...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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The Christmas eagle has landed. We completed the TV wall in the St. Nick of time to decorate for Christmas. I have always envisioned a live tree next to the hearth and this year we were able to bring that vision to life.

Growing up, my family had an annual tradition of going down to the local firehouse and picking out a live tree two weeks before Christmas. My mom liked decorating in general but when it came to Christmas she was always good about letting us kids {there were four of us} have our way with the tree. It’s a tradition that HH and I are trying to carry on with our own children.

This year we found our 8-footer in the parking lot of a Halloween costume store for $40. Classy, I know. The story of how we found our tree isn’t all that sentimental but it’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had and the minute we got it home we started feeling sad about having to take it down after the holidays.

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The tree is tall enough not to look dwarfed beneath the vaulted ceiling yet slim enough not to impede traffic flow. The size and shape are exactly what we were looking for. Just because of the sheer size of the tree, HH and I strung the lights and ribbon then let the kids hang the ornaments. I like the look of themed and carefully styled trees but they aren’t for us. We use the same bulb ornaments and tree topper that HH and I bought for our first Christmas together. Gifted ornaments from family & friends and ornaments handmade by our kids are scattered throughout. It isn’t too perfect and we prefer it that way.

Fun fact: There are seven strands of lights on our tree! Three regular strands that we normally use to light our tree + four strands of outdoor globe lights that we used on our dining patio this past summer. I love the mix. Also, an extension cord runs under the rug to power the lights. …because these are the things I think about when I see other people’s trees.

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I don’t go too crazy with holiday decor. A few festive touches are all we need to get us in the Christmas spirit. A gold candelabra {Nate Berkus for Target} and a wood bowl filled with vintage silver bells dress up the coffee table. When Mabrey’s awake, the candelabra is moved out of toddler reach and the bells become LOUD toys. {!}

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Next year I might add something above the TV but this year I’m just happy to have a legit mantel to decorate. I bought a live 25′ garland from Home Depot for $7 on sale. We have a stocking for every member of our family. It’s a first! I hung the garland and stockings with 3M Command hooks. The center stocking was HH’s as a child. The ivory velvet stockings are the boys’ and I bought them a few years ago. The outermost stockings are from Target this year. We remove the three centermost stockings when the fireplace is on. You know, to avoid fires and stuff.

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The store bought stockings were feeling a little too generic so I embellished them with some pom action. I made large ivory poms for the herringbone tweed stockings and tied them around the stocking loops. They remind me of Santa’s hat. Maybe it’s just me. I found black pom trim at JoAnn’s and hot glued it to the ivory stockings for contrast. I glued the trim onto the back side of the foldover for a simple peek-a-boo look. So, there you go. Two super easy, no-sew ways to customize meh store bought stockings.

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I may or may not have taken the pom thing too far. My gift wrapping motto this year? PUT A POM ON IT. Seriously. They are so easy to DIY and you don’t have to worry about them getting smashed or falling off. I loosely followed this video for the making of my poms but traced the bottom of a bowl and tea light to DIY my own cardboard disc. If a present adorned with a gray pom ends up under your tree this year, chances are it’s from me. The plaid and red wrapping paper is from JoAnn’s on clearance for a $1 / roll.

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The boys helped me paint the paper maché letters that made an appearance in our holiday cards. I bought the “JOY” letters from JoAnn’s several years ago. They come as cardboard brown but I painted them a light lavender the first Christmas I displayed them. This year the boys and I gave them a few coats of cheerful red and placed them on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Aren’t they the happiest lil’ things?!

Needless to say, the kids are stoked for Christmas. The first thing they do every morning is turn on the Christmas tree lights. At night, I like nothing more than lighting candles and staring into the Christmas tree abyss. Is it insane to want a Christmas tree in one’s house all year long?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


You are so right…that tree is perfect! And it looks wonderful with the garland and that AMAZING wall all done! :)


Merry merry Christmas!


Your tree is beautiful…Merry Christmas to you an your dear family.


Not insane to want a tree up all year. My sister-in-law actually put a limit on how long the tree can be up in their house because my brother kept his up for six months once. Not because he was lazy, but because LOVES Christmas and the tree. Merry Christmas to you and your family!


I love the mix of small & large bulb lights. It makes it look so sparkly!

So simple and gorgeous!


a beautiful but simple wreath and bow would look beautiful above the t.v. your tree is perfect for the spot and I love the simplicity of your décor… Merry Christmas Dana!


I was thinking the same thing! Somehow our house suddenly feels complete with a big ‘ol Christmas tree in it! (we have only lived in our house 6 months). I don’t want to take it down :( However, I won’t miss vacuuming up a billion pine needles.


Looks wonderful! I know what you mean about falling in love with a tree and never wanting to take it down. In my experience, though, that feeling wears off on Dec 27th and then I can’t wait to drag the darn needle-shedding thing to the curb.

