We are avid readers of Elizabeth Owen’s blog, Mabel’s House, in part because she always makes us giggle, in part because we love her writing style, and in part because we think her signature vintage style is absolutely, positively fabulous. In fact, we recently visited her lovely home for an official photo shoot because we’re featuring a before-and-after of her aqua blue master bedroom (look for it in our Color issue this Jan/Feb). We asked Elizabeth to shed some light on how she creates vintage holiday style within her home, and she gladly obliged with lots of tips you don’t want to miss.
It’s all yours, Elizabeth!
When it comes to Christmastime, Iâm a big sentimental lump, which I blame on my grandmotherâs retro flocked Christmas tree with revolving base. As a child I remember watching it spin in her big bay window, blue lights and matching glass balls reflecting onto the street out front. Alas, the tree of my childhood memories is long gone, itâs poor rotating motor burned out and thrown onto the curb long before I was old enough to shriek, block the doorway and scream, âNO, I want it!â
If I had my say, our tree would be an exact replica, but reproducing a retro Christmas wouldnât be the most economically prudent move in the midst of holiday travel and gift buying expenses. It wouldnât go over well with my sisters if I met them on Christmas day, shrugged and said, âSorry guys, I couldnât afford to buy you a present this year. Instead I bought myself a vintage tree. Who wants eggnog?â
And while Iâm resisting the urge to turn my entire house into a set on “Mad Men,” I have managed to incorporate a few retro touches here and there, saving money and yet satisfying my craving for an era that hearkens back to the days of Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
1. Shiny Brite Ornaments
Nothing encapsulates the cheeriness of a retro Christmas like these candy hued ornaments. Thanks to the current supply at antique malls, boxes of these ornaments can easily be found in prices ranging from $1 to $10. They can be used on a tree, gathered in a bowl as a centerpiece, or collected in a tall clear glass vase on a mantle. Any way you choose to use them, theyâre an affordable nod at your grandmotherâs Christmas style.
2. Table Linens
These festive table coverings can easily be paired with modern dishes to give a fun throwback feeling to holiday dining. And if you donât prefer the straight forward Christmas designs, there are many vintage tablecloths with more subtle pine cone or winter scene patterns. Depending on the quality, they can be purchased for $10 to $50, and are easily found at antique malls and on eBay.
3. Vintage Glasses
The holidays give me an excuse to pull out my vintage drinking glasses and fill them with candles. Peach carnival glass, bubble glass, and mismatched blue juice glasses make cheery (not to mention cheap) candle arrangements.
4. Retro Dishes
Who said holidays always require fine china? Retro dishes are available in abundance online, at estate sales and in local antique malls. Pick up a few plates here and there to complete a fun, funky and unexpected set of dishes for your holiday table.
5. Handmade Craft Items
Thanks to Etsy and online bloggers, there are hundreds of unique, handmade holiday dÃ©cor options you just canât find at your local department stores. One of my favorites is this vintage style banner made by local crafter Jerusalem Greer.
Christmas is the one time of the year that evokes feelings of sentimentality in all of us. Whether your tradition involves watching “A Christmas Story” 30 times, or building a gingerbread house with your kids, retro Christmas touches are a perfect way to not only decorate in the cheeriest of styles, but also to incorporate a little bit of grandma into your traditions.