DIY Natural Home Décor: A Review of "Beautiful Winter"

DECORATIONS TO BRIGHTEN A BLEAK WINTER

Subtitled Holiday Wreaths, Garlands & Decorations for Your Home & Table, Edle Catharina Norman's Beautiful Winter provides instructions (with photos) for over 50 winter decorations made from organic materials, each one lovely enough to brighten a wintry world.

Most materials required for Norman's projects can be found in your yard.
Most materials required for Norman's projects can be found in your yard. | Source

Norman uses organic materials such as twigs, vines, moss and fungi to create unique home décor that reflects the spirit and beauty of winter.

Beautiful Winter is a 2012 translation of the Norwegian edition first published in 2007: Vintervakkert-Kranser og Dekorasjoner (Beautiful Winter Flowers and Decorations).

Natural materials are used to create all of the DIY home decor projects in "Beautiful Winter." Pictured: my version of Norman's "Colored Twig Wreath."
Natural materials are used to create all of the DIY home décor projects in "Beautiful Winter." Pictured: my version of Norman's "Colored Twig Wreath." | Source

Her projects call for natural finds like antlers, mistletoe, larch twigs, red twig dogwood stems, chubby pine boughs, birch bark, magnolia leaves and other materials native to Europe and North America. Store-bought flowers are minimally used in Norman's arrangements and always optional. Some of the projects also re-purpose common household items, like wine bottles and cast-iron cookware.

Norman suggests materials to collect—items like feathers, stones, pillow moss, beech husks and lichen—and offers tips for storing and extending the life of them.

She includes other practical information as well: how to pin found objects like mushrooms, pine cones and chestnuts into arrangements; how to soften branches to make them pliable; and how to tie them together. For those who are new to using natural materials for making wreaths, garlands and other home décor, these sections of Beautiful Winter are particularly helpful.

WHAT'S INSIDE "BEAUTIFUL WINTER"

Beautiful Winter: Holiday Wreaths, Garlands, & Decorations for Your Home & Table
Beautiful Winter: Holiday Wreaths, Garlands, & Decorations for Your Home & Table

"Beautiful Winter" provides practical advice about using natural found objects in decorations, including how tostore natural material, soften branches, tie branches together and pin nuts, fungi and confer cones into arrangements.

 

Wreaths

Beautiful Winter has six chapters. The first, called "Wreaths," includes directions from making 11 of them, from a non-traditional wreath fashioned from bark and filled with lichen and roses to a traditional pine wreath adorned with cones.

Advent

A short chapter comprised of Advent DIY projects includes step-by-step instructions for five arrangements, including a charming bent-log candle holder and a hanging Advent wreath cum calendar.

Christmas Trees

The "Christmas Tree Ideas" chapter offers directions for making small trees with birch bark as well as pine cones. It also explains how to adorn conifers with live hyacinths, poinsettias and tulips, and how to make moss, lichen and pine cone balls, both on long stems for displaying like topiaries and with wires for hanging as ornaments.

A close-up of a free-form heart wreath based on Norman's "Birch Heart with Berries." The wreath base is comprised of intwined forsythia branches.
A close-up of a free-form heart wreath based on Norman's "Birch Heart with Berries." The wreath base is comprised of intwined forsythia branches. | Source
Vinca minor vines, nandina berries and rosemary stems are affixed to the heart wreath with hot glue and floral wire.
Vinca minor vines, nandina berries and rosemary stems are affixed to the heart wreath with hot glue and floral wire. | Source

Budget-Friendly Decor

Norman's projects are extremely budget friendly. Because I already had a glue gun, floral wire and an old wreath form, I spent nothing on the two projects that I made. Everything else came out of our yard!

Table Decorations

The "Party Table Decorations" chapter contains 10 projects, including some of the most unique ones in Beautiful Winter: hawthorn twig "pillows" adorned with cyclamen flowers and Lenten roses; amaryllis trees with stick and rope vase bases; a horn flower holder; and an amazing contemporary table decoration comprised of twigs, chicken wire, tea lights and silk flowers.

Candlesticks & Vases

The projects in the "Candlesticks and Vases" chapter unite antlers, apples, empty wine bottles, rope and small candle holders with common found natural objects like twigs, conifer cones, bark, husks and winter vines and flowers for one-of-a-kind displays that strike just the right chord for a winter home.

Winter Decorations

Like "Party Table Decorations," the "Winter Decorations" chapter of Beautiful Winter provides directions for highly unique designs—11 in all. My favorites are Norman's twig globes, twig vases and stick flowerpots. A woven curtain comprised of amaryllis and twigs is another unique standout, and her simple persicaria stalk and ivy Star of David is also absolutely lovely.

