The holidays are festive, fabulous, meaningful and … expensive.
Add up all of the gifts, gas for outings, greeting cards, fancy attire, decadent food and plentiful drinks, and there’s not much left in your wallet to decorate your home with anything new or noteworthy. Or so it seemed until we put three local design gurus to the test with $25 and the task to decorate a mantel on a dime.
Each designer had a week to shop and instructions to decorate for one of three holiday events: Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve. They were asked to spend the majority of their money on the focal points for their displays while using items already on hand to finish the looks. Some went over budget.
See how they did when we asked them to demonstrate their thrifty holiday styles on a living room mantel in Hyde Park.
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A giving hearth: Happy Hanukkah!
Erica Kay Remodeling & Design
Menorah and candles from Marshalls: $20
Gift wrap and boxes from Wal-Mart: $6
Blue and silver ornaments from Hobby Lobby: $1 with coupon
Erica Kay Thowe, designer and owner of Erica Kay Remodeling & Design, has a cheery, can-do personality, so she didn’t let it bother her when she found a less than stellar selection of Hanukkah décor at area stores. She happened upon a silver menorah at Marshalls, along with candles, that were very similar in style to a pair of tall candlesticks that she already had at home.
Sticking with blue and white (and silver to add a little sparkle) was a given, but Thowe said she had trouble coming up with an idea that encompassed all of the symbols, rituals and traditions that hold significance during the eight days and nights of Hanukkah. She also went over budget by $2.
“Fortunately, I work with a wonderful client who is Jewish, so I gave her a call for ideas,” said Thowe, who decided to feature eight gifts in her display for a design that was aesthetic and practical. “I bought eight small candy boxes and one giant roll of glitter wrapping paper to use the gifts as decoration.”
Thowe had the hurricane vases on hand to house the glittering ornaments that she bought for $1 at Hobby Lobby. She used an existing roll of curly, silver ribbon to flow throughout the design, along with one of her chalkboards from home.
“I wanted to use wooden dreidels in my design too in one of the hurricane vases, but I couldn’t find them and stay within budget,” explained Thowe, who also suggested using a mirror on the wall behind the mantel arrangement to enhance the glow from the menorah.
Less money, more time: Happy New Year!
Jennifer Lake Home Staging & Redesign
Clothespins and chalkboard from Michaels: $11
Glitter glue from Dollar Tree: $1
Gold and silver ornaments from Target: $5
Cardstock from Hobby Lobby: $3
Clock from the Salvation Army: $4
Jennifer Lake built her business around budgets. A home stager and redesign expert, Lake said her clients typically don’t want to spend money or buy anything new, especially when they are trying to sell a property. Lake came prepared to tackle the mantel challenge with a suitcase full of her style ideas, along with glitter glue and sticky tape.
For her New Year’s Eve concept, Lake envisioned a clock to signify the infamous countdown to a new year. Little did she know that one clock would grow into several, as she began to pull clocks of all styles, contemporary and antique, from all over her home.
To complete the collection, she purchased a $4 brass clock from the Salvation Army. She removed all of the batteries from the clocks and set them to midnight.
“Everybody has clocks, and everybody has something sparkly,” said Lake, who bought the chalkboard that she used in her design, although they are becoming a staple in today’s home décor.
Lake was going for “whimsy” with her take on an array of timepieces. She chose a metallic color palate to enhance the metals on the clocks, but she suggested that the colors for her design could easily be changed to suit any taste by switching out the cardstock, candles or ornaments.
“I traced a card that I already had on cardstock to cut out the shapes for the banner,” said Lake of her “2015” signage that she hung from a silver Christmas garland with clothespins covered in glitter glue.
Oh, Christmas Branch: Merry Christmas!
Connie Fey, Interior Designer at Madden-McFarland
Frosted vine: $5
Stem for flowers: $3
All from Baisch & Skinner Wholesale Floral Distributors in North Kansas City
Connie Fey, interior designer at Madden-McFarland Furniture & Design Boutique, laughed when presented with a gift card that had a balance of $25. She also went over her budget by $7. She asked a lot of concerned questions and asked if she could use items from nature, such as branches. Envisioning a modern display of spray-painted branches, Fey surprised all of us with a sustainable, minimalist design that seemed to exemplify the simple elegance of the Christmas season.
Fey found a branch at Baisch & Skinner Wholesale Floral Distributors in North Kansas City that happened to be an almost a 9-foot match for our mantel. It was dusted with faux moss, which lent to its appeal of authenticity, said Fey, who added that anyone could find a branch from the yard and add inexpensive faux moss with glue or spray adhesive.
“If you went out to the woods, you could do this and make it a totally organic arrangement,” she said. “I used greenery from my backyard like holly and evergreens, along with the two pink poinsettias from Baisch & Skinner, and then kept adding things until I got the cluster that I wanted.”
Fey employed her handy husband to drill holes in blocks of wood that Fey painted white to display the branch. Then, she inserted branches with a v-shape into the holes in the wood with hot glue. She placed the branch on the makeshift display stand and used a zip tie to add the final floral arrangement.
Fey peppered the arrangement with snowflake ornaments that she hot glued onto picks. She used spray glitter on the entire arrangement to give it a frosted, winter glow. Fey said that the arrangement could be used during any season or holiday with a simple switch in floral selections and suggested using calla lilies for Easter and roses for Valentine’s Day.
Along with the branch, Fey included a moss ball, candles and three turtle doves in her mantel exhibit, all from her existing collection of home décor. She also added blocks of artwork that she purchased from the Plaza Art Fair from artist Joseph Bradley, who also sells pieces of his collection online at josephbradleystudio.com. Similar blocks could be made by silver leafing and decoupaging wood blocks.