Into The Woods
A New Home and Holiday Decor
Joanna Grzeszczak, also known by her blog name Joanna Anastasia, had been begging her husband, Vincent, to move to suburban Montreal for quite some time. After living in the city for eleven years, Joanna was ready to leave the busy-ness of Montreal and enjoy the slower pace of the suburbs. Eventually Vincent was swayed and the couple, with their three children in tow, moved to a 1980s Colonial home outside Montreal on lush, wooded acreage. “At first, Vincent didn’t love the home,” laughs Joanna of the decades-old finishes and dark, earth-tone color palette throughout. “But I could see past those eyesores and see the potential.”
Part of what attracted Joanna to the home was its idyllic, woodland setting, delicately set among large, towering pine trees, which the decor blogger easily envisioned covered with snow for much of the year. “For me, it was all about the home’s surroundings,” she says. “The trees are so romantic. This home had the whole package of being immersed in nature.” What it also had potential for: a blank canvas for the blogger to design traditional, rustic-themed holiday decor.
When the family moved into their new home that September, they removed the worn-out carpeting throughout, painted the beige walls white, and removed some of the dated tile work. In the family room, Joanna installed peel-and-stick wallpaper that mimics white shiplap along one of the accent walls. “I wanted to try shiplap in that space but didn’t want to commit to it,” she says. “This removable wallpaper was such an easy way to test that out.” Similarly, the pair of sconces, which flank the large window, are not functional but were a way for Joanna to add interest before committing to drilling holes in the walls for electrical. Once some of the eyesores were removed, the blogger could truly begin her design work.
“The setting of this home lends itself to bringing the outdoors in,” she says of her everyday and holiday decor. With that in mind, Joanna kept the color palette neutral with heavy doses of white and off white throughout accented with organic wood finishes and milky white paint. The furnishings are mainly repurposed pieces from the family’s previous home or from their family including the Chesterfield sofas and chair (from Leon’s Furniture) in the family room, which were originally housed at her mother-in-law’s. “These sofas are just so cozy and comfortable that I knew they’d be perfect in our family room,” she says. “I wanted this cozy, homey feeling. The feeling that you can just sink into your pillows, cozy up with a book, have guests feel welcome, kids lay on the floor with their books and not feel too formal.” The oversize coffee table was a piece from Vincent’s former apartment, which Joanna transitioned into their family room to serve as additional seating.
Utilizing what she had at the ready, Joanna added greenery to her tablescapes, mantel decor, and more to provide that seamless transition for the eye from the outside in. “Finding this balance of what fits with your home and the architecture and style of your home is important,” she says. “Greenery is a part of our decor, it’s part of where our home is, how it looks, what the style of it is, so it was important to incorporate that.”
Most of Joanna’s decorations are handmade utilizing pieces of burlap or fabric she has on hand, coupled with new items such as candles. Most notable are the decorations passed down to her children, who now love the holidays as much as their mother. “Because I was blogging about holiday decor, I needed to decorate my kids’ rooms, too,” she explains. “So one year I added a small Christmas tree and from there it’s just become a tradition for each to have their own small trees in their rooms to decorate.”
Joanna admits that they’re still constantly updating and evolving the interior design of their home not to mention always adding to their holiday decor, year after year. “It’s an ongoing task,” she laughs of her laundry list of projects. But with a little ingenuity and eye for design, Joanna knows she can tackle pretty much anything using exactly what she has on hand.
/ Written by Blake Miller. Photography courtesy of Joanna Anastasia.