Skip to main content
Advertisement for MSUFCU Student Art exhibit

Don’t Start From Scratch

The day after Thanksgiving was one of my favorite days growing up. I would help my grandmother get out the artificial tree my grandfather had bought before he died, and we would go through the decorations she’d collected through generations. 

It was my job to decorate how I saw fit, and I left no corner of our home undecorated. 

I carried on that tradition as I had children, and my January- born kiddo especially loves how “their” season feels officially underway when our home turns festive. 

Last year, however, I had a couple large makeovers in progress the week of Thanksgiving and didn’t have the bandwidth to decorate. I thought about skipping everything besides the tree, but I didn’t want to let my teenager down since we’re running out of time to create childhood memories. 

’Twas mid-December when I found time to think about my own house. By then, it just didn’t seem worth the effort to drag everything out of storage. It was only in my dread of creating chaos that I realized my regular decor was versatile enough to keep in place. Perhaps with just a few special touches, I could go easy on myself and revel in the joy of making magic out of simplicity. 

Here was my approach:  

Have a theme/color palette. I went with nature-inspired textures and colors to go with my assortment of architectural salvage and antiques. I used a lot of pine cones, fake snow balls, wooden beads, carved reindeer and antlers. 

Pick key areas. The mantle, tree, end tables, porch, dining table and buffet are the spots I chose because they are high- traffic areas. I skipped bonus trees and out-of-the-way surfaces to streamline setup and takedown.  

Think “less is more.” Adding the right items can negate the need to start with a blank slate. I found a few key pieces meant only replacing a small number of items and made enough difference to refresh my entire look. 

Leave room to make memories. The sparser approach allowed my family to feel more relaxed. There was less worry about making room for guests and plates of goodies. 

This process inspired me to adopt this as my year-round approach to seasonal decor. A year later, I have accumulated less stuff, saved time undoing and redoing rooms, saved money by using items I already own, and was able to shop in my yard for botanical elements that are as trendy as they are sustainable. 

You can see more examples at or by following Stephanie Murray Makeovers on Facebook or Instagram. Murray can be reached at