thick christmas garland

You’re a wrestler you say?  A crossfitter?  A yoga expert?  Yeah, good for you.  You must be so proud. Pftt.  Amateur.   I am none of those things, but I’m still more of an athlete than you.

I excel in the sport of Christmas decorating.

I train just as hard as you, carb load not only before the big game, but during and after it, *plus* win or lose I’m covered head to toe in gold sparkles for the entire month of December. I’m like a walking gold medal.  If you propped me on a pole I’d look like Brandi the Christmas stripper, only I’d have cookie crumbs in my bra instead of money.  I’m awesome.

Look, I know at this point you’re feeling a bit intimidated by my obvious superior athletic abilities, but don’t be.   We all put on our team jerseys one arm at time. It’s just that your jersey is some stupid, super-boring one that reduces you to a number while mine happens to be a pair of tree sap covered pajamas with 4.5 pounds of artificial garland and mystery dirt stuck to them.  So again, awesome.

There are subtle differences between my sport and yours of course.  Yours has you replenishing with Gatorade and eating power bars.  Mine has me replenishing with rum and eggnog and tripping over power bars then giving them the finger, *just* before I fall into a Tupperware bin full of antique glass balls.  I also give them the finger.

I started the race a little bit late this year because I had to finish putting in the built in bookcases in the dining room. So it turns out this Christmas post is also the reveal of all of the bookcases in my dining room. It isn’t a representation of how the dining room will look all the time, just during stripper Christmas.

I also realized that this is the first time you’ll see what’s become of my foyer since removing all of the bookcases.  This is a very exciting post indeed.

In fact, it’s like Christmas.


A black Christmas.


This year it’s out with all white and in with big hits of black.




It’s also a bit of a turnaround for me in terms of shoving some of the simple, minimalistic, decorations to the side in favour of big, fat, cookie eating decorations.  I have retired the anaemic garland I’ve loved so much over the past few years and I’m embracing my inner Dynasty.


christmas candles

Which is not to say that everything is over the top.  Everything over the top is too much, just like eating an entire Costco sized chicken pot pie is too much. Sometimes.    My coffee table decoration is just one of the cheese boards I made with a few candles on it.


christmas corner

All of the garland in the house though?  Yeah, every bit of it is totally over the top with a capital Carrington.

Ready to see the new foyer?



There are so many things in this picture that I feel compelled to tell you about.

The tree.        For the first time in my life I bought a surprise tree.  One of those things wrapped in netting and twine, smashed up so tight you have no idea what’s actually inside.  It was like a tree wearing Spanx.  I was excited and terrified to cut it loose for fear of what might come boinging out at me.

As luck would have it the surprise tree was perfect.  Too perfect in fact. I had to take a pair of shears to screw it up a bit.

The tablecloths         Those are not tablecloths over my foyer table.  The bottom, natural coloured one is my linen duvet cover and the black one on top is my black linen pinafore.  I’m very cold at night and very dirty while cooking, but my foyer looks good.

The Chandelier       You might remember my $100 Kijiji chandelier.  Once I got it together I discovered it’s missing a lot of crystals and one of the arms causes the bulb (and my dimmer) to blow out.  Sooooo watch for a DIY on how to do a little electrical repair on chandeliers the first week of January on the blog.



christmas tree chandelier

I still haven’t figured out an option for window treatments but I won’t be able to do the thing I most wanted which was interior wood shutters.  There just isn’t room for them to open on enough windows.  So I’ve half decided to go with simple roman blinds, just like the ones in my kitchen.

You won’t find any photos of my kitchen at Christmas in this post incidentally because it looks exactly like it did last year, so just take a look at my Christmas House Tour 2015 if you want to see what it looks like at this very moment.

black reindeer

I brought the black into this room with the black metal candelabra at the end of the buffet and 3 black reindeer.  Black decorations were hard to find this year but I’m guessing by next year they’ll be way easier to come by.

Simple, rustic and white have been in for so long that there’s bound to be a backlash soon by way of people clamouring for the opposite of white and simple.  Black and brash.


christmas buddha

And Buddha.


christmas swag

Enter Dynasty era garland number 4.  It’s 3 or 4 garlands twisted together with pinecones, gold beads and black and white ornaments added to it.  It. Is. Over. The. Top.

Are you ready for the dining room and the completed bookcase project that caused me to run naked and screaming through the streets?  (that’s rhetorical if you happen to be one of my neighbours)



I love it.  It’s like a hug.  From hundreds of books.



Enter the black dining room accents.  Black ornaments tucked in the garland which is sitting on a black burlap runner.



