An­tiques dealer Ni­cole McCay shares her se­crets for achiev­ing vin­tage hol­i­day charm.

Cottages & Bungalows - - Contents - BY RE­BEKAH WAHLBERG

Check out this an­tiques dealer’s ex­pert tips on man­i­fest­ing vin­tage hol­i­day charm in your home.

With tra­di­tions and nos­tal­gia

tak­ing cen­ter stage this time of year,

it’s not hard to see why the hol­i­days bring re­newed love for the old. South­ern Cal­i­for­nia-based an­tiques dealer Ni­cole McCay takes her col­lec­tions of vin­tage trea­sures and ac­cents them with Christ­mas touches ev­ery year, for a home that’s filled with fes­tive cheer and vin­tage charm. Here’s how she gets the per­fect blend of nat­u­ral, vin­tage and hol­i­day dé­cor to get her fam­ily in the Christ­mas spirit.

“I cre­ate the per­fect hol­i­day

look for me by mix­ing in nat­u­ral el­e­ments with my

vin­tage good­ies.”


Man­made hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions are all well and good, but there’s some­thing ex­tra spe­cial about bring­ing in the ac­cents Mother Na­ture has to of­fer for the hol­i­days. “I cre­ate the per­fect hol­i­day look for me by mix­ing in nat­u­ral el­e­ments with my vin­tage good­ies,” Ni­cole says. Ac­cents such as ev­er­green gar­lands, box­wood wreaths, holly sprigs, pinecones and, of course, a real Christ­mas tree bring the out­doors in for the sea­son.


Ni­cole dis­plays her an­tiques in lay­ers: stacked and stag­gered on ta­bles, in cab­i­nets, on shelves. She keeps the col­lec­tions con­tained in care­fully cu­rated vi­gnettes, group­ing her trea­sures in places that keep her home from look­ing clut­tered or mu­seum-like. Ni­cole says an­other im­por­tant el­e­ment of dec­o­rat­ing with an­tiques is be­ing in­ten­tional about mak­ing her spa­ces feel ap­proach­able—that’s why many of her col­lec­tions are out in the open, not be­hind glass or stored in a cup­board.

“I have many open-shelved ar­eas where you can get up close and ex­plore,” she says. The trick is to in­cor­po­rate Christ­mas dé­cor with­out over­whelm­ing what’s al­ready there, so sprin­kle some Christ­mas cheer with a sprig of holly here or a Santa Claus fig­urine there.


When shop­ping for hol­i­day trea­sures, take your time. “For me, it’s all about go­ing slow and check­ing ev­ery nook and cranny,” Ni­cole says. “I think we’re able to un­earth more trea­sures that way.” She found a trio of an­tique Ger­man wax an­gels wrapped and buried in a box—some­thing she might have missed if she weren’t so metic­u­lous.

Also be friendly. Ni­cole stops to chat with ev­ery ven­dor she vis­its, and she’s made some long-time friends that way. Not to men­tion that the ven­dors she’s friends with will shop with her in mind and give her great deals.

Lastly you should be shop­ping year round for the hol­i­days. “It’s get­ting harder to find [Christ­mas dé­cor], so grab it when you see it!” Ni­cole says. You’ll get bet­ter deals, too, if you shop for the hol­i­days when the dé­cor is out of sea­son.

DASH OF GREEN­ERY. Ni­cole spices up her kitchen nook with a fresh gar­land woven into the chan­de­lier— she loves the way fresh green­ery makes her home smell dur­ing the hol­i­days. A cheery red table run­ner com­ple­ments the nat­u­ral vibe. The trans­fer­ware and vin­tage sil­ver­ware aren’t just for dis­play; they are used on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

|LEFT| WARM WEL­COME FROM SANTA. The en­try­way dis­plays a for­est of col­or­ful bot­tle­brush trees and a large Vail­lan­court Santa Claus—a splurge pur­chase of Ni­cole’s. A snow-cov­ered town of card­board putz houses and a paint­ing of a Christ­mas tree com­plete the look. Down be­low, part of Ni­cole’s vin­tage suit­case col­lec­tion is dis­played with pride.|BE­LOW| CU­RI­OUS AND CURIOUSER. A cu­rio cab­i­net full of Ro­seville’s Black­berry pot­tery and an­tique trans­fer­ware gets into the Christ­mas spirit with pinecones and other nat­u­ral el­e­ments like a bird’s nest and a hive. The an­tique books scat­tered on the shelves tie into the or­ange, brown and green color scheme.

HOL­I­DAY FEASTING. The for­mal din­ing roomfea­tures a mix of real and faux gar­lands in the chan­de­lier, as well as a cen­ter­piece made from a bowl full of mer­cury-glassor­na­ments. The bright bulbs bring a pop of color to the nat­u­ral, neu­tral pal­ette. The pale greenwall color al­lows the white-painted fur­nish­ingsto re­ally shine.

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