Decorate with Crafts

It's a Wonderful Light

The Country Sampler stylists take a home outfitted with fabulous vintage finds and texture-rich furnishings from neutral to overdrive with an infusion of holiday cheer.

1110DWC00 When it comes to decorating, Denise and Greg Knickrehm's Bartlett, Illinois, home is always in neutral territory. From Osnaburg drapes wrapped in burlap bands to distressed-finish furniture topped off with more vintage accessories, each carefully chosen piece sets a serene scene that suits a monochromatic mindset.

And, it's not just the house that benefits from Denise's subtle signature style: Her retail shop in nearby Geneva, lets her share her decorating ideas and fabulous finds with anyone who walks through the door. "I just have so much fun in the shop," she says. "It's such a blessing. I can't take a day off! I love it too much, and it excites me too much."

Although she prefers a pale palette, Denise welcomed Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker into her home to decorate for the holidays -- even if it meant adding color. "We took Denise out of her comfort zone a bit by adding red and green accents," Sally-Jo says. "All her neutral furnishings are so wonderful, though, that everything worked together beautifully. Maybe she'll even invite us back!"

1110DWC01White Reign
1. Lighten your load.
Put a twinkle in your eye and your home this holiday season by dotting your decor with accent lights. "Denise has all these great chippy-finish pillars and posts in her home, so we drew attention to the ones in the living room with electric candles," Sally-Jo says.
2. Book it.
  A stack of books with light-colored spines gives a boost to the wrought-iron candlestand on the pillar at right, and another tower of tomes does the same for a pewter compote holding a white mug on the cabinet.
3. Be an angel.
  Incorporate pieces befitting a theme that works for everyday or the holidays, such as stars or angels. The stylists adorned Denise's window with a tin angel and a coordinating wood sign, and they added a delicate angel ornament on a glass candleholder below.
4. Have a berry Christmas.  Mantels and doors aren't the only spots that could benefit from a dimensional garland; drape a berry swag across a cabinet or a desk for extra dimension. Here, a white garland with colorful electric bulbs underlines a ceramic photo frame and breaks up the similar hues of the cupboard and the drapes.
5. Stick with what you know.
  "We thought about hanging an evergreen wreath on the mirror at right," Catherine notes, "but Denise's wreath with dress-pattern rosettes was too cute to replace!" For a similar look, attach white paper blooms to your everyday wreaths and tuck in a few vintage holiday postcards.6. Cool off.Display whimsical fare, such as winter-themed figurines, on glass bricks that look as cool as ice.

1110DWC02Best in Snow
7. Turn on the (old-fashioned) charm.
  To accentuate the painted-finish furniture in this corner of Denise's living room, Sally-Jo and Catherine chose items with vintage flair. "We wanted to draw attention to the elegant console and the armchair with the fleur-de-lis design on the seat," Catherine says. "We didn't want to overpower the white pieces, so we chose smaller accents that stand out but don't distract the eye."
8. Welcome a new addition. 
At left, icicle and snowflake ornaments that keep with Denise's neutral palette turn an urn full of paper leaf-adorned branches into a twiggy tannenbaum.
9. Center your focus. 
The stylists put together a lower-profile vignette for the center of the console that wouldn't compete with the tall objects and the mirror wrapped in burlap ribbon. "Because it's black, the 'Family' shelf stands out really well amid all the white pieces," Sally-Jo says. "And, the shelf provides a perfect platform for a vintage-look die-cut accent and a few candles that give a warm glow."
10. Cover your bases. 
To add more interest to the tableau, the stylists highlighted the bases of the urn and the lamp with a sparkly snowman and a cutlery tray holding metallic balls and bottle-brush trees, respectively.
11. Round out your displays. 
Raised up on a cake pedestal, a glass apothecary jar hosts a mix of ball ornaments and natural-material spheres that boast beautiful textures and repeat the roundabout character of the three antique clocks on the wall.
12. Go to ground. 
Draw attention to a floor detail -- here, it's Denise's striped wood planks -- with an attractive accent. The stylists crowned a vintage train case with a gift and stacking boxes; a primitive snowman would make an equally fitting topper.

1110DWC03aIn the Spirit
13. See red, go green.
  With a tablescape that incorporates plenty of holiday hues, Sally-Jo and Catherine transformed Denise's dining room from a serenely styled space into a spot that suits the festive feel of the season.
14. Make a nest.  If you're setting your table for show, enhance your holiday dishware with a grapevine wreath placed underneath in lieu of a place mat. Here, a folded length of natural fabric provides a soft counterpoint to the wreaths and the table.
15. Be repetitive.
  The stylists repeated the twiggy idea of the grapevine with a miniature berried tree, whose bright red fruit picks up on the dinnerware, a few red candles and the scarf of a chenille snowman standing nearby.
16. Use your illusion.
  Two trios of clear ball ornaments with their hangers removed rest on twig napkin holders and act as vases for some snow-like blooms. "Instead of your typical potted poinsettia, we went with a lower-profile but more interesting floral display," Catherine says. "You can use any white flower, fresh or faux, to get this look. We chose Queen Anne's lace, but white hydrangeas would also give the illusion of snowballs."
17. Surround yourself.
  To balance out the colors bursting from the table, the stylists hung a nature-themed evergreen wreath on the wall above a black apothecary and arranged a large jar full of bright green apples behind some seasonal blocks.
18. Get boxed in. 
Bring extra pattern into your space by setting some stacking boxes in the center of a dining table or on a weathered wood pillar.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

"Angels Gather Here" sign, North Country
Tin angel, Circa Home Living
Ceramic frame, The Maples' Tree
White fabric angel, Homespun and Then Some
Pewter compote, Farmhouse Primitives
Lighted garland, Copeland's General Store
Wrought-iron candlestand, Mountainberry Candles & Keepsakes
Vintage snow figures set, Henny Penny's House
Icicle ornaments, Fine Country Living Primitives
Descending snowflake ornaments, Kruenpeeper Creek Gifts

Tinsel tree snowman, Henny Penny's House
Family shelf, Auntie Em's
White Italian Cashmere candles, Montag Fine Candle Co.
Children building snowman boardwalk, Henny Penny's House
Knife tray, Harold's East TN Mountain Woodshop
Santa nesting boxes, Simply Country
Ma and Pa snowman couple, Plain Jane Primitives

Park Designs Holly dinnerware, Piper Classics
Red Tis the Season candles, Montag Fine Candle Co.
Red berry tree, My Country Door
Chenille snowman with cardinals, Adorable Country Classics
"Snow" blocks, Henny Penny's House
Cottage pine wreath, Design A Wreath by Simply Country
Merry Christmas snowflake stacking boxes, Copeland's General Store
Berry napkin rings, Country Store of Geneva

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Brian Nightengale
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad & Catherine Parker
Produced by Dennis Morgan