Winter Decorating (or, What to Do When the Tree Comes Down)

For starters, you probably shouldn’t leave the carcass of the Christmas tree sitting on the front porch for two weeks. But I have, and it can stay there until I have both the energy and a decent weather day to haul it in for recycling.

It might be the result of my decades-long home-and-garden magazine habit, or possibly my basically short attention span. But as much as I enjoy that feeling of spaciousness when the Christmas decorations are packed away, January gives me an itch to make some changes.

Squirrel pillow on cream chair.
I have a hate-on for squirrels, so my sister bought me this squirrel pillow at Ikea (that’s the kind of people we are). Notice the $10 silvery curtain and the thrifted baby blanket on the back of the chair.

This year, I’m obsessed with winter white decor and a vaguely Scandinavian look. I’m not going full Gustavian; I just want to bounce some more light around. I kept my dark peacock wall, the cream furniture, and my favorite purple chair, and went on the hunt for cheap winter white accessories.

My Frugal Winter Decor Update

First, of course, I went to Pinterest. You can see some of the inspirations at my board here. Main elements include texture from throws and pillows, mixes of cream and white, and lots of candlelight.

Pretty much everything on this mantel came from the Goodwill outlet, with the exception of the books, one cloche, and the candles.
Pretty much everything on this mantel came from the Goodwill Outlet, with the exception of the books, one cloche, and the candles.

I dug up the cream afghan made by my godmother about 30 years ago, then spent an evening repairing it and shaving all the little lint balls off it. I draped it over the back of the cream couch for some texture. I found a cream baby blanket at a thrift store that cozies up the back of one of the chairs, too.

I thrifted a couple of cable-knit cream sweaters, then used them to cover down throw pillows (earlier acquisitions from Goodwill Outlet; I washed the inserts in hot water, which did them no harm). These are on the couch with the purple cushions and purple heated throw I already had.

Thrifted feather pillow inserts + thrifted cream sweaters= cheap throw pillow for winter.
Thrifted feather pillow inserts + thrifted cream sweaters= cheap throw pillows for winter.

I found a fake fur throw for $15 on clearance at T.J. Maxx and a pair of shimmery slivery curtains on clearance for $10 at Marshalls. Both of these shops are perilously close to retail for my taste, but since these items were on clearance on top of the already discounted store price, I’m going to call it a win. And those curtains lighten things up dramatically, especially compared to the rust-colored ones I had before.

Finally, I spent an evening rearranging the mantel. Joann had cloches 70% off, so I bought a small one and mixed it with a bunch of stuff I already had: books, boxes, some old wooden spools, and new candles. I keep a big stock of white pillar candles on hand—all purchased with 50% off coupons at Michaels or Joann—since I use them in the fireplace when I don’t want to build an actual fire.

Cloche with mushrooms
The Goodwill Outlet-sourced spun-cotton mushrooms sit on a bed of moss on top of a thrifted plate under a cloche.

I made little pseudo terrariums with moss and some fabulous little German spun-cotton mushroom. Apparently mushrooms are big this year. I wouldn’t know, as I bought these 1980s-era ones at the Goodwill Outlet a couple months ago.

With the first heavy snow of the season a couple of days ago, I can now enjoy the way the snow bounces light while snuggling with the cats and a pot of tea in my winter white living room.

Fraudulent Farmgirl
I teach garden and homesteading skills—the stuff your great-grandmother knew how to do. But if there's a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do it, I'll find it!By day, I design earth-friendly gardens for Spotts Garden Service. By night, I don my Wellies to become the Fraudulent Farmgirl. On my small urban homestead, I've ripped out the front lawn to plant vegetables and fruit trees, turned the garage into a chicken coop and grown enough strawberries to feed half the neighborhood.

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