Memories of Christmas in an Old House

Dining room in our previous 1912 house

Time marches on and at some point in one’s life the decision to downsize comes up. This is what we did two Decembers ago and although it was a good choice for our lifestyle, what I miss the most about our 1912 house is Christmas decorating. Old houses are meant for decorating in such a way that would appear as ‘over-the-top’ in a more modern house.

Every doorway was decorated in greenery

Because I taught a class called ‘Christmas Decorating for The Heritage Home’ for the City of Edmonton’s This Old Edmonton House series of seminars, I started my decorating early. The class was held in our home so everything had to be completed by November 15th at the latest. It was necessary to use faux greenery as fresh greens wouldn’t have lasted. (I saved those for decorating the outside of the house.)

At the zenith of my decorating efforts, it would take me three days to complete everything to my satisfaction. These pictures were taken when I was more restrained in my tastes.

This garland was so pretty when it was all lit up.

This photo shows a simple poinsettia but eventually this was replaced by a tall, skinny tree all decorated with my antique Christmas decorations. Every doorway was crowned with greenery, every window had a wreath and every bannister had a garland.

Hand painted lamp on an antique sideboard.

Sideboards are perfect places to create Christmas vignettes. The picture above shows a hand painted lamp surrounded by tussie-mussie vases and a berry swag. A large berry swag decorated the crown of another sideboard in the room – an 1850’s Victorian piece with lots of mirrors to reflect the light from the candles I lit. I’d hang greenery from the arms of the room’s pan chandelier too. Sigh…

Antique decorations from my collection

I’ve been collecting antique Christmas decorations since when I first opened my antique store in the 1990’s. One of my customers was an avid collector and seller of Christmas anything and I bought several pieces from her over the years. Thankfully I can still enjoy these decorations in our now more modern surroundings.

So, if you live in an old house right now, I envy you. For the rest of us, we’ll make the best of it and create a special Christmas feeling with what we have. It’s so important that we make the effort – especially this year when our lives are turned upside down and we’re not sure if that light at the end of the tunnel is real or a mirage.

Merry Christmas and Best wishes to you and your family for a special, and memorable Christmas 2020!

Johanne

4 responses to “Memories of Christmas in an Old House

  1. Some great decorating and what a fabulous old house. From the day we eloped I said I was supposed to live in a old Victorian house filled with antiques. Never happened. You’re right about some vintage things not looking ‘right’ in a new condo or something similar. I love your antique Christmas decorations. Look what they do just by setting on top of a sideboard. We downsized 5 years ago and lost a thousand square feet so several of our antique oak pieces reside in our kid’s homes now. I still miss some of the pieces but time marches on. Great story…

    • Thanks for the kind words. You’re right – some of the pieces don’t work in a newer setting. It all depends on scale, colour and style. Hopwever sometimes it’s surprising what still does work. I cheated a bit by making our guest bedroom (which isn’t too large) filled only with antiques. That way things don’t fight each other. Keeping them in the family works too if kids want what their parents have! 🙂

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