USING "BEAUTIFUL WINTER"

Forsythia branches replace birch stems in my version of Norman's "Birch Heart with Berries."
Forsythia branches replace birch stems in my version of Norman's "Birch Heart with Berries." | Source
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Unfortunately for me, none of the materials that Norman uses in her arrangements (save red twig dogwood) grow in our yard, and nearby state parks prohibit collecting plant life.

Luckily, although Norman doesn't consistently recommend specific substitutes, finding comparable materials wasn't very difficult. For instance, in lieu of larch stems, I used forsythia switches; instead of mistletoe, Vinca minor; in place of chestnut husks, dried crape myrtle.

Another problem with the book? Norman's directions for attaching branches together are impossible to follow. They simply make no sense to me, and the one picture that accompanies the instructions is little help. (How does one use continuous floral wire and tie off the two ends each time branches join? I just don't get it.) Despite that, I really love Beautiful Winter. It's inspiring. Anyone who enjoys home decorating with found objects will enjoy this book.


Copyright © 2012 by The Dirt Farmer. All rights reserved.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm. Together, they would plant acres of vegetables, setting tomato, eggplant and bell pepper plants; sowing row after row of beans, corn and squash; and building up mounds of soil for pumpkin, cantaloupe and potatoes.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

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Comments 15 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Joseph Renne. I bet you'd sell a lot of them. They're not particularly difficult to make. You just need time, patience and, of course, the materials. Nice to hear from you! Thanks for the comment.


Joseph Renne profile image

Joseph Renne 3 years ago from Milton

Nice Hub, Great ideas. I live in a wooded area that have plenty of supplies, Next year around Thanksgiving I would like to start making wreathes and selling them online or locally.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Oh Glimmer Twin Fan! Nine inches! I hope you like snow. (: We traveled through 3 inches of it (and some ice). It wasn't pleasant, but ... I have to say I love the snow when we're all tucked up safe at home.

Hey purl3agony. I'll have to look up ravelry--and look you up on it. I dream of being able to make your fingerless glove pattern.

Hi aviannovice! Always good to hear from you. It is amazing what beautiful things people can create from nature. And they look so much better than artificial. Take care! --Jill


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I have seen such beautiful things that were hand made with natural materials. My mother had a friend that taught her how to fashion Christmas wreaths, and they are gorgeous. I admire all those wonderful things. Thanks for sharing!


purl3agony profile image

purl3agony 3 years ago from USA

Hi Jill,

Hope you enjoy your knitting lessons - we need more knitters in the world :) If you decide to join ravelry, look me up. I have the same username.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Simply beautiful Jill! We got 9 inches of snow yesterday and I am still inspired to go out and pick a few berries and twigs and decorate! Pinned.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Pearl, You and I seem to like the same things. I think you would enjoy "Beautiful Winter." Wish I could find some good bark to use. I'd love to make the bark bowl and fill it with lilies.

@ Minnetonka Twin--Thanks for the votes & happy holidays to you, too! --Jill


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota

What great and creative ideas for decorations. I hit all buttons except funny. The photo's really helped me see the finished product. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 3 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

I'm glad you did this review, Jill. This book looks like it is right up my alley! I have a lot of these objects that I collect just because they are natural and cool looking. I've been collecting pine cones and bark forever because it is so interesting. Love the different lichens and moss I find in the woods, and of course twigs are easy to come by. But I never knew how to preserve them, especially the moss, so they would last longer.

"Beautiful Winter" will be in my library very soon! Thanks so much. Voted Up, useful, beautiful and interesting.

Pearl


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi purl3agony! Good to hear from you. I got three knitting lessons at a local knitting store as a stocking stuffer this year. I'm really looking forward to learning--and trying out your fingerless glove pattern! Thanks for leaving a comment. Take care, Jill


purl3agony profile image

purl3agony 3 years ago from USA

Jill - This book looks beautiful. The photos alone are very inspiring. Thanks for the thoughtful review!


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Hi Jackie! Glad the review of "Beautiful Winter" conjured up some nice memories for you. Take care--and thanks for commenting. Jill


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Very beautiful. As a child I made wreaths from ground pine but not in years have I even seen any. I love the acorns I come across and they would make some lovely decorations. Thank you.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, carol7777. I really enjoyed the book.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

Lovely ideas....Bring the outdoors in...thanks and voting up and pinning.

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