Decorate with Crafts

Calm After the Storm

Create a relaxing retreat where you can recover from the holiday hustle-bustle with no-stress decorating ideas from the Country Sampler stylists.

Every year during Christmas, the downstairs family room of Hampshire, Illinois, homeowners Cally and Dean Powrozek experiences a blizzard of holiday activity. From adults handing out gifts to the couple's four grandchildren zooming around playing with their new toys, the welcoming space is the perfect spot for the large family's celebration. "That's the only place in the house where we all fit," Cally says. "It's a real free-for-all with all the grandkids!"

Thanks to its soft carpet and brick fireplace, the space has always been comfortable. However, the Powrozeks put their own spin on it after moving in, largely to make it a better showcase for their treasure trove of unique antiques. "The basement was already finished, but we redid a lot," Cally notes. "We put in new trim, painted the walls and added beadboard to make it more to our taste."

The family room may undergo a flurry of fun at Christmas, but it doesn't get used very much the rest of the year, Cally explains. To help her with her New Year's resolution to spend more time in the lower-level living space, Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Debbie Plantery and Nancy Borsodi offered up their decorating suggestions. "The room is already inviting, but we wanted to add touches that make the room feel like the perfect place to snuggle up," Debbie says. Read on for 17 ways to warm up any room for winter.

The Cart of the Matter
1. Mobilize Your Efforts. Take a tea cart or other wheeled caddy back to its roots: Task it with hosting a buffet of beverage garnishes. Load jars of cinnamon and nutmeg into a spice holder, and fill a glass canister with marshmallows.
2. Spice Things Up. Arrange cinnamon sticks around a straight-sided vase, using a rubber band to hold the sticks in place. Camouflage the band with homespun ribbon, and tuck greenery into the container.
3. See the Signs. "Signs don't always have to go on the wall," Sally-Jo advises. "Try propping one up in the middle of a display. This stenciled sign was the perfect complement to the hot chocolate service on the tray above it."

Brick by Brick
4. Shutter Down. Bring the style of any hearth up a few notches by enhancing its opening with a pair of shutters.
5. Get the Blues. Work an accent color into an otherwise neutral scene. Here, the blue shutters pave the way for same-hued items, including a crock, a lantern and petite pillows on the rocking chair.
6. Go Soft. "Fabric touches always help make a space feel cozy," Nancy says. She tied fabric around the battery candle in the lantern and set another battery candle in a wood bowl full of yarn balls.
7. Think Greens. Another no-fail way to soften a scene is via seasonal greenery, such as the sprigs tucked into the crock on the hearth and the bough tied onto the round breadboard above the mantel.
8. Go Around. The breadboard, grouped with the lantern and a few yellowware bowls on a bench, balances the coverlet-displaying yarn stretcher on the other side of the mantel.

Open Invitation
9. Take a Pass-Through. Previously lacking much personality, this pass-through window from the stairs to the family room now features plenty of country charm thanks to some scalloped green-painted wood picked up at a flea market and turned into a cornice.
10. Suit Your Shelf. The weathered cornice crowns a lamp and winter-themed book letters resting on the ledge, further enhancing the formerly ho-hum spot.
11. Kid Around. The Powrozeks love having their four grandchildren over, so adding kid-friendly features was a no-brainer for the family room -- but Cally also likes her decor to suit her country style. No problem: To complement the chalkboard, Sally-Jo installed jars for stashing art supplies on a weathered wood plank and mounted a star above for extra dimension. Nearby, a plate rack offers more space for stowing smalls.
12. Be Theatrical. Make a statement by choosing distinctive furniture, such as this section of charming vintage theater seats. To soften the hard surface, dress a pillow in a cozy sweater, wrapping the arms around the back.

Cradle and All
13. Convert Your Assets. Look around for underappreciated items that are due for a makeover. Here, an antique cradle becomes a creative coffee table with its rockers cut off and a thick sheet of glass placed between its posts.
14. Think Small. On the tabletop, an old doll cradle (also with its rockers removed) hosts an array of natural goods and a wood scoop. A nearby candle display plays off the toy theme, with a wheel from a vintage kid-size car hosting an electric taper.
15. Coordinate Efforts. When outfitting your seating area with textiles, choose accessories with a similar feel. Here, a feed sack-inspired "Love" pillow has a farmhouse look that mixes nicely with a blue plaid blanket and pillows.
16. Widen Your Base. "Give a smaller accent more oomph by crafting a custom backdrop for it," Debbie suggests. To enhance the country-themed canvas print on the ledge, she joined three pieces of barnwood, offsetting the center board to draw attention and make room for a star ornament. She painted the base blue to coordinate with the pillows and blanket before attaching the print.
17. Circle Up. Similar to the customized sign backdrop -- but without the DIY element -- a sifter serves as a unique host for a framed family photo. Its circular shape is repeated by a row of wire baskets hung on a tobacco stick and accented with berries to the left and Cally's father's canning jars on the ledge.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

Tin spices holder, BJ's Country Charm
Hot Cocoa stencil, Scrappin' Along Craft Stencils

Lantern and 6" battery candle, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Round decorative breadboard, Olde Farm Creek
Luminara pillar candle, Raggedy Junction
Children's rocking chair, The Sittin Shop
Custom house crock, Randall's Specialties
Rustic miner's electric lantern, Old Time Rustic Cottage

Tall onion lamp, Homespun Blessings
Reclaimed book letters, Olde Farm Creek
Amish barn star,

Country Phrases canvas print, Country Sampler
Love burlap pillow and Kelsch #2 blanket and decorative pillows, Olde Farm Creek
Luminara grubbie taper candle, Raggedy Junction

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad, Nancy Borsodi & Debbie Plantery