A Very Chartreuse Christmas in a Tiny Apartment by

Issue 102 · Winter Lights · December 12, 2013

A Very Chartreuse Christmas in a Tiny Apartment

Issue 102 · Winter Lights · December 12, 2013

Holiday decorations take some some tweaking, especially when you're hankering for a change. This year, I started off by going big. I decided that I wasn't going to be wimp out and make a small wall display. No, I was going to go all out. I envisioned garlands with multiple layers of fruit and greens and berries draping from the loft where my husband and I sleep. The staircase leading up to the loft would be swathed in more of the same, no matter if they utterly interfered with the nightly scramble in and out of bed. In my head it was wintry fairyland or bust.

So I trekked to 28th Street, and came home with a Kraft paper torch filled with greens in a palette of chartreuse and lime and something that my 10-year-old self would have called "forest green." For fruit, I bought a bundle of kumquat branches. For a pop of brightness, I chose something that I would normally just call cedar, but Lindsey has taught me it's more likely Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Special Variegated.' For a bit of classic wintry greenery, I had branches of the same dark green pine with cones still attached that I used in my fire starters

I set to work on garlands and quickly discovered that I wouldn't have materials enough to create quite the look I'd intended—a blessing in disguise. Instead I made swags. Except instead of being tiny, these were robust affairs of a scale better fit for a castle than a studio apartment with a loft. Still, I pressed on. I strung up lights. (This year I had sense enough to use tiny lights instead of the string of inch-long beacons I'd set up last year, nearly blinding myself and the entire block of neighbors.)

When I was finally finished, my husband James came home and smiled. "A little claustrophobic in here, don't you think?" he asked.

Miserably, I agreed. So I started again, with a tempered plan: 

Photographs by Erin Boyle.  Photography shot with the Canon EOS 70D digital SLR camera, with Dual Pixel AF technology and built-in Wi-Fi.

a very chartreuse christmas | winter

Above: The remains of my well-intentioned, but entirely too large swags.

a very chartreuse christmas in a tiny apartment | gardenista

Above: I dismantled one of the swags and made iteration number two: tiny wreaths that also proved too much in such a small apartment. Try, try again.

a very chartreuse christmas in a tiny apartment | gardenista

Above: The reckoning. I laid out my materials to take account of what I had to work with and what I could make. Among the loot: washi tape in two shades of green (mine from a Japanese Washi Tape 12-Pack in Rainbow Colors, $30 from Cute Tape); Foil Tape in Brass ($5.49 from Ranger Ink); 24-gauge Gold Floral Wire ($2.55 from Mardi Gras Outlet), and all of my greens.

  a very chartreuse christmas in a tiny apartment | gardenista

Above: And then I started taping. Taping and snipping and generally trying to make a little something out of entirely too much.

a very chartreuse christmas in a tiny apartment | gardenista

Above: I settled on a making a kind of two-dimensional wreath, a variation on last year's design in a whole new color scheme.

A Very Chartreuse Christmas in a Tiny Apartment

Above: On the table below, a tiny Christmas tree and tapers because this time of year calls for both.

a very chartreuse christmas in a tiny apartment | gardenista

Above: Over the mirror that hangs above the couch, a simple garland and a view of the wreath wall in the "distance."

A Very Chartreuse Christmas in a Tiny Apartment

Above: Looking down from the top of the stairs, the wreath looks festive, but doesn't make me want to retreat.

Above: On the ledge, I compromised with a much more delicate garland made only of pine and tiny lights. I used 22-Gauge Copper Wire ($5.29 at Home Depot) to fashion makeshift hooks to hold the garland and lights in place. (I used a 15-foot string of Starry String Lights; $40 from Restoration Hardware.) N.B. The lights glow a touch on the green side, a combination of the golden mixing with the blue tint of the LED, I think. In this year's color scheme the color worked well, but I might consider the silver strand in the future.

Above: And there you have it, the finished piece and a reminder that bigger is sometimes not at all better.

Think small with Tiny Trees: Window Boxes to Last All Winter and DIY: Holiday Decor for Small Spaces.



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