In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Paul and Jennifer Hirsch, who will celebrate their third wedding anniversary in April, earnestly carry on the same family holiday traditions with which they were both raised.
“At Christmas, my dad would disappear for days into boxes of lights, tinsel, ornaments, and more. He’d be up on the roof until his hands nearly froze, creating a cascade of bulbs that bathed the entire house in light,” said Paul.
According to Jennifer, her family was equally dedicated to spectacular holidays, making an annual pilgrimage to a favorite Christmas tree farm 40 miles away.
“Once home, the appointed tree (which took hours to choose) became the painstaking product of days of intense decorating, with my mom carrying whatever theme she’d decided upon that year throughout the rest of the house. Walls, bureaus, balusters, bookcases, countertops — nothing escaped her attention.”
With all of that, and doing their best to recreate their childhood Christmases in their own space, the couple recalls each felt something was missing when the holidays ended and their homes returned to normal. “I wanted to feel that special sparkle all winter,” Jennifer said. “I never wanted it to go away,” Paul added.
This winter, the Hirsch’s have decided to keep the bright and festive fires burning long after the holiday decorations come down. In preparation, they scoured neighborhood thrift stores, big box stores, antique shops, craft and lighting stores, and spent time searching for ideas online, all to keep the joy felt during the holidays alive throughout the dark days of January and February. While the inclination is to hide under the covers to escape the cold, Jennifer and Paul wanted to make those covers bold and beautiful!
After considering all the options, Jennifer decided that the key to the light was to bring it in, in a manner of speaking. She purchased strands of clear beads and strung them together, gluing them in patterns to small mirrors and even larger shards of broken mirrors (found in a building supply store) for a sparkling wall collage that reflects the light from an opposite window. In another room, strands of tiny mirror tiles hanging from curtain rods across various windows also shine, glistening whenever drapes are opened or someone passes by creating a slight breeze.
As their home is a mid-century ranch and not defined by an open concept kitchen/living space, the kitchen definitely needed brightening. To that end, the couple created a garden ambience by layering seasonal greens and dried, bright-colored flowers in baskets of varying sizes, placing them wherever space allows. Velvet ribbons tied atop the baskets make them look elegant, and staying away from holiday red and green ensures they are more enduring. A wall arrangement of color prints of trees, mountains, beaches, and other nature scenes behind their banquette, secured in brightly painted wooden frames, brings the outdoors in, making breakfast time more like a morning out on the deck — no matter what the season.
In the couple’s 15-by-18-foot bedroom, dark comforters have been replaced by iridescent white duvets and afghans in bold jewel tones with complementary throw pillows. With a little help they were able to remove old carpeting, revealing a hard pine floor which they refinished and topped with a bright yellow 12-by-12-foot area rug.
“It’s amazing what a few key décor changes will do to keep your home feeling joyful and alive,” said Jennifer, with an eye to another endless Minnesota winter. “Paul and I no longer anticipate a letdown after the holidays. We know that each evening after work, we’ll come home to a feeling of light and bright all over again.”