before & after, decorating, DIY, dream house

Before & After: Taking a Break to Decorate



With the hundreds and hundreds of projects that need to be done at the Dream House – not to mention the dozens that have been started but not completed – it makes absolutely no sense that I took time out of my day to decorate the mantel. And yet that’s exactly what I did on Christmas day. Hey, all work and no play make Mr. Blandings very sad!


We spent the days leading up to Christmas diligently working on house projects. We’ve been painting and installing and cleaning and generally working hard to turn the house into the home of our dreams. And then on Christmas day we decided we should take a break and just enjoy the house. What better way to enjoy the house than by prettying it up?


One of the first things I did when I walked into the Dream House for our little Christmas vacation was hang the stockings on the mantel. Ten years ago, I got the idea to make monogrammed Christmas stockings for all of the kids that M. works with. And then, almost as an afterthought, I made one for each of us. Every year since then, we’ve found a place to display our stockings for the holidays. We’ve hung them from shelves and window sills but this year they got their due when we could hang them from a mantel.


After a few days, the stockings and the lone candle displayed on the mantel seemed a little sad to me. I had picked up some greens while we were out on Christmas Eve with the intention of making a few arrangements to fill the bare spaces around the house. And then, Christmas morning after we had opened our gifts and gotten hopped up on strong coffee, I cut into my bundles of greenery and decorated the mantel. I started with a string of white lights and then filled in with pieces of the greens. It only took two small bundles of greens to cover the mantel, and once they were on, I took some of the red and silver glass balls from the tree to give the arrangement a little color and shine. And then to finish the whole thing off …


I added an old paperback copy of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House that M. got me for Christmas! The book seems like the perfect decoration for our first Christmas in our Dream House, don’t you think?

— J. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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