Christmas Cozy


Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Han­nah Roberts

A charm­ing Mid­west home wel­comes the hol­i­days in a rich and rus­tic fash­ion.

In a his­tor­i­cal neigh­bor­hood in north­ern Michi­gan, Maria Mar­cusse and her hus­band Karl have spent the last three years liv­ing in a dar­ling 4,000-square-foot Vic­to­rian.

It was built for a lum­ber baron over a cen­tury ago, back when the log­ging in­dus­try drove the lo­cal econ­omy. “There are sev­eral other houses like ours here that have a sim­i­lar his­tory; our town has done a great job in pre­serv­ing them,” Maria says. “When we saw our home go up for sale, we were com­pelled to buy it due to its rich his­tory and beau­ti­ful vin­tage features!”

Once they ac­quired their Vic­to­rian trea­sure, Maria set to work find­ing wor­thy pieces to fill the in­side. “I want our home to have a wel­com­ing, cozy feel for all who visit here,” she says. “Noth­ing [in­side] re­ally matches, per se, but it all seems to fit.”


While she ob­vi­ously has a knack for fill­ing spa­ces, Maria is the first to point out that her ideas don’t come from thin air. “I find in­spi­ra­tion for dec­o­rat­ing ev­ery­where,” she says. “My mom and aunts have great dec­o­rat­ing style, and I love peek­ing into their gor­geous homes for in­spi­ra­tion.”

Maria also thrills for dec­o­rat­ing mag­a­zines, which have long been the best part of her gro­cery store trips. Her en­thu­si­asm for the dec­o­rat­ing world has only ex­panded with the rise of dé­cor blogs—of which Maria her­self has be­come an in­spir­ing part. “I have be­come ac­quainted with new friends across the coun­try and world—th­ese women are ex­tremely tal­ented and I have been truly in­spired by their blogs,” she says.

Once she has ideas swirling, she goes to a va­ri­ety of places to find the look she needs—and to fur­ther in­dulge in the vin­tage spirit. “I love an­tiques shops and flea mar­kets,” she says. “Strolling amongst the many found trea­sures for sale there re­ally gets my heart pump­ing. You never know what you might find just around the next cor­ner.” As an on­line shop cu­ra­tor her­self, she also fre­quents Etsy and other on­line shops for even more op­tions and bits of in­spi­ra­tion.


The hol­i­days fea­ture promi­nently in both Maria’s blog, Rusty Hinge, and in her heart—be­cause, in her words, “It is never too early to start plan­ning your merry Christmas!” She of­fers a va­ri­ety of cheery vin­tage pieces in her on­line shop in ad­di­tion to the many jew­els that adorn her own home dur­ing the hol­i­days. “I ac­tu­ally pre­fer the mis­matched look—and this con­cept car­ries over to my Christmas dec­o­rat­ing,” she says. “For in­stance, I en­joy in­cor­po­rat­ing my vin­tage Christmas col­lec­tions, such as vin­tage bot­tle­brush trees and Shiny Brite mer­cury glass or­na­ments.”

Since Maria’s love for Christmas per­sists through­out the year, it’s not sur­pris­ing that she’s man­aged to blend her year-round dé­cor ef­fort­lessly with her hol­i­day adorn­ments. “I do love in­cor­po­rat­ing ex­ist­ing home dé­cor in my dec­o­rat­ing scheme just by giv­ing it a Christmas twist,” she says. “I add a fes­tive hol­i­day touch to th­ese loved and well-worn pieces by in­tro­duc­ing pine greens, gar­land, red win­ter berries or a small table­top Christmas tree.”

While she makes a point to add at least a touch of Christmas magic to ev­ery space in the house, a few are par­tic­u­larly close to her heart. “My fa­vorite room to dec­o­rate is our en­try room with the mas­sive, carved wood, open stair­case,” she says. “Our front door opens up to our large en­try space with an an­tique chan­de­lier hang­ing from the 10-foot ceil­ing and the im­pres­sive stair­case just be­yond. I love dress­ing up that stair­case with lights or gar­land each year and giv­ing the chan­de­lier ex­tra sparkle with vin­tage sleigh bells or Shiny Brite or­na­ments.”


As a nat­u­ral host­ess, few things give Maria greater joy than shar­ing that special Christ­mas­time hospitality with oth­ers. One unique way she does this is through fel­low blog­ger Jen­nifer Rizzo’s an­nual Hol­i­day House­walk. This vir­tual Christmas home tour runs the first week of De­cem­ber and has got­ten big­ger each year, with over 30 beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated homes par­tic­i­pat­ing in 2016.

“I be­lieve that sprin­kling time-worn pieces through­out your home in­vokes a de­sired cozy en­vi­ron­ment.”

Maria pulls no punches when it comes to her in­volve­ment in the tour. “As sum­mer winds down and fall ap­proaches, I be­gin to think and plan my next tour and dec­o­rat­ing strat­egy,” she says. “I al­ways try to change it up and keep it fresh from year to year!”

“Keep­ing it fresh” is an­other im­por­tant prin­ci­ple in Maria’s ap­proach to dec­o­rat­ing, which, com­bined with her will­ing­ness to mis­match her way to great­ness, gives some cre­dence to the old adage that prac­tice makes perfect. “Look­ing back, I would say that my style has changed through the years, al­though I can’t re­ally pin­point or de­fine how ex­actly,” she re­flects. “I never re­ally latched onto a spe­cific style, but rather just dec­o­rate with what I love best!”

To those who would de­sire to fol­low in her dec­o­rat­ing foot­steps, Maria highly en­cour­ages a com­bi­na­tion of in­tu­ition and open­ness in your ap­proach to a space.

“If a piece speaks to me, I don’t tuck it away in the closet, but work it into a room or vi­gnette,” she says. “I be­lieve that sprin­kling time-worn pieces through­out your home in­vokes a de­sired cozy en­vi­ron­ment. They de­clare that your home is used, lived in and loved!”

Left, top. While many fam­i­lies stick to just one cen­tral Christmas tree, Maria loves let­ting them pop up—in dif­fer­ent styles and sizes—all over the house. Left, bot­tom. Maria mixes ma­te­ri­als, such as glit­tery beads with rus­tic wood and vin­tage glass...

The large win­dows in the din­ing room in­vite an abun­dance of nat­u­ral light, as well as a chance to view snowy weather from in­doors. Maria adds to the in­doorout­door feel with swags of green­ery adorn­ing the room.

Right, top. No room is left be­hind in Maria's Christmas dec­o­rat­ing, and a few vin­tage bot­tle­brush trees turn her kitchen from ev­ery-day to hol­i­day. Right, bot­tom. Cheery red stripes on burlap and other rough fab­rics add a fes­tive touch that feels just...

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