Random additional request (actually have been meaning to write it on one of your TV wall posts but haven’t had the time): will you devote a post at some point about lofting the ceiling? I mean, you blogged about it as it happened, but it would be nice to see a final post about time/effort/cost involved, lessons learned, etc. I think the lofted ceiling is what makes your house so special and really makes the small space not feel so cramped. We might be ready to (finally!) buy a home next year, and I’m pretty sure mid-century ranches are what will be in our price range in our area… if so, I’d love to attempt a similar transformation.


i don’t think it’s weird, and i don’t even particularly like christmas decorating (shhh! (i expect i’d feel differently about live trees – they’re fairly uncommon in australia)). my nativity set, however, is so beautiful that it was put out as soon as we moved into our new house. in may. (i ordered it in march, and hubby made me wait…)


Great idea! I’ll see what I can do.

Nope not weird at all. I love our tree. Every year we get a big live one and it just makes the holidays feel special. Yours is great and it looks amazing next to your gorgeous new hearth. I love the decorations too. And I’m not sure if I missed it somewhere, but is that a wall of fun magnetic letters i see peeking in the back? Happy holidays to you and your beautiful family. Oh and I love the JOY in the kitchen as well.


To round out the whole “experience” next year, I HIGHLY suggest Spring Valley Tree Farm next year. A wonderful family owns and runs it with their now grown kids and they are such wonderful people. They also provide hot chocolate/cider and cookies for the kids after cutting down your tree! They also carry a type of fir that is local to this area (name I didn’t catch) but they said I’d know because of its soft needles. It’s PERFECT for kids and smells wonderful!


Merry Merry Christmas!!


Merry Christmas! I am amazed with your creativity with the tree decorations. It looks great!


Great tree! but what strikes me most about this is that it seems like a very manageable amount of holiday stuff to put away and store. We have very little storage here (old house, small closets) and that’s what I struggle with… the quantity of stuff I appreciate vs. what I begin to resent.


I love the idea of bringing the outside lights in!!! I wanted to do that this year with my tree but I was too afraid I’d light the house on fire… good to know that won’t happen.


What I love about this is that it looks like a very reasonable amount if stuff to put away. That’s where my mind is right now :-)


Beautiful, beautiful. You should keep the tree up until the shedding needles start getting annoying or looking bad. Call it a Christmas/ New Year tree.
I grew up with the SAME EXACT stocking as HH’s! My Mom just mailed it to me this year to hang along with my three kids’ and husband’s stockings. It reminds me of so many great childhood Christmas times.


I used the pom pom method for my gift wrapping last year!

I hope you enjoyed the holidays!



Hi Dana,

My wife and I are just admiring your living room. We have almost the exact same layout and ceiling. We were wondering how you’ve managed to light the room in the evenings. We’re having trouble figuring out how to do it here during dark Vancouver evenings. Any chance you can post/send evening shots?




Beautiful! Hope your family had a very merry Christmas!


I would love to know where you got the brown leather pouf from. I’ve been looking for something similar, thanks!


Joss & Main!


I would love to share low light shots in the future. Now that the TV wall is finished, I’m all for it! We have track lighting along both sides {kitchen and living room} of the ridge beam at the apex of the ceiling. The track includes seven bulbs and is on a dimmer. Other artificial light sources for the main living space include globe pendants above the island {also on a dimmer switch}, a wall sconce above the sink, under and over-cabinet lighting, a floor lamp and two accent lamps. Our hood has task lighting as well that we sometimes turn on for mood lighting in the evenings.


I know…is it bad that I tend to think about the inevitable task of putting everything away while I’m setting it up?? It helps that we don’t have the room to store a bunch of holiday decor.


I have four red & green storage totes in the attic that contain all of our Christmas-y decor – minus the tree. That’s all we have room for!


Ooooh, thank you! We might have to try them next year.


Yes, it is! I WILL post about that soon.


I totally love your Christmas tree and decorations! It’s looking very classy. And I can imagine you’ll be sad to take it down after the holidays… I would be too! :-)
Hope you had a great Christmas and I wish you a super healthy, magical and lovely 2014!!
Inge x


My brother has the same stocking from when he was a kid! My mom made us each one from a Bucilla kit, and they are the subject of much family lore. I continued the handmade tradition by cross stitching ones for my boys and working on my nieces. My brother and sil were very sad when they unpacked it this year because a mouse got to it. Who made your husband’s?

That is a great tree.


I’m seconding this request! I too would like to do something similar when we move later this year and you’re the first DIY blogger I’ve come across that actually DIYed a lofted ceiling. I haven’t stopped talking about your ceiling to my husband since I found your blog back in August. A wrap-up post on what Jen’s wrote above would be so fantastic!

Happy New Year!


Thanks so much for your detailed response Dana. Looking forward to seeing more of your reno (which looks almost complete, yes?).


Hi Dana, Happy Holidays! I have an “old” question…can you tell me where to find the post on your living room rug? I remember it talking about the softness, pile,…etc. and I can’t seem to find it in any of my searches. We’re in the market for a large rug & large rug = $$ so I’m trying to do as much research as possible. Once again, your blog is providing me with research. Thanks for all the info!


Dana, I’ve missed you!!! I love the cardboard JOY in the back. I think it’s such an inexpensive but artsy way to decorate for the holidays. I’m thinking that during the year I can do the same thing in my daughters room spelling out her name!


Here’s the link…


It’s still the best hangout spot in our house!


My Mom made it. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember.


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