...come in small packages: a style maven’s magic touch
The mom blogger and her three kids sit on the festive front steps.; a rustic advent calendar includes a daily Bible scripture and an activity such as singing a carol or baking cookies.
Some people simply have a knack for making a house feel like home. Such is the case with Brooke Christen, a friendly, down-to-earth mother and style maven behind the popular blog Nesting With Grace. Christen, her husband, and two girls, six and nine, moved to Fairfield three years ago from Utah, where she was a store manager and buyer for a high-end interior-design firm. “After we moved I was busy with the kids and remodeling the house, but I still needed a creative outlet,” she explains.
Her son Finn was born a year and a half later, and Christen was already on a roll. She started her Instagram account less than three years ago, her blog followed soon after, and now 130,000 followers—mostly women ages 34 to 60 from the New York area—look to her sage advice on how to style their homes.
“People connect with my smaller house and I share things I’m passionate about—primarily how to create a happy, stylish home and life,” she says. Christen’s message is that everyone can have a home that is beautifully decorated, regardless of its size, how much money you have or how busy you are. Most of her time these days is spent working with different brands and companies on sponsorship deals. “If I wouldn’t buy the item myself or it’s not interesting to my followers I won’t feature it,” she says.
Her own cozy 1,100-square-foot residence near the beach is dripping with charm, and at no time is this more evident than during the holidays. How does she manage to make her nest photo-ready? “I don’t spread Christmas on every piece of furniture I have,” she says. Christen has an eclectic style that is welcoming, fresh and festive, yet she’s a big advocate for less is more, particularly when décor is thematic.
“Getting your house ready for the holidays doesn’t have to mean red and green, or all about Santa,” she notes. Her advice is to think about each room, decide where the focal point is, then limit “decorating” to a few areas. She also suggests storing some of your year-round knick-knacks so the space won’t feel cluttered.
Christen’s holiday home displays a delicate balance of staging and living, but most importantly, it reads lots of fun. In her family room, she changes out some accessories, like throw pillows, to more of a white palette. On the bookshelves, she artfully arranges a few mini snow-flocked trees, antlers, ornaments and some nutcrackers.
A simple wreath from Target hangs on the window, and a pair of mini faux trees light up a distressed sideboard that holds the family stockings. The Christmas cheer is joyful and celebratory, but not overwhelming.
What’s interesting is that it’s highlighted by some of Christen’s vintage treasures such as an antique typewriter and a collection of white Earthenware pitchers. Her great grandmother’s piano, painted a Paris Gray sits center stage in front of fresh garland that cascades down a staircase wrapped with star string lights. When it comes to trimming her large tree, Christen gets the family involved.
One year she made salt dough ornaments with her daughter’s birthday party guests. “We like to make something with the kids to put on the tree each year,” she says. Another tip: Don’t forget your front door and porch. This year, Christen will paint her in a festive color and hang a scarf over the knocker so it hangs down behind a pretty wreath.
Artwork plays an important part of this blogger’s design, and her philosophy is to buy original or limited editions when possible. She sources many of her pieces online at sites like Etsy and Minted, and believes that investing in art doesn’t have to be super expensive.
“Buying an original work of art tells your story better than buying something mass-produced,” she notes. Other tricks of her trade include using fresh greens to add a nice scent and organic element to a room. She buys fresh garlands, then refreshes it when necessary with some pine clipped from her own yard. Accent lighting is another way to evoke a festive feel, whether it’s with hanging lights, lamps or strands of light.
“I never turn on overhead lights,” she laughs. Christen tends to invest in one collectable piece a year, such as a nice ornament, that can be passed down through her family. “When you’re really going to spend, do some research and invest in something nice that will last,” she advises.
During the holidays Christen teams up with different blog home tours online so her followers can see her holiday creations and get inspiration from other talented homeowners. Her blog also features “favorite things” every Friday.
She often asks her readers for tips on how they personalize their spaces, and in doing so providesan inspirational community for those who love her special touches that make a home feel lived in and happy.
One of her blog posts has a quote, “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the most of everything.” Christen’s aim is to broadcast this ideology year-round, worldwide. “Decorating, cooking great food, all the nice things in life are accessible to everyone, even if you live in a small space,” notes the blogger. “You don’t have to have a big house to enjoy your home.”