Cottages & Bungalows
DRAPED TO DELIGHT
How a homeowner uses timeless and classic decorating traditions to fill her home with life and celebration during the Christmas season.
A New Mexico homeowner uses timeless and classic decorating traditions to fill her home with life and celebration during the Christmas season.
When homeowner and blogger Nichol Naranjo decorates for
the holidays each year, she always comes back to the same theme. “Timeless, classic and more traditional holiday decor tends to make me the happiest,” she says. For inspiration, she’ll often draw from the set design of holiday movies and shows that she admires. “Sometimes I even take notes on my phone,” she says.
It doesn’t hurt that her existing decor is already an impeccable combination of whites, natural woods and nautical touches that create a perfect base for a classic holiday setting. “Someone once described my style as maritime French and I really like that description,” Nichol says, “I lean towards collected, rustic, European and traditional touches.”
The home itself is a 2006 builder-grade home located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We thought we would flip it in three to five years, but then the economy crashed,” Nichol says. Fourteen years later, the entire Naranjo family (Nichol, her husband Dominic, their three daughters and two dogs) has made the most of staying put by making the four-bedroom and twoand-a-half-bath home a dreamy haven for friends and family to gather through all seasons. “My main goal for the holidays is to create a warm, welcoming, celebratory and classic feel,” Nichol says.
One of the most striking elements of Nichol’s holiday decor is her extensive use of garland and greenery. “Hanging greens throughout takes each space to the next level for me,” Nichol says, “It was the way people decorated and celebrated long ago, and I’ve always wanted my home to reflect the way people decorated, even in the 1800s.” Nichol uses the imagery from classic works of literature like Little Women and A Christmas Carol as inspiration. She drapes garland, both faux and real, in nearly every room, transforming windows, mantels, hallways, chandeliers and even open shelves into bright and fresh holiday focal points. Some garland is even laced with citrus fruits, a sweet nod to the family’s last name, “Naranjo,” which is Spanish for orange tree.
A 25-year-old Norland pine adds life to the master bedroom next to a whimsical, vintage hanging swing that Nichol found at a thrift store. In the dining room, natural wood branches replace traditional curtain rods, while a massive sliding barn door separates the space from the living room. Built from two slabs of raw wood, the piece acts as a grounding element in the space. “I want people to feel like they can kick off their shoes and curl up on our sofa,” Nichol says, “we also feel it’s very important to bring nature into your home for the same reason, and that’s why you see wood throughout.”
Whether she’s hosting a holiday party or gathering with her immediate family for a day of post-Christmas relaxation, Nichol has created a delightful home for every season.
“My main goal for the holidays is to create a warm, welcoming, celebratory and classic feel.”
“I’ve always wanted my home to reflect the way people decorated, even in the 1800s.”
FOR THE LOVE OF THE SEA
Even though their home is located in New Mexico, Nichol and her family have a love for the sea and incorporate that throughout the space with various nautical art pieces. “I love our beautiful desert, and this city is home, but not a day goes by that I don't long for the ocean,” Nichol says. In the upstairs den, a large wall-papered mural of a ship makes a whimsical and lively statement. In the living room, a ship chandelier captures that theme while serving as a fun conversation starter and a great place to hang garland during the winter. Nichol and Dominic even use a seascape piece of art to hang over their television when not in use. “The touches of the sea bring me such a sense of calm,” Nichol says.
IN JOY AND SORROW
When Nichol's brother passed away three years ago, the first Christmas after his passing was a grief-filled time. To honor his life, Nichol incorporated some specific pieces in her home that reminded her of him. “He loved green, so a green sofa that enveloped me was a special and healing piece of furniture to have,” Nichol says of the piece that also adds to the living room's Christmas cheer.
Above the master bed hangs a scroll from Cottonwood Shanty with the words, 'The weary world rejoices.' For Nichol, that was a reminder and message of hope each night as she went to sleep. “My grief seemed to intensify at night, and I didn't want to lose the main focus of what Christmas is—to rejoice,” Nichol says, “I knew the visual reminder, as I crawled into bed each night, would really help me to refocus.” ‘The weary world rejoices' became ‘The weary Nichol rejoices' every night.
In the spirit of celebration and rejoicing, some of Nichol's favorite Christmas traditions include the family's annual Christmas Eve party as well as a time of relaxation the day after Christmas. “I often joke that December 26th is my favorite day of the year,” she says, “We eat leftovers from our Christmas breakfast, enjoy mimosas, stay in our pj's and watch our favorite Christmas movies.” She describes it as all of the Christmas magic with none of the hustle and bustle. Whether she's hosting a holiday party or gathering with her immediate family for a day of post-Christmas relaxation, Nichol has created a delightful home for every season. “Since I prefer timeless and classic decor in my home year round, my holiday decor fits right in,” she says.