Apartment Living | Decorating for the Holidays

Especially for those of us who grew up in the suburbs and headed out for the adventure of the city, apartment life can seem impossible for holiday decorations. Not only do you do not have room for a picture postcard holiday tree, we renters often lack the storage for the full 12 days-of-Christmas style knickknacks that ring in the season. If you're sharing space with roommates, you may also have to worry about whose side of the hall we’re decking. However, there are a number of ways to make it feel like the most wonderful time of the year even in the tiniest of spaces (and budgets):

Miniature Trees. Maybe it was because they were made fun of in an old Charlie Brown special or something, but mini Christmas trees have been given a bad rap. However, whether it’s a live miniature tree or an artificial set-up, a little tree can totally transform the mood of a room without feeling desperate. The secret is to decorate small trees sparingly: don’t try to pack all of the bells and whistles you might with a full size tree, lest you create a feeling of busy holiday chaos, not cheer. For an edgier tree, think about decorating less traditional flora, such as bonsai trees or even bare branches from the streets.

Holiday Balcony. Even when it’s not a holiday, extending your decor onto even the tiniest balcony can visually expand the sense of space in your apartment, adding a seasonal touch creates an especially warm outside glow that brings the interior space alive (For this effect, even fire escapes are perfect). Decorating railings with holiday lights, pine boughs, and even tinsel imparts a festive ambiance, which you can spruce up with an array of votives and patterned lanterns. If you celebrate Christmas, your balcony can be a great place to transplant the kind of outdoor displays usually reserved for front lawns, such as model nativity scenes.

Tabletop Fireplace. There may be nothing more holiday-invoking and cozy that a roaring fireplace — or more of a deal breaker in an apartment situation. After all, it’s hard to roast chestnuts over an open space heater.

However, many vendors now offer a selection of practical, self-contained area fireplaces that provide the heat (not to mention the visual warmth) of a real fireplace in a non-hazardous way.

Mock Mantels. Half of the charm of a seasonal fireplace is having a mantelpiece, so consider giving a makeover to a hallway coat rack or wall shelf to bring on the same effect. A little lace, a few sprigs of holly, and a few cherubs or menorah can go on top, with stockings hung in place of coats below.  

Spice Up Your Bookshelves. In a limited space, it’s likely that you don’t have room to set up a special holiday display unit. However, not only do bookshelves provide lots of opportunities for draping laurels, tinsel, and ribbons, but they are also great places to spread out seasonal chotchkies like figurines, collectors’ plates, music boxes, nutcrackers and more. As all apartment denizens know, the secret with decorating in any season is to take advantage of spaces not being used and to re-purpose familiar settings and accessories. Furthermore, since atmosphere is everything, fill the air with the sounds and aromas of the season for maximum effect: a few pine-scented candles and a Tony Bennett holiday record will transport us back to those idyllic winters of childhood in no time. 

This post was written by Uma Campbell. She is a writer from Southern California and currently writes for Soothing Company. If you would like to be a Crafted Love contributing writer, email me at allison[at]craftedlove.com

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