  • gold glitter wreaths – $18 each {Michael’s on sale}

TOTAL: $36

My wreaths are store bought but you could easily DIY something similar with a plain stick wreath and gold spray paint.

HOOP PENDANT SHADE

Remember the gold chandelier that hung too close to the ceiling? I hated it. Wanting a cozier, more intimate and warmer feel for the holidays, I finally did something about that chandy.

I DIYed a 24″ high fabric shade and hung it over the existing chandelier.

The new shade diffuses the light from the chandelier in a lovely way.

The oversize scale of the pendant helps connect the once too-high chandy to the dining table.

I can’t keep the light off at nighttime now.

Due to lack of time and energy, I didn’t add fabric to the bottom side of the shade.

I hung the shade from the existing chandelier’s chain with fishing line…it’s strong but virtually invisible.

The budget: {assume anything not included was available on hand}

  • large embroidery hoop – $6 {Hobby Lobby}
  • fishing line – $6 {Target}

TOTAL: $12

Could it be that my favorite holiday decor project is the one the cost the least? Yes! I plan to post the DIY specifics in a future post.

Keep in mind that all of these projects are completely temporary and easily removable – great for our temporary living situation. Thanks to Apartment Guide for sponsoring my holiday projects. I probably wouldn’t have put too much effort or thought into our apartment’s holiday decor otherwise. But now that it’s all done, I’m feeling pretty good about our warm and cozy interim housing. It was definitely worth all the time and effort put into it. My hope is that someone is inspired to make their home {whether permanent or temporary} an organized and inviting place for the holidays.

FYI – Apartment Guide is owned by Consumer Source, Inc. Apartment Guide partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its “Holiday Home Organization” Blogger Challenge.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the “Holiday Home Organization” Blogger Challenge. Apartment Guide and Consumer Source believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

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images:  1) Apartment Guide  all the rest) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

37 Comments

01.December.2011

I’m digging the beige chairs in the first few pictures…are they new or have I just missed them before?

Also – I love the idea of a live tree! I might runs to Lowe’s and buy one this weekend.

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Julie – Those chairs are new! I wondered who would notice ;) More about ‘em later.

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01.December.2011

You must have ready Emily Henderson’s piece on peacock-colored Christmas, right?! I love those feathers, they are so festive, and the wreath is lovely. I can only guess it’s a little disheartening to be doing Christmas in temporary housing and wish the best to you.

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Beth – No, I haven’t read Emily’s peacock Christmas piece yet…but I LOVE her! I’ll have to check her out the next chance I get to browse. I’m really not disheartened at all having Christmas in an apartment. I just need my guys around me and I’m good. Of course, next year will be nice to have our first Christmas in the Underdog!

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01.December.2011

I love feathers on a Christmas tree. I have a tradition where I always make sure there is at least one bird on my tree. I actually have 3. Two are larger peacocks about 5 inches tall plus the tail feathers. One is traditional peacock colors the other is all white and then I have a smaller peacock with its tail fanned out. My husband doesn’t think peacocks say Christmas either. :) Love how your little tree came out.

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01.December.2011

I totally decorate my tree with Peacock feathers! Great decorating ideas! We own but we live in a condo that is 900 square feet. I used to get a 5′ tall live tree – now we have a small artificial tree. It’s white with white lights and I love it! Takes no time at all to set up and decorate!

Happy holidays!

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01.December.2011

I love your tree…I have a peacock tree too!!! I found peacock printed ribbon at Hobby Lobby and wrapped my tree with it, plus my peacock feathers, and actual peacock {bird} ornaments. Love.
Also, the breakfast bar storage is fabulous. I love how you lit it up for the holiday. Great Idea!

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01.December.2011

Thank you for including a ‘real’ cost for the projects. There is nothing more frustrating for someone to call a project free when they had everything hanging around their house already. They had to buy the items at one point, right?
Your home looks beautiful! (Yes, I know you are in an apartment, but this is your home right now and you have done an amazing job of making it look cozy, inviting and not temporary!)

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01.December.2011

I am considering the manhattan sofa from target you have for my basement den TV area. Would you recommend it for lounging while watching movies?

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replied on December 1st, 2011

LIsa – It’s a firm, upright petite sofa. It’s not loungey. In fact, I plan on using it as a dining settee in the Underdog. We’ll purchase a new sofa for the family room. Still, it’s comfy for sitting upright, reading, using the laptop and mingling. We get a lot of compliments on it. It’s held up surprisingly well over the last 2+ years. A great buy but I don’t think it’s made for movie watching.

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01.December.2011

I love your tree!! So cute and festive!

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01.December.2011

Your tree is EXACTLY what I want to do this year (and following years while we’re in an apartment). I didn’t know Lowes had live trees! I hope my local one does too. We are in “limbo” like you because we are building a garage/apartment on 18 acres of land, until we can afford to build the real house. No room for a full size tree, but we have lots of space to plant a live one. What do you plan on doing with yours after the holidays?

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Allison – Last year we donated our live tree to a local organic landscaping company that recycles Christmas trees into wood chips and mulch. We’ll probably do the same this year as the ground will be too hard in Ohio after the new year to plant it.

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01.December.2011

Total bummer. None of the Lowes near me have live trees. I’m near Charlotte, NC.