Margaret is the beautiful black backdrop to it all.



And then of course there are the black presents, inspired by basketball coach Amos.

I hope you enjoyed your Christmas tour through my house this year, I’m glad you could make it. I’m even more glad that you’re only imaginary here because then I don’t have to make small talk and you don’t have to worry about breaking anything.

It’s been an exciting post hasn’t it?  So exciting you might feel inclined to tip me.  You don’t need to. But if you insist,  I shall keep my bra open and ready for you to stuff with cookies.

love Brandi, the Christmas stripper.


  1. Vikki says:

    I LOVE your over-the-top Christmas—-
    I love the triple garland!!!
    I love the little gold tree with no leaves. (where did you get it?)
    I love Margaret’s garland. (She is happy you decorated her as she deserves.)
    I love the chair by your fireplace.
    I love the chandelier in your foyer.
    I love your bookcases.
    I love your surprise tree.
    Best Christmas House ever. Now what are you going to do to top that?!?!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Well this year because I’m doing a lot of backup work on my blog I definitely will NOT be topping it. Buttttt it’ll still be good. ;) ~ karen!

  2. Darla says:

    Love Love Love the garlands!!! If they are not real they certainly look like they are. Black looks so elegant. Enjoy you time off!

  3. Kari says:

    Everything is GORGEOUS! The big garland is my favorite

  4. Karen says:

    I LOVE this! Of all the blog Christmas home tours I have seen this season, yours is my favorite! You are bang on with the black. Everyone will have black next year. Your house is beautiful, elegant, and sassy. Love how the dining room turned out!

  5. Mark says:

    Karen, your photos are always so stunning. Do you spend a lot of time cleaning (every speck of dust shows otherwise) and staging the photos? Or is it all photoshop?

    I have a funny story to tell you. I was reading the Lee Valley blog and was busting a gut laughing about the rapini and the bunion love, and admiring the DIY leather book cover…. I had to jump to the end to see if I could confirm my suspicions…. You’re definitely busy, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      I am indeed Mark, but that’s not as impressive as you spotting (suspecting) my writing in another publication! ~ karen!

  6. Cathy McCoy says:

    Here’s the magic….The photo with your front door has the gold twig tree floating in the air! Magic!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hey Karen, Your spot on about Christmas decorating being a sport! Nobody understands! I run a crew of about 15 to decorate a bunch of hotels in NOTL. Stop by and see us sometime if your in the area…you’d LOVE our warehouse of stuff;)

    • Karen says:

      omg I bet I WOULD love it, lol!!! It takes me 3 days to decorate my ONE house for xmas so I can’t even imagine a slew of hotels! ~ karen!

  8. Catt in Kentucky says:

    Best tour ever. I LOVE all the details. The bookcases turned out beautifully. Love the round table….so artful. The way you mix your contemporary pieces with antiques and traditional pieces then add a bit of whimsy is perfection in my book. It takes a great eye and talent to get the mix right. You did great!

  9. Kathy O HARTZELL says:

    I’ve a suggestion for a column for you: why we should always make/buy/create at least three of anything as opposed to just one. EVERYTHING looks better in at least multiples of three, and yet, still, after all these years, I’m stuck with ONE sparkly raindeer, ONE velvet vintage Santa, ONE ginormous mercury ornament.

    Really, decorating 101, right? Get/do it in multiples. ARGHHHH

    But, my dear, your home is STUNNING and DREAMY and as usual, makes me as green ( as the non existent Christmas tree) with envy.

  10. Dale says:

    Considering all the books in the bookcases, with all the tremendous work you put into the decorating and other work around the house, WHEN IN HADES DO YOU HAVE TIME TO READ BOOKS? I sit and read my Stephen Kings and nothing gets done in my house.
    Merry Christmas ya’ll.

  11. Melissa Keyser says:

    I love the garlands that hang off only one side of the door/painting. Looks much better than a symmetrical hanging.

  12. Connie says:

    Wow Brandi, you managed to make Black look…. Christmas-y in a very stylish way . Very Cool , Looks Amazing!

  13. Joslynne says:

    Love the dining room!! Just to add to all the ooooohhhhh comments…thanks for sharing!
    Have a great xmas!

  14. Leslie in Hampton says:

    Gosh I do love the built ins even though they were such a pain to install. They really take the room into a new dimension. I love the black but I also love all of the gold and the garland. As always you have pulled it together for yet another year Karen. Beautiful house as always!! Great job!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Leslie! I can’t wait to see what they look like in January when everything is just normal. (aside from myself of course) ~ karen!

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