Bling on My Sewing Machine: *Special Holiday Edition* Show & Tell Home Tour

Happy Holidays! Today we have a *Special Holiday Edition* Show & Tell Home Tour. Artist and crafty mama Rachel Denbow of Bling on My Sewing Machine shows us around her oh-so-lovely Christmastime home.

Come on inside...


Rachel Denbow came into my life (at least virtually) a few months ago—thanks, sfgirlbybay—and I have to say I've been obsessing over a place to put some inspiration clipboards (you'll see...) ever since. Once December arrived, Rachel's holiday decorating photos on Flickr photos were tugging hard at my decorating heartstrings. She has a flair for using vintage and a knack for making fantastic DIY home arts. Needless to say, I was thrilled when Rachel agreed to bring us this *Special Holiday Edition* home tour. This will put you in the holiday spirit...for sure!

1. Tell us a little about your family and the size of your home.

We are me, Rachel, my husband, Brett, and my son, Sebastian. We recently landed in the Midwest from the West Coast after having our son in the Northwest! We showed up with very little furniture and grand ideas of creating a special home full of color and vintage pieces with a history of their own. We've gathered items from craigslist, local flea markets, and garage sales and have quickly filled our two-bedroom bungalow. We love the charm of our old house, crooked structure and all!

Holy Cute! poster

Holy Cute!!! poster, from the Red Velvet Art Boutique window (coming February 2009)

2. You celebrate Christmas in your home. How do you approach decorating for Christmas? How does your son influence and or get involved with the look and feel of your holiday decorations?

Christmas was always spent at my grandparents' houses with our aunts, uncles, and cousins dropping in and staying awhile. I have great memories of my grandmother's two Christmas trees always being full of beautiful ornaments, surrounded by villages and trains, and music boxes carefully placed in front of our stockings above the fireplace. It was always magical in the evenings.

My other grandmother's house was full of holiday decorations from my mother's childhood, so I'm guessing it's partly why I love whimsical, vintage decor. Christmas Eve would find the five of us children bouncing around the living room on top of the mattresses my mom had pulled out for us to sleep on. We'd stay up late and watch Christmas movies and then try to be the first one awake on Christmas morning to alert the rest. Those memories will always be special to me.

I want Sebastian's Christmas memories to be just as magical, so we've made it a point to not only decorate the whole house but to allow Sebastian to be a part of the process when he's interested. He really wanted to help add the ornaments to the tree. After a few examples of how to gently hang them, he had safely covered his side of the tree in fuchsia bulbs. He's been designated our light controller and loves to turn the on and off switch on the power surge protector, under careful supervision, and he even taste tested the candy canes before we added them to the wreath over his door!

wreath, paper chains, candy canes

Sebastian's tinsel wreath and tasted-tested candy canes

teepee, kids room

Sebastian's room with a teepee

3. How do you decorate for Christmas? All at once or over several days as you're inspired with new ideas?

We put our tree up the day before we left for Thanksgiving break so that when we got home from visiting family, we would feel like we were already stepping into the Christmas season. I then gathered things from around the house and even our yard to create holiday vignettes.

Christmas tree, vintage

The vintage-inspired Christmas tree

The vintage bulbs that didn't fit on our tree were arranged in a wire basket near our entry along with extra candy canes, pine cones we'd collected on a walk, and a candelabra I picked up at an estate sale years ago. It's a little crooked on one side, just like our house. The felt trees were left over from a previous project so I strung them together with embroidery thread and draped them on our bookshelf.

ornaments, candy canes, Christmas

Holiday vignette of vintage bulbs, candy canes, and more!

Most of our decorations are handmade from bits and pieces via my stash in the studio, which has allowed me to decorate as the ideas come. Flipping through the holiday issues of decorating magazines has been a great source of inspiration; however, I get most excited seeing the handiwork of so many talented women online. It has shaped the way I approach my resources and how I think about manipulating an idea until it works for me.