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01.December.2011

I love your sofa. Where is it from?

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Jenny – It’s the Manhattan sofa from Target.com. A great buy and has held up well! I’ll be using it as a dining settee in the Underdog.

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01.December.2011

The apartment looks great! So pretty and Christmasy. The roomies and I are about to decorate ours…but it won’t look nearly this good. And I am dying to hear about the new chairs! And I am dying to hear the latest underdog updates.

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01.December.2011

Your apartment looks great! But…where did you get your purse? So cute.

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replied on December 1st, 2011

Nicki – The bag on the shoe stand is actually my camera bag. It was a gift from HH {he noticed it on my Wisting list} and I LOVE it!! It was an Etsy find. The link is here but this exact item is no longer available.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/84417579/dslr-camera-bag?ref=sr_gallery_19&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=leather+camera+bag&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_ship_to=US&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

There are many other Etsy sellers who offer similar camera bags. Check ‘em out!

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01.December.2011

Girl apartment living looks good at your place…everything is beautiful!

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02.December.2011

wow, great job! You’ve been busy! I LIKE the peacock feathers, so don’t worry, you’ve got support. The shade makes a huge difference too. I’m curious about your no paper, no tape idea… can’t wait to see :)

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02.December.2011

Here’s the link to the peacock Christmas:
http://www.stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/holiday-special-behinds-the-scenes.html
The globe snowman is kind of weird, but I love the bowls of peacock colored Christmas balls. (Of course in my house with little kids I would never get away with bowls of breakable Christmas balls! Ha!)

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replied on December 4th, 2011

Beth – Thanks for the link!

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02.December.2011

oh my goodness, you are so amazing. and to do all of this while pregnant?! i hope you’ll show us more photos of your cozied apartment– you’ve really managed to make it a cozy home!

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02.December.2011

I was just coming to ask where the beige chairs came from because I didn’t see them in your old house. Can’t wait to hear more about them later. and I hope they’re still available!

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02.December.2011

Can’t wait for your how-to post on how you covered the chandy! I also am living in a rental with a god-awful chandy in our dining area.

I was wondering about the chairs- but I just figured I had a bad memory.

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02.December.2011

You did a great job making the apartment warm and cozy. We lived in an apartment as temporary housing after we made our move to Ohio and were in the process of buying a new home and selling the old. We only brought with us a folding table and chairs for the dinning room, blow-up beds and cots for the bedrooms, then lawn chairs for living room, and of course the TV. We lived with the bare minimum thinking it would be a fun “camp-out” kind of experience for just a few weeks of apartment dwelling. That few weeks turned into 7 months. How I wish we had brought our actual furniture with us to the apartment. It was quite depressing living like that for SEVEN months. So as you can imagine, it was like Christmas morning the day we moved into our home and the movers unpacked all our goods. Anyway, can’t wait to hear the story behind the chairs. Also, that side table – BEAUTIFUL! Can you share on that find?

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replied on December 4th, 2011

Anna – The scalloped wood side table was an outlet find…it was either Ballard Designs or Grandin Road Outlet….I can’t remember as they’re both together in one big warehouse here in Ohio. The outlet price was ~$70 and I couldn’t pass it up.

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02.December.2011

OH Dana! Come live with us for a month so you can decorate my house!!!!! :)

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replied on December 4th, 2011

Heidi – I’ve seen the pics of your new house and it’s so great! What a view! I’d love to decorate it. Now, if I could only slip out for a month…

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02.December.2011

I love your apartment and what you are doing to the underdog, but PLEASE be careful with the wreath (with GLITTER!) against the surface of the paintnig. Glitter can be extremely abrasive and could damage the surface. It is also “static-y” and could stick which could cause harm if you try to remove it. (Please note that I work at an art museum, so am probably more paranoid than most.)
Best, Pat

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replied on December 4th, 2011

Pat – Thanks for the heads up on the glitter! I was more worried about the wreath’s sticks poking the canvas but so far, so good. I would have never thought the glitter could cause damage as well! Luckily, the wreath is heavyweight so just hangs there in place…doesn’t sway back and forth. While the art piece means a lot to us {we bought it at the Underdog’s estate sale and it was painted by the previous owner who was an artist}, it’s far from precious. I don’t think it was ever cleaned, even lightly dusted, before we bought it. The frame is all scuffed and I’m thinking of painting it out to revive it.

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02.December.2011

That lamp shade is perfect. I have the same gold chandelier at home that I hate and don’t want to replace due to the temporary nature of our stay. BUT, you came up with the solution I was looking for AND I have a large embroidery hoop and cloth at home. I’m doing this tomorrow! I am so glad I popped in today. Thank you!

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02.December.2011

I think you need to give some of your pictures of your apartment to the apartment office. Your pictures could help rent out apartments more than any stock photos. beautiful!

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03.December.2011

I love the furniture, the fabric and texture. Divine. And there are details to come, whoohoo.

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03.December.2011

Beautiful!!!
Also the peacock was used in the the early Christian church as a symbol of Christ and immortality. So the peacock decorations may be more relevant than they seem!

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04.December.2011

I love the tree and I LOVE what Layne told you (which you tweeted). Sooooo sweet !
Take care !

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