We can finally put our feet up! If you've been following along the last few weeks, you know we were feverishly preparing our home for the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Designer Tour of Homes here in Alexandria, Virginia. We scrubbed, sawed, painted, restored, and prepared for the big day in anticipation of hundreds of tour goers descending upon our home.
After leaving you with our checklist progress update on Friday, we ended up working at warp speed throughout the day on Friday and bright and early Saturday morning before the tour. We were able to check everything off of our list except for hanging the shutters in the front window. Not bad for the lengthy checklist we thrust onto ourselves. In order to focus on the task at hand we even carted Lulu off to an alternate location to protect her fragile and neurotic psyche from complete and total over stimulus. She knew what was up.
We also made a point to pause on Friday evening and drink our fair share of scotch (celebrating the weekend of course) at the Taste of Scotland event. As usual, it was a great event and we had a wonderful time.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Now that the weekend's festivities have wrapped up, we can take you on a virtual tour of our home as it looked this weekend for the tour, as well as give you a behind the scenes look at one of the busiest weeks of our lives.
Our general whirlwind of decorating started Thanksgiving weekend. This year we went home to Cleveland to celebrate the holiday with our families. The meal was excellent but we also had an opportunity to raid my mom's mercury glass collection. We knew we'd be using mercury glass in our Christmas decor this year, and my mom had a ton of pieces she wasn't going to be displaying.
With mercury glass in hand we headed back to DC on Saturday in order to get a jump start on our decorating. We had a Sunday meeting scheduled with our holiday home tour designer, Sarah Bohl, and we wanted as much out and available in the way of our Christmas decorations as possible. No sooner than we arrived home after our six hour drive, we were back in the car headed to pick up our Christmas trees. Yes, that's right, trees...plural.
We actually bought our trees at The Home Depot this year. Sure, it's no Christmas Vacation "into the wilderness to chop down a tree" type process, but it works well for us. This year is the first year we've had an SUV rather than our mustang, and boy did it make the process easier. No tying down the trunk while we precariously drive home at 20 miles per hour. No strapping the tree to the roof hoping it doesn't blow off into traffic. Having an SUV means we can toss the tree on a drop cloth in the back seat and close back hatch. It's like having a giant pine scented air freshener in the car.
We also stopped in at Michaels to pick up necessary additions for the kitchen tree. Since we had no existing decorations for a second tree, we'd be doing the whole thing from scratch. Wendy had a vision of completing a tree that would complement the mercury glass in the kitchen, and she was a woman on a mission.
By Sunday we had our trees set up in the doorway between the living and dining rooms as well as in the sun porch. The tree in the sun porch was much smaller in stature due to the somewhat tight area where it would sit. Due to our diameter limitation, we opted for a five foot tall tree rather than have to creatively trim a taller tree, but after seeing it in the room we realized it looked much too short. Thanks to my wood hoarding issues, I quickly located several pieces of plywood in the basement to throw together a quick platform box that would raise the tree the necessary 13 inches.
We had made a lot of progress on Saturday, so we were ready to get to work on Sunday when Sarah arrived. Wendy and Sarah started working on decorating the kitchen and the sun porch tree. After laying out the new ornaments as well as Alex's mom's mercury glass collection, they formulated a plan.
Sarah and Wendy began working some holiday magic on the kitchen and sun porch, and it was looking great. After all of their efforts, and after I made a quick run to Target to procure a few additional ornaments and strands of white lights, we had a beautifully and festive kitchen/sun porch full and mercury glass accents and a beautiful Christmas tree. Sarah covered the base of the tree and the box I had built with a few yards of burlap fabric for a final touch.
It was the perfect use for it, and Lulu was a serious fan. In fact, she took to sitting and laying on the burlap skirt all week.
Throughout the course of last week, we spent time finishing up our huge project list, along with putting up our tree, adorning it with white lights, red berries, and our collection of painted glass ornaments.
