Homespun and Handmade
A Georgia couple mix heirlooms with handcrafted decor to put a dash of holiday spice into their rehabbed Southern home.
A thrifty and creative Georgia homeowner incorporates heirlooms, handicrafts and yardsale finds to fashion Yuletide decor that complements her primitive-style tastes.
Holidays stir memories,
and, as adults, we often seek to replicate favorite traditions. April Lajevardi of Covington, Georgia, is no exception. The moment her children’s Halloween costumes are packed away, her creative drive shifts into high gear. Using family heirlooms, homemade crafts and budget-friendly finds, she fashions decorations that capture cherished memories of her childhood and complement her fondness for primitive-style decorating.
During April’s teenage years, her mother worked at a historic house museum, which April enjoyed visiting, especially at Christmastime when decorators adorned the halls with exquisite decorations and greenery. April was so taken by the festive atmosphere that she recreated the finery in her childhood home. “I loved being around the decorators. I always wanted to be a decorator and, ever since I was 16, I dreamed of having my home featured in a magazine,” she explains.
If April’s mother helped influence her decorating style, then her father cultivated her thriftiness. Packed into a Volkswagen van, the family traveled to 46 states during April’s childhood, and they frequented thrift stores and yard sales during those vacations. “I’ll never forget when we drove around with a grandfather clock strapped to the top of the van,” she recalls.
April drew from these experiences to decorate the home she bought with her husband, Amir, in 2008. The couple transformed a dark maze of dated rooms by painting walls serene colors, swapping clunky light fixtures for more elegant designs, replacing kitchen counters with granite, and adding a bathtub to the master bathroom. With a growing household that included three young sons, the couple tackled many home-improvement projects while the boys were asleep.
After the dust settled, April appointed the home with an inspiring collection of repurposed items. She describes her decorating style as a modern adaptation of primitive: “I love primitive styles, but I also love pieces that speak to me.”
April has a knack for spotting bargains and orphaned furnishings with potential, especially at yard sales and thrift stores, and prefers old goods to new ones. “They all have some type of story to be told, and when I get them home, I like to reinvent them into something new,” she says, noting that their inexpensive cost gives her more freedom to experiment. “You don’t have to worry if you make a mistake when redoing an item.”
Examples of April’s unique artistry can be found in the kitchen, where she refined a drop-leaf table with shades of mustard yellow and ivory paint, and in the living room, where she transformed a wheeled box into an ottoman with a toile slipcover and fringe. In the master bedroom, she created a focal point using a mantel and secondhand fireplace accessories.
To know April is to understand that her decorating magic really happens during the holidays. She says, “I make almost all my items for the holidays or purchase them from yard sales and thrift stores. We are very much into reusing.” For example, she clipped branches from old artificial Christmas trees to make primitive feather-style trees to display throughout her home, gathered pinecones to decorate chandeliers and tabletops, and used brown craft paint to antique new Santa Claus decorations.
April sums up her love for holiday decorating by saying, “Primitive style is my favorite for each holiday. Even if the item was just created, it still gives an old-fashioned feel, making the holidays feel warm and reminiscent [of the past].”
April enhanced a pair of old ice skates with fur trim and then fastened them to the newel post in the entry with red ribbon.
Opposite: April turned an oversize stocking salvaged from a house fire into a Santa coat to accent the living room fireplace. She says, “The soot-damaged fabric was perfect.” She also repurposed orphaned desk drawers into an end table.
50 NOVEMBER 2017 An entry shelf fashioned from a whitewashed fence and pegs resonates with old-fashioned charm and creates a spot to showcase seasonal decorations such as ornaments and greenery.
Left: The clock above the front door marks the time the Lajevardis were married. Garland and lights adorn the banister. A wreath, red bow and Santa Claus door hanger ring in the holidays.
Above: The large natural tree in the living room is decked in traditional tinsel and favorite family ornaments. Coordinating wrapped gifts, children’s books and toys on a shelf above the window, and a sled propped next to the tree suggest Santa has already stopped here.
Above: The living room renovation entailed painting the walls, moldings and brick fireplace in shades of ivory. April decorates the space with an outdoor winter sports theme that includes vintage skis and bamboo poles, snowshoes, sleds and ice skates purchased at thrift shops and yard sales.
Right: A marble-topped antique sideboard in the living room ranks among April’s favorite pieces; she added a flag to a new Santa Claus for a vintage look. 53