Design & Style
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Easy Holiday Décor for the Cabin

Decorations could be hiding in the attic or at a thrift store
By Linda Kast
Published: December 3, 2013
Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays – unless of course, you’re heading to the cabin for some serious winter merrymaking. Maybe it’s the snow, or the cold, or the ice, but the lure of cabin country to celebrate the holidays is inescapable. And when you get there, what’s the first thing you have in mind? If you’re like the rest of us, it’s relaxing and having fun skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or just winding down in front of a roaring fireplace with those you love.

In any case, decorating a tree or dressing up the mantel might not make the top 10 on your to-do list. Well, we’ve got some ideas that’ll take the drudgery out of decorating. For our purposes, we pulled together old stashes of craft supplies, flea market and antique store finds, and a few kitchen staples to create a hearth with a warm holiday glow.

Here’s how to chart your way to a low-stress holiday decorating scheme by making the most of what you have already on hand and what you might be able to scrounge up. These tips will help you bring a relaxed but festive touch to your surroundings. Scroll down for a gallery of Lisa and Linda's DIY design.

Pick a theme
The first thing to do is focus on a theme. Keep it simple by picking one that’s personal, like old photos, nature or books you’ve read over the summer. Or you could choose something that you collect, such as holiday cards, old kitchen tools or ribbon. Or maybe you’ll want to go with a style that’s very different from anything you use in your full-time residence. For instance, if your everyday home is decorated in a Victorian or country style, you might elect something more eclectic or rustic for your holiday décor.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, start to imagine where and how you can incorporate different elements. Then every time you’re out and about, whether you’re strolling the beach, browsing the bookstore, or sampling a new flavor at the coffee shop, you’ll see things in a different light. Just think about how you might reuse something in a decorative way.

Focus on the hunt
Finding no-frills odds and ends that can be repurposed as holiday treasure is a cabin tradition for Lisa Bergman. She visits the local “waste disposal site” whenever she spends time at her family cabin in Wisconsin. But understand that this is no ordinary disposal site. In fact, it’s more like a roped-off island designated for people to discard items they no longer want that others could still possibly use. Visitors are encouraged to search the discards for what they might find useful, practical or downright decorative. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

So, what do you do if there’s no such friendly dump in your neck of the woods? Take stock of what you have on hand that could lend itself to a new use. Look around your cabin, check the junk drawers, the kitchen cabinets, the attic, and the storage shed for hidden treasures you can reuse to deck the hearth, the mantel and more.

There are lots of local places, too, where the thrill of the hunt can net you a bevy of soon-to-become holiday decorations. Take a trip to the local thrift store, antique shop, flea market or hit a few garage sales. If you set out with a goal in mind and keep your eyes open, there’s no telling what you’ll discover.

Bring it all together
With your theme in mind, gather all the items you’ve collected together, and start the assembly. It may take a few attempts, but after a little rearranging, things soon fall into place. Don’t be afraid to mix textures. Glass, wire, used objects and fabric from indoors, plus wood, greenery, stones and twigs from outside will give your fireplace setting plenty of charm and warmth. We used all these items in our hearth arrangement. We also used a simple color scheme of red and white to help unify the various elements. 

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William Zuback
If you set out with a goal in mind and keep your eyes open, there's no telling what you'll discover.

Styling by Lisa Bergman

easy holiday decor journal memories
Many cabin owners use a journal to collect and share memories from visitors, whether family or friends. If you haven’t started the tradition yet, try launching this idea at Thanksgiving. Have all your family members write down their favorite cabin memory on a torn piece of red or white craft paper. Roll it into a tube and secure it with colored twine. When decorating your hearth, tie these little memory markers to a strand of garland draped on the mantel. Then on your last night at the cabin, brew some hot cocoa, make a big bowl of popcorn, unroll the memories, and read them out loud.
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