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Holiday style: “Eclectic. A little traditional, with a little quirkiness, which is kind of like me,” Connell said. “I like glitter and jewelry and basic black.”
Double decorating: Connell decorates on two fronts in her Minneapolis home, with two distinct strategies. On the main floor, the look is more formal and traditional, with black accents to play off the animal prints in her decor, plus lots of mirror ornaments to reflect light.
Downstairs, it’s all about the family. Connell created a wall of nine personalized wreaths: one for each of her two preschool children, her husband, herself and one for each of the four grandparents, plus a center wreath framing a family photo. “It’s a good option if you’re in a condo and don’t have room for a tree,” she said. Because she does have room, she also created a Minnesota Wild-themed Christmas tree, decorated with hockey skates, sticks and topped with a helmet. (Connell’s husband, Pat, and son, Sam, 4, both play the game.) “It’s convenient that the Wild colors are red and green,” Connell said. She fashioned a tree skirt out of jerseys, and Pat added a tinfoil-wrapped “Stanley Cup.” The Wild tree was a big hit with Sam. “He told me he was very proud of me,” Connell said.
Themed trees are a fun way to celebrate a child’s favorite thing, whether it’s a ballet tree for a tiny dancer or a superhero tree for a fervent fan, she said. “As any mom or dad knows, when your kid loves something, you have enough stuff to do a tree.”
Decor tip: Connell gift-wraps boxes to complement her decor, wrapping the lids separately. The boxes remain empty until Christmas Eve, which helps her kids resist the temptation to poke curious little fingers into packages, she said. “When Santa comes, we fill them,” she said. And the boxes can be re-used year after year.
Go-to elements: For her holiday table, Connell dresses up her everyday white dishes with festive linens and vintage glassware, and spreads fresh cedar greenery. “It’s easy and inexpensive,” she said. Candles are a must. “I love them — the smell, the light. I don’t have a fireplace, so they’re a good way to give a fireplace-y warm feeling inside.” She favors groupings of votives in mercury glass because the light is soft and flattering.
Worth the effort: Even though she spends her days doing design for other people, Connell enjoys pulling out all the stops at home for the holidays. “I still love it,” she said. “I see design as something fun, that makes a house comfortable and yours. And holiday is the one time we can go over the top.”