Have yourself a merry little (or large) Christmas tree

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and the Christmas tree lots are filled with trees looking for good homes!

If I had my way, I would have a tree in every room. As it is, I always have one large tree, a small office tree and some even smaller smaller trees that are part of vignettes that include an antique, objects from nature or some design element in my home.

That's why it was such a treat for me to spend Sunday afternoon at the final day of Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art. Created by area designers and businesses, the trees were,  well, spectacular. As were the table creations, gingerbread houses, ornaments and holiday rooms.

This year, I have encouraged my southwest Florida decorating clients to keep their holiday decorating simple. Gathering your most cherished Christmas pieces together rather for a display rather than covering every surface, makes for much more relaxing holiday home.  For tips for holiday decorating like a pro, read my article in the Fort Myers News-Press.

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Decorate like a pro this holiday season

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Tips for decorating like a pro this holiday season

Photo of velvet stockings from West ElmVelvet monogramed stockings from West Elm add traditional fun to holiday decor. Photo: West Elm.

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• Dec. 8, 2012

If you are waiting for inspiration to motivate you to start (or finish) your holiday decorating, this may be a good weekend to spring into action! The good news: there are lots of ideas this season for easy and beautiful designs that will have you decorating your home like a pro!

Photo of jewel tone ornaments from Pottery BarnAdd some bling to your holiday with Pottery barn's jewel tone eclectic ornaments. Photo: Pottery Barn.If you are thinking about changing or updating your look this year, consider  adding some of the popular metallics, bling, jewel tones, feathers and fresh, shiny colors to your home.  Think moderation and be selective!

If you’re in a time crunch, and who isn’t, Frontgate lets you create your own signature style with a choice of three beautiful design options. Select one and you will receive everything that you need for the tree from ornaments, enhancers to ribbon and trim.  It also includes coordinating garland and a decorated wreath.  It couldn’t be easier. Almost like Christmas in a box. www.frontgate.com.

Use your traditional favorites but don’t be afraid to try something new.  Some of our favorite decorating tips are listed below. Use them and tell your friends that you hired a designer to help this year!

Tips for holiday decorating like a pro

Make an entrance! Start at the front door and take your door from drab to fab with a fresh pop of color!  Think greens, reds, turquoise (if you are bold). Remember, it is only paint, so don’t be afraid!  And don’t stop there! Take last year’s wreath and give it a makeover to complement the door.  Beautiful shells, branches, colorful ribbons will help you create a new wreath in no time. A huge impact with minimum expense and effort.

Use what you have! Don’t put everything away and transform your home into a winter wonderland.  Use what you have in your home as your stage.  If you have a piece of artwork that you love over a mantle or table, start there and add holiday decorations that compliment it. And don’t forget: what comes from nature works best!

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Simple Pleasures: A vintage piece becomes a holiday treasure

It was easy to walk right past this little gem at the antique market in Mt. Dora.

Photo of vintage, shabby chic chair before

Someone had tossed some dried twigs on top of it and this vintage, white rocking chair didn't have much of chance with all of the other great pieces for sale. Plus, it was covered with dirt.

But the minute I saw it, I knew it was going home with me. More shabby than chic, it's white paint is very weathered. Perfect. Someone put a lot of love into making it as it has a pretty curved back. It must have spent many years on someone's porch. And now it was looking for a new home.

So, after negotiating a rock bottom price, into my car it went. I had no idea how I would repurpose it but as I always tell my clients, when something speaks to you, buy it. You will find a place.

Photo of vintage chair repurposed for ChristmasAfter a good bath and some gluing, it has found the perfect home. Years ago, a dear friend in Orlando gave me two holiday reindeer (dressed for Christmas dinner) that she purchased at an auction for a children's charity. It has become my most treasured holiday decoration. Today, they sit in my new (old) chair on my front porch with a holly berry wreath on the back.

Simple pleasures really are the best.


Want to turn plain rooms into Spectacular Spaces? I can help. Contact me!

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Freshen up your home heading into the holidays!

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press• December 3, 2011

It always happens just as we are heading into the holidays.

I receive calls from clients who want to do a mini home makeover before the out-of-town guests and friends arrive.  Everyone wants their home to look its best but we are all surprised that the holidays came upon us so fast and before we have time to redo our home into absolute perfection!

Wait.  Stop.  Take a breath!

We can’t do it all so I have come up with a short list that will refresh your home before you begin your holiday decorating.  Not a total makeover but some easy and painless tips:

Photo of Pottery barn entry tableThis stylish table from Pottery Barn is perfect for bringing organization to busy family spaces. With a compact profile and simple silhouette it is perfect for smaller entry areas.• Start at the front door.  Literally with the door! Transform the entry to your home with a new paint color.  This is inexpensive and fun. It will be a nice change for a boring front door that has been the same color for far too long.  The color depends upon your exterior color but if it is a neutral tone, try a red, turquoise, blue or orange shade.

