Last week I had the privilege of leading the design on one of the homes for the Urbanna Holiday Home Tour, which ended up being a crash course in decorating for the holidays using natural, historic decor.
What is the Urbanna Holiday Home Tour?
Urbanna, Virginia is the closest town to our cottage, and it just launched its Urbanna Main Street initiative to help encourage vibrant revitalization within the community. This is part of the nationwide Main Street America program, which you may have heard of before.
Urbanna has always been a charming town, with a few shops and restaurants lining its Virginia Street, its main drag. Of all the towns along the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, I always say its the cutest. It’s a port town, unlike many of the others nearby, and the historic homes that welcome you as you drive into town are stunning. But, of course, there’s always more that can be done to bring businesses into the area while still maintaining its integrity. The Urbanna Holiday Home Tour was a kick off of sorts for the initiative — the committee behind Urbanna Main Street decided to bring it back after a several year hiatus and focus on showing off the town’s incredible historic homes.
On the tour, there were six total homes, with three dating to the 1700s — the town was officially founded in 1706, though the port was created in 1680. Guests on the tour strolled through the homes in town, then got on shuttles to visit the home I was tasked with decorated, Rosegill (not relation to our Rosehill!).
Decorating Using Natural, Historic Decor
When I found out I would not only be volunteering, but leading design on the holiday decor at Rosegill, I knew I’d have to tap into the 1,000 acre property’s incredible abundance of greenery. I didn’t want to bring in a bunch of artificial decor or colors that felt at odds with the home’s history. Instead, I wanted to embrace beautiful, natural holiday decor and colonial motifs, spruced up a bit to feel fresh and modern.
I brought in oranges that I studded with cloves, apples, and I spent far too long trying to master drying oranges — a fruitless effort, no pun intended, though I decided to go ahead with my browned oranges and consider them part of the color palette. Check out Julia Curated for an orange tutorial that came a week too late to save me.
My mom, aunt, and dad helped with the decor, and my aunt brought cranberries and a pineapple — two items that hadn’t occurred to me but that were perfect in the decor.
Then came the foraging. My dad brought in approximately 10 loads of cut magnolia branches and another volunteer, Jill, brought in holly. We incorporated these everywhere. Who knew just a few touches of magnolia could make any surface look festive?
The finishing touch was ribbon. So much ribbon. I’m not joking when I say I bought $600 worth of ribbon at Michael’s because I was so incredibly nervous we’d get there, and I wouldn’t have what I needed. With no craft store within an hour’s drive, I’d be totally out of luck. Thankfully, I have a few bags to go return this week, but we went through a lot. The result was stunning and, despite what I heard on a podcast this winter (I listened to so many holiday decor podcasts while trying to get inspiration!), wired ribbon is, in fact, the way to go.