This past Friday, we both took off work so we could complete the decorating. Sarah came back again to help us, and worked her bow magic on the yards of plaid ribbon I purchased from Michaels.
One beautiful bow went atop our tree in the front room.
We decorated a live boxwood wreath for the back door...
...and also embellished an eucalyptus wreath in the foyer with one of the bows as well as the antique bugle Wendy picked up on a recent trip to Lucketts.
Wendy worked to make swags for the French doors (we'll be doing a tutorial on these in a later post).
She also replanted the front urns with festive topiaries and hung a boxwood wreath in each window.
The florist we were paired with for the tour, Helen Olivia, delivered gorgeous arrangement after gorgeous arrangement to decorate each room in our home as well as the back yard. Two of the workshop students, Sharon Hanes and Hope Debrow, made these jaw dropping arrangements.
Sarah and Wendy also set the dining room table, complete with china, flatware and stemware generously donated for the day from Design Cuisine, a local event rental company.
And in a tongue in cheek nod to a close friend, we displayed her WalMart plastic Santa in our back yard. This cheery fellow was received in an office exchange, and lands on unsuspecting door steps in the neighborhood when a home's owner least expects it. I thought it was only appropriate that he bid farewell to our visitors on their way out the back gate.
On Saturday morning we woke up early to do a final vacuuming, a little mulching out front and sweeping out back, and Wendy baked a quick batch of pumpkin cranberry almond muffins for the docents assigned to our home. We cleaned ourselves up, and then made ourselves scarce for the next five hours, during which time we viewed the other homes on the tour including this gorgeous 18th century estate on Wolfe Street...
...and this beautiful 1807 home on South Fairfax Street.
Meanwhile, our home was open for the tour. We chose not to go through it because we thought that we would seem like weirdos going through our own home. But let me tell you, leaving our pride and joy in the hands of other people, no matter how capable, was a little nerve wracking to say the least. As we left the house, others were beginning to assemble to begin touring our modest little home. For us, it was an odd sight to see.
If you weren't able to make it, we hope to be able to give you a brief "virtual" tour of our home and how it looked on the day of the tour. Let's start outside.
The exterior of the house welcomed visitors into our festively decorated row house.
Walking into the downstairs hallway, visitors were greeted with the somewhat simple wreath on the mirror since the harlequin walls can be somewhat overwhelming.
Immediately to the left, our front parlor (living room) provided a warming fire and the first view of our Christmas tree.
The red dining room, whose color seems very festive this time every year, highlighted the place settings and several beautiful floral arrangements. The tablescape was made a bit more informal by using burlap and two runners of tartan fabric.
Additional accents were provided around this room through the use of my extensive collection of nutcrackers from my childhood.
Walking from the dining room into the family room, the decorations were far more subtle. A small arrangement on the coffee table, a few holiday pillows, and two silvery trees next to the television is all that is necessary to make this room feel "decorated." Mel, though he was on the couch in this photo, spent the tour closed in our bedroom. He was not a happy feline, to say the least.
The kitchen and sun porch were the final rooms of the house, which featured another large floral arrangement, our second tree, the extensive mercury glass collection, and Wendy's great grandfather's "finished" chair. The chair is another item we'll share more on later this week.
Visitors exited through the rear door of the house and into the back yard where a final floral arrangement sat on the table and Santa waved goodbye.
We'll be sure to share more details about individual items like the floral arrangements, the exterior decor, and creating holiday-inspired artwork in subsequent posts. All in all, we had a wonderful time participating in this weekend's events, but to be totally honest, we're exhausted. It was a great experience and we'd do it again if asked...just as soon as we get some shut eye...and maybe after we finish a few more projects.
Since we didn't tour our home, unfortunately that means we didn't get to hear what the docents were saying about the house, nor did we get to hear many comments from other people touring our home. If you went on the tour, we'd love to hear what you thought as well as hear any cool or interesting details the docents filled you in on. If you took the "virtual tour" above and want to share your two cents, we'd love to hear that too.