• Add some new plants to the front porch and clear out any that have seen better days!

• Before you bring out your décor items, give your home a quick decluttering. Take 15 minutes and put items away that are taking up extra space on surfaces that you will need for your holiday treasures.  

• If new bedding is on your list, now is a good time.  Nothing transforms a master bedroom and guest bedroom like new linens and comforters.  And when the holiday stress sets in, a beautifully made bed to sink into is pure bliss!

• As much as you would like, you probably do notPhoto of a blue doorThis beautiful blue door and surrounding plants say “welcome” to your guests during the holidays or any day! have time for new window treatments but you do have time to order a beautiful cornice for a window or two.  Pick out some beautiful fabric find an upholsterer and they can help you with a cornice that will change the room. Or do it yourself with some easy step-by-step directions that are readily available online.

• Open the windows and light scented candles, add potpourri and seasonal aromatherapy.

• Since we all have guests over the holidays, make sure that you have a place in your entry near the front door where visitors can put their bags and purses.  A chair or a bench or a wide table. Takes away that awkward “what do I do with my bag” moment when guests arrive. And make this a permanent part of your entry.

• This is a good time of year to add some new pillows and throws to your couches.  Try out a new color that pops and compliments your wall color (no, you do not have time to repaint!).

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Travels: Searching for Christmas (found it!)

Photo of rosesIt was a cold, rainy day in Raleigh but it did not stop my little group of friends from heading to our much anticipated and long-awaited visit to the Historic Oakwood candlelight tour this past weekend.

Now, it seems like Christmas!  Not to mention that any time I can manage to get into beautiful old homes that are decorated for the holidays, meet the owners and hear stories about their history...well, let's just say it is a really good day for me.  Mix that with some good friends, breaks for hot tea and just being back in North Carolina, it it doesn't get any better than that.

In 1865, Oakwood was a campground for Sherman's Union troops.  By the 1870s it was sold to developers and most of the houses were built in the North Carolina vernacular style out of heart of pine, tin roofs or wooden shingles.  The dirt streets were lined with trees and most families kept livestock.  By the 1890s it was a fashionable suburb.  The streets were lit with gaslights and houses were built in the Queen Anne style with steep slate roofs, gables and towers, stained glass and a palate of paint colors.Photo of holiday decorated house

As the years went on and various styles dominated, Oakwood fell into decline.  The automobile had people heading to the suburbs and houses were converted into apartments and boarding houses.  By 1972, it was considered of little value and the State considered demolishing it to make room for an expressway.  I am happy that I did not see Oakwood then.  It must have been very sad.

Photo of holiday wreathBut this story has a happy ending.  People began to appreciate Oakwood and cared enough about it to restore it to its former glory.  They fought and won against the expressway.  The old homes were restored one by one to their original charm.  Today it is beautiful and a place that I love to visit.  And dream about owning one of the inspiring homes.  I could see myself living here.

Thankfully, the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood was formed and in 1974 it was designated Raleigh's first National Register Historic District.  It is a flourishing neighborhood with houses that are lovingly cared for.  On this weekend, a dozen homes open for the Photo of Oakwood Village sign annual candlelight tour.  It is a gift to all of us to experience these beautiful historic homes decorated like Christmas presents.   Filled with tons of great decorating ideas.

Thank you Oakwood.  May you live for another hundred years.

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Simple tips for beautiful holiday decorating

Simple tips for beautiful holiday decorating

Check out my latest Home Inspirations column in the Fort Myers News-Press for tips on stress-free holiday decorating.

News-Press, November 27, 2010 by  Wrenda Goodwyn

Ready or not, Santa is headed to southwest Florida. With only a few weeks to go, it is time to get your decorating plans together.   And "plan" is the key word!
When I moved to Florida one December many years ago, it just did not seem like the holidays. Each year at about this time, I would set out to decorate every square inch o my home in an attempt to fill my house with Christmas spirit.  I missed the white candles in every window, fireplaces and beautiful "real" wreaths and trees that were the tradition in Virginia where I grew up.

This holiday season, like many others, I will be enjoying our beautiful white beaches and blue waters. The colors found in sea glass are my themed holiday decor this year. It all seems very much like the holiday season to me now. Just different.Photo of Christmas decorations

When I began my decorating business, everything changed. I realized that simple really is better when it comes to the holidays. I have had years to practice that philosophy in my own home and in those of my clients. I have grown to love Florida at Christmas.

There are advantages to a more simple (but beautiful) decorating scheme. It is prettier. There is less clutter. You can appreciate the quality of your decor rather than creating visual overload with too much. An added benefit: there is less to put away when the season is over.

My tips for a simple and easy holiday plan include: 

Large wreath on the front door. I love shells on a twig or vine wreath. Something that says “Florida.” Trim with a colorful bow.

Use real plants. Poinsettias (red, white and pink) on the front porch, in the entry and throughout the house.

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