Hello and Happy December! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and continue to enjoy the holiday season. I hope you also enjoyed last month’s issue of At Home and the featured Outdoor Thanksgiving meal we had here at the Outside the Box House. It really was exciting to see that in the magazine, and I send another big thank you to Chef Jen Lewis and everyone else who was involved!
I tell you, in the past month we have been so busy getting our clients’ houses and gardens all decorated and ready for the holidays, that there just hasn’t been a whole lot happening around here at the Outside the Box House. Earlier in the year, I had big plans to go all out with holiday lights and decorations and perhaps even throw a party. However, as I am sure many of you can relate to, life happened, reality eventually set in, and…well…that just ain’t gonna happen! Still, I couldn’t let the season pass without giving the house at least a touch of holiday spirit, so my team and I fashioned a simple swag of fresh evergreens for the front door. Tied with beautiful, monochromatic ribbon, it is a quick and easy decoration that still adds grace and customized charm for the holidays.
If you would like to make a swag of your own, here is what we did: first we gathered our tools and ingredients–evergreen branches, a roll of ribbon, florist’s wire, scissors and hand pruners. For the evergreens, I chose a mixture of pine boughs, fir and cedar trimmings and juniper branches. This is my favorite mixture, but you could also use other evergreen varieties such as holly, boxwood, camellia, arborvitae, magnolia or eleagnus. Take a quick stroll around the house to see what you might be able to harvest right out of your own garden!
Next, we arranged the various branches into a bundle, making sure each variety was visible, cut the woody ends even, and secured them with the florist’s wire.
Then we tied a length of ribbon around the end of the swag. This piece of ribbon hides the florist’s wire, helps hold the bundle together, and also serves as the tails to the bow. I chose a textured, velvet, striped ribbon in a monochromatic grey…my favorite color.
Finally, we tied a bow from the same ribbon, attached it to the swag using another piece of florist’s wire, and hung the swag on the door. I just love how the ribbon complements the silvery, driftwood tone of the door. Since my door features a decorative, bronze knocker (a gift from an antiques-dealer friend and one of my favorite things!) I chose to hang my swag directly from the knocker itself. You could also simply put a small nail at the appropriate height, or, if you worry about damaging the exterior surface of your door, you can hang your swag from a longer piece of ribbon that is attached to the top side of the door with heavy-duty staples. If your front door is glass, a basic suction-cup hook is all you need!
To help dress up the rest of the front entry, we simply replaced the miniature pumpkins that we used around the bases of these boxwoods for fall decorating with some pine cones that I gathered from a friend’s garden.
We did the same thing with the large urns that anchor the front garden, replacing frozen asparagus fern and gourds with more pine cones. Using a central evergreen to anchor container plantings like theses and switching out items around the base is a useful trick for easily carrying your garden from season to season. We also added matching bows to the large boxwood topiaries to help relate them back to the swag on the door.
They may be simple, but I think the decorations turned out great and hope they will help you with your own decorating. After all, during this busy and sometimes stressful season, perhaps the “less-is-more” philosophy can do us all some good!
Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year! -dk P.S. I am very proud and excited to announce that one of our projects is featured in the recently released book, Gardens in Detail, by Emma Reuss. The book showcases 100 of the best contemporary gardens and outdoor living spaces from across the globe, and we are honored to be included among some of the biggest names in the business. Be sure to pick it up for the garden enthusiast on your holiday shopping list!
Exterior designer Daniel Keeley is an Arkansas native and founder/principal of DK Design. His work has won numerous awards and accolades and is featured regularly in various publications. For more information visit dkdesignoutdoor.com
To see the progress at the “Out of the Box House,” read Daniel Keeley’s past updates!