Designer Kelly Deck can't help herself—she becomes a one-woman sweatshop around Christmas. "Me and my madness," she laughs. "I have a production going in my living room for three or four days. But it's all very lovingly done."
Deck and her team added Christmas sparkle to this Vancouver home—a space they'd recently renovated and furnished—for last year's Kids Help Phone Homes for the Holidays tour. Filled with a mix of handmade decorations, luxury items and natural greenery, the rooms became a graceful take on seasonal decor.
Decorating with gold
Starting with a colour palette of blues and greens, Deck's team added touches of antiqued gold. Two identical trees in the home's warm living room are dotted with crystal snowflakes and stars, along with Indian-inspired decorations cut in intricate Moorish patterns. Small hits of gold warm up the silver and crystal decor, a signature move for Deck. "Gold is so warm and inviting, and it really makes things festive," she says. "Stick with champagne or antiqued gold over brassy yellow golds."
The decorations themselves came from shops all over Vancouver. "We looked for them everywhere, which is key with Christmas decorating," says Deck. "We went to higher-end stores like Liberty, but we also hit Michaels and Ikea." It's all part of the fun, she says. "It's a big excursion around town. It's nice to get caught up in a theme, to get lost in it together. And that's the point of Christmas—to really enjoy the time out with your family."
Handmade decorations are standard fare for Deck, and stockings sewn by her and her team—in warm linens and complete with hand-stitched beads—line the fireplace.
The homeowner has two children, so the team had fun handcrafting Advent calendars that outshine the store-bought cardboard variety. "It just has to be a repetition of one thing, and it looks great," explains Deck. For the girl, 24 white baby mitts were filled with tiny presents—candy, lip balm—and a joke of the day. For the boy, 24 white loot bags held toys and Canucks trivia (he's an avid hockey fan). "The kids went crazy for it!"
Bake to eat, and to give
The kitchen—kept airy in whites and marble to compensate for low ceilings—got a homey touch with home-baked cookies (see Kelly Deck's favourite recipe in the sidebar). Each piped cookie is wrapped in a muslin gift bag that bears a handwritten label. "They're great for the kids to bring to school just before holidays," says Deck, "or as a gift when visiting friends."
Fresh greens throughout add scent and a natural touch to the home. A silver-dipped eucalyptus wreath hangs above the fireplace—hand tied, for that hit of rustic imperfection—and cedar boughs are draped over the staircase to welcome visitors.
The result is an understated but festive space that blends sparkle with natural elements, warm gold with rich greens and cool blues—a perfect effect for a homeowner who loves a bit of glam (note the pewter wallpaper in the dining room, and a sultry black bar room). "She loves sparkle and shine," agrees Deck. "She's a bit of a diva!" wl
This year's Kids Help Phone Homes for the Holidays tours run November 26 to 27 in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, and November 18 to 20 in Regina. For more info, visit khphomesfortheholidays.ca.
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
From the Hungry Housewife
"Sugar cookies" and "cut-out sugar cookies" are two different animals. If you try to make your standard soft and chewy sugar cookie recipe to roll out and cut, you'll get a shapeless blob.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp almond or vanilla extract, or a
mix of both
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and extract and beat to incorporate.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined.
Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll to ⅜-inch thickness in between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Remove dough and cut to desired shape. Place the formed cookies back in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes. Take the scraps and re-roll them to ⅜ inches in the parchment paper and re-chill before cutting out again.
Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cookie.
Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Cool completely before
icing. Makes approximately 36 cookies.
Royal Icing Cookie Glaze
¾ cup warm water
5 tbsp meringue powder (add 1 tsp of clear vanilla if powder is not already flavoured)
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 ¾ lbs powdered sugar
In a mixer bowl, whisk the warm water and the meringue powder together for about 30 seconds, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds. Pour all of the sugar in at once and place on the mixer. Using a paddle
attachment on the lowest speed, mix slowly for 10 full minutes until the icing is thick and creamy (like Elmer's glue).
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth to prevent drying and crusting. If you find the icing too thick, you can thin it by adding in water by the tablespoon.
Icing Tips: Fill your icing bag by placing the bag in a cup with a wet paper towel in the bottom. The wet paper towel keeps the icing from leaking, and the tip from clogging.
Using a #4 tip, outline the cookie ¼ inch in from its edge. Then immediately fill in your cookie using the same tip. If there are any missed spots, take a toothpick and smear the icing into the missed spots.
After all of your decorating is complete, it's very important that your icing dries completely—about 12 to 16 hours on cooling racks out in the open. wl