4. Tell us about one DIY holiday project you have taken on and love this holiday season?

Pom Poms! I first saw Danielle Thompson use them as gift toppers last year and filed the idea away thinking it'd be an inexpensive way to wrap gifts, but never did I think they'd take over my house. They've made their way onto presents as well as the newly spray-painted white branches in another corner of our living room. The temptation to add pom poms to everything has been stronger than I'd like to admit.

pom poms, Christmas, vintage

Pom Pom packages tied up with string

pom poms, Christmas, vintage

Lovely black and white wreath and Pom Pom display

I've also developed an affinity for wreaths this year. I picked up some vintage tinsel from a flea market in October and then found two straw wreaths at a thrift store in town hoping to cover them both. I managed to finish one but ran out of tinsel to finish the second. I'd seen something in a magazine about a felt flower wreath, so I decided to cover the empty space with simple star-shaped, felt flowers. It turned out to be one of those happy accident projects.

vintage Christmas tree

DIY tinsel wreath with felt flowers

5. Do you have a favorite Christmas decoration? Tell us about this item.

The vintage Shiny Brite ornaments were my favorite pieces until my grandmother gave me her ornaments from the 50's. They are hand-painted little beauties from Germany and Poland, so they are displayed above our dining room table, safely out of harm's way.

vintage Christmas ornaments

Grandmother's hand-painted ornaments on display

6. What is your most important Christmas-time ritual at home?

We still spend Christmas with our extended families in their homes and carry on with the holiday traditions from our childhood. My mother-in-law always makes a special coffee cake for Christmas morning that is devoured before we've rubbed the sleep from our eyes. We always drive around the city park with my grandparents to take in the lights. We still sleep on air mattresses at my meemaw's house but have spread out from the living room with the yearly addition of fiances and spouses.

I look forward to many more years doing Christmas this way, but when the time comes for our families to visit us, I'm sure we'll carry on with the mattress covered floors and coffee cake mornings.

7. During the holidays, what is one indulgence you give into?

Holiday movies and adding even more pink to the decor!  My husband is happy to oblige in both cases, for which I am ever grateful. I don't do a lot of baking so my creative energy is usually channeled into making the house feel festive and cozy. Even the studio gets a bit of Christmas cheer.  My inspiration clip boards are filled with holiday-themed pages from Urban Outfitters, CB2, and Country Living.

clipboards, artist studio

Inspiration clipboards in Rachel's studio

8. What are your favorite blogs or websites to visit for ideas for the holidays?

I try to work my way through my favorite design blogs every evening to see which artists and Etsy vendors' goods have been featured because they have great gift ideas. Although it changes from time to time, the general favorites are:

Design Sponge    
Apartment Therapy  
Minor Details    

Looking through my Flickr contacts this month has been a sugar rush, and I always find inspiration from a few crafty friends that have the Midas touch when it comes to decorating their homes for the holidays.

Danielle Thompson  
Elsie Flannigan    

9. If Santa brings you one thing for your home this year, what are you hoping for?

A down-filled duvet cover is at the top of my wish list this year. At the moment, we keep warm at night under four layers of quilts and blankets.

quilt, wreath

A peek at the four layers of quilts

The year-round blanket is a houndstooth print coverlet from Urban Outfitters followed by a hand-stitched white quilt that I bought at a garage sale for 25 cents. Our wedding quilt, made by Brett's grandma six and a half years ago, makes up the third layer, and the top quilt is a Dresden plated pattern that I found at the Alameda Flea Market last Spring. It was also a wedding quilt, as declared by the hand sewn tag, and a beautiful addition to our collection. However, I feel a lot more bed making will take place with only one blanket to straighten so if you see Santa, tell him to send me the one from IKEA.

Thank you, Rachel, and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Rachel also co-blogs at Red Velvet Art and runs Pony Party, a very special vintage shop on Etsy.

Don't miss our previous Show & Tell Home Tours:

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