T'is the season to pull out all the stops, but interior designer and regular CTV contributor Lee-Ann Lacroix proves you don't have to spend a bundle to create a beautifully decorated home full of holiday cheer.
The owner of Lee-Ann Lacroix and Associates has turned her Manor Park house into a festive showplace, while still maintaining a comfortable setting for her family, which includes her husband, Gerry, 18-year-old son Austin and their dog, Ziggy. Built in the late ‘50s, Lee-Ann's 1,800-square-foot, two-storey home has an open layout that makes entertaining a snap and gives her plenty of room to mix inexpensive finds with family heirlooms and natural decorations.How do you decorate for Christmas?
Since I grew up in the country in Constance Bay, I was always surrounded by greenery and the natural elements. It's very important that I maintain and incorporate them in my holiday decor. It really helps bring me back to the many Christmases I enjoyed as a child.What have you changed for this holiday season?
In the past I've used a lot of fresh greenery, but this year I went with artificial and I don't think you can tell the difference. I gave it more depth by adding red berries throughout some of the pieces. I was really surprised at how realistic the choices at the stores are right now and how well-made they are. I went to a lot of local stores and every one had great things, from Canadian Tire to Home Depot. I got the wreath over the mantel from HomeSense for only $49 and I found the greenery on top of the fireplace at Michaels.What one item couldn't you live without during the holidays?
It would have be a Christmas tree. It brings a flood of wonderful memories of Christmas past. If I were to give one trick in order to make a dazzling tree, it would be to keep it simple and not over-decorate. Choose a colour scheme that complements your decor and make sure it's not obscured by too many decorations. And I find that every year my Christmas decor evolves. The last two years I went back to the traditional reds and greens, but this year I added new shades of green in apple and lime because I love how they look with cream. So I added it to my traditional red and dark green accessories that I already own and I really like that mix because it gives a Christmas feel without it screaming Christmas. I also like to take my year-round pieces, like candle holders and vases, and just by adding red berries and staying within your decor theme it all comes together.What's your favourite part of the Christmas season?
Our favourite holiday tradition is to have our family and friends over on Christmas Eve. It's a great way to get into the holiday spirit.What's your favourite room in your home?
It's has to be the kitchen because it's where our family and friends usually end up regardless of the occasion. My husband, Gerry, is a great cook and we entertain quite a bit during the holiday season. Our open-concept home works really nicely for the purpose. The rooms flow really well together and everything is within reach.Is your design style at home similar to the work you do for your clients?
I really love a traditional style and I use it as my base a lot of the time, but if someone is looking for a more contemporary feel then I work it in. I call that an "urban" look. As we're layering the house, I find a lot of people like a blend of styles to create their own personal look.How long have you lived in this neighbourhood?
We've lived there for three years. We used to live in Orléans, but we decided to downsize because I kept asking myself why were we living in a giant house with four bedrooms and we only have one child. We had so much space and we weren't living in it so we downsized to a walk-up that I soon realized was too small. We stayed there for two years and then moved here in 2005. It's the perfect space for us, and I just love the neighbourhood with its mix of older and new homes that have been customized.Why did you start the downsizing process?
When I started traveling to Europe, where everyone lives so well that way, I knew I could do it too. In North America we have this perception that a home has to be really, really large and that's what my perception was too. I thought I'd have more kids and a big family, but to maintain it realistically was so much work. I'm a really hands-on person - I love to garden, I love to decorate - and it just wasn't realistic for me to do everything. So I just said that's try and downsize.Was it a difficult thing to do?
Yes, it was really hard to downsize from a 4,000-square-foot house because I'm a hoarder in the sense that whenever I'd see something that I could mix in with something else, I'd buy it and store it away. So it took me about two months to clean out my basement and I started a rule that if you came to visit, you had to leave with something. And it really felt so great when I was done getting rid of all the excess and in the end I found that I had kept all my best pieces.DIY Candle Decorations
Lee-Ann says it's easy to transform candle holders into festive creations with a few do-it-yourself tips. "Last year I filled my tall candleholders with little round mints and it looked like snowballs, but this year I added fake snow and berries and I love that look too," she explains about the candleholders on her dining room table. "There are just so many vases you can buy in the stores to create a unique look by simply filling the base and adding a candle on top." •Place some artificial snow (found in craft stores) in the bottom of a vase. Simply insert a sprig of holly, yummy candies, such as white mints, or your favourite ornaments. • For an added effect find a candle that securely fits into the top of the container. • What you put in the vase is limited only by your imagination, but remember, what goes in must be able to come out. • "I love using stick-um adhesive for this project, which is great for taper candles," says Lee-Ann. "You won't have the problem of them falling over anymore."STORAGE TIP:
Lee-Ann uses red and green plastic tubs to store all of her holiday decorations. "It really simplified decorating this year because I didn't have to search through everything in the basement to find which one had the Christmas stuff. It was so much easier."