1, 2, 3 Decorate

By Sheila Brady Photographs by Ashley Fraser

Mrs. Claus gets glitzy

If Connie Lebrun could have any job in the world, it would be as a permanent replacement for the matriarch of Christmas: Mrs. Claus.The impish Lebrun has a Mrs. Claus dress and she also dressed her husband, Gilles, as Santa and sent him out to their backyard on Christmas Eve when their two children, Ashley and Jason, were toddlers.

Christmas is a magical time for Lebrun, whose day job involves pulling together sponsors for CHEO’s glitzy lottery homes. Lebrun, CHEO’s corporate development officer, has worked closely with designer Donna Correy on the past four lottery homes, including the 2011 edition outside Manotick. As soon as Halloween is over, this holiday devotee decorates her family’s Orléans home where she sets up two trees inside, and three outside. The house is decked out in lights and holiday music is on heavy rotation on the sound system.

It didn’t take much to convince the holiday elf to dip into her imagination and decorate the mantel in the 2011 lottery home’s taupe- and pewter-coloured living room.

Living Lighting had already added a big helping of glitz to the modest room, with a smoky-grey suspended glass chandelier, which inspired Leb- run to pick up on the theme and head to Home- Sense and Home Outfitters for helpings of red berries, white and ruby candles, green boughs and frosted pine cones. Then, she went to work.
“I spent about an hour with a glue gun,” says Lebrun, who used a metal base from a former wreath to anchor the strips of green foliage. She tucked frosted pine cones into the boughs, added silver and red decorations and silver glass balls.

The boughs and decorations form the centre of the mantel arrangement, leaving space at either end for candle power. On the left, Lebrun set two elevated silver candle holders that were encrusted with rings of faux diamonds. On the right, a trio of ruby red candles sat on a small glass tray and near- by she tucked a white candle inside a glass Christ- mas cone. The candle glow added a bit of magic to the hefty white mantel in the elegant room.

“I would do this in my house,” says Lebrun, who will be hosting a November gathering of women who live on her Orléans street.
You may see some of Lebrun’s holiday flair at the lottery home, which is open until mid-December. (www.dreamofalifetime.ca)

Scrimping, Swedish style

Decorating with a Swedish edge will keep your holiday spending in check, while dressing your living and dining
rooms in shades of red and white, promises Andrea Mills, IKEA’s public relations specialist and an unofficial Tomte for the coming holiday sea- son. (Tomte is a Christmas gnome who is reputed to live in the forest and is charged with handing out gifts after a resplendent Christmas Eve smorgasbord of ham, pork, fish and servings of Risgryngrot, a tasty rice porridge with a single almond perched on top.)

To be sure of the ideal red and white holiday gathering, here are Mills’s decorating tips for the living and dining rooms.
First, the living room. The holidays centre around nature in Sweden, with families setting up a tree a few days before Christmas, hanging freshly-made gingerbread biscuits on the boughs and setting out white amaryllis plants, red poinsettias and pots of red and white tulips.

Mills says co-ordinated paper will avoid the visual mishmash of colours and patterns under your tree and notes that before the new store opens, the old IKEA store in the Pinecrest Mall will be packed with holiday decorations, from wrapping paper to white, sparkling stars. (But get there soon because the new store, which is slated to open Dec. 7, won’t be stocking holiday items or real Christmas trees. The original Pinecrest location closes permanently Dec. 4.) Choose wrap- ping paper that co-ordinates with the rest of your decorations for a polished look.

Red and white throws and cushions add loads of holiday flair without screaming Christmas, which means you can keep them around after the holidays wrap up. IKEA’s IDGRAN heart-patterned cushion and BERTA RUTA red-and-white-checked fabrics are great for the holidays, but will also be a hit on Valentine’s Day or at a summer barbecue.

Candles are another must, says Mills. A dim glow is the easiest way to add instant atmosphere. Swap out white votives or tapers for a festive red, green, silver or gold. A series of ROTERA lanterns lined up along a windowsill or mantel make a great decoration. Bonus: The simple star pattern won’t look out of place on your balcony or in your backyard this summer.
When it comes to a tree, Mills says it’s not a must. A simple decoration on a door knob or pretty ornaments dangling from a chandelier can create a beautiful holiday scene.

For the dining room, Mills offered five dollar- smart ideas to serve up some holiday glitter. First, instead of spending big dollars on a floral centre- piece (they also take up a lot of space and wilt within days), arrange Christmas balls or pretty ornaments in a large glass, says Mills. Besides, unlike unwieldy arrangements, it’s low so guests can easily see one another across the table and it’s unscented so it won’t interfere with the food or wine.

And neither will wrapping paper. This season, you can leave your old table runner in the closet and roll wrapping paper down the centre of your simple white tablecloth. It offers instant impact and it’s affordable and recyclable. Plus, there’s no need for ironing, says Mills.

For serving, there’s IKEA’s KAVALKAD limited series of patterned cookware, which can go from stove to table. If you co-ordinate with your dishes and glassware, your table will look decorated and well-planned without even trying.

If this is your first time hosting Christmas dinner, don’t sweat the china. Instead, go with simple white dishes, suggests Mills. When there is more money in the budget, mix in some different patterns and shades of white. White dishes get a first-class rating when dressed up with linen napkins, candles and flowers.

Lee-Ann Lacroix decorated this wreath with limes, oranges and oversized magnolias and faux pomegranates.

Lee-Ann Lacroix decorated this wreath with limes, oranges and oversized magnolias and faux pomegranates.

Fresh meets faux

Interior decorator Lee-Ann Lacroix lets out a huge laugh when her partner in crime, makeup artist Leslie-Anne Barrett,
dubs the five-foot, 11-inch former model “Legs, the decorating fairy.”

“I don’t need a ladder when I put the star on top of our tree,” says Lacroix, while adjusting a lavish wreath on the front door of a west side home. “This is a splurge wreath,” Lacroix readily admits. “But it fits the house.”

She’s right, of course.

Lacroix asked Joanne Smith, owner of Brantim Country Garden Centre Farm outside of Almonte, to craft a large wreath of green boughs and then she went to work with her glue gun.

She glued oversized ruby-red magnolias and faux pomegranates and then tucked in real limes and mandarin oranges. “The orange really pops, accenting the green,” says Lacroix, who adds that the fresh fruit will freeze when the weather turns cold and last for weeks.

Instead of coating the fruit in sugar, which at- tracts unwanted bugs, she dabs some glue on it and uses kosher salt. “It looks like ice crystals and doesn’t attract bugs.”

Besides the grocery store, Lacroix went shop- ping for lime-green ribbon and exotic lime green tassels and fringe at C&M Textiles on Merivale Road. “The tassels were expensive ($150), but the colours were right. The ribbons were very affordable.”
She could have shopped at other fabric shops for more affordable tassels, but not found the lime-green colour, a shade that’s hot this year, that brought the wreath alive.

“Legs” did save on the urn and the topiary, both of which were from her own backyard. She painted the resin pot a taupe shade and re-used the topiary, which she found three years ago at HomeSense. Again, Joanne Smith from Brantim Farms made a wreath for the top of the urn and Lacroix went to work with her glue gun, assembling fruit, magnolias and a combination of fresh and faux fruit. She left the topiary natural, only dusting it with artificial snow.

“We got away with one urn, because the wreath is large and carries the front of the house well.”



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