About two weeks ago I had an idea for a holiday post: to reach out to some of my favorite creative minds in Kansas City and ask them to send me a photo of something holiday-decor related in their home that is special to them, along with a description of their pick in their own words. I thought it could be fun to take a peek into these trailblazer’s homes and see a little bit of their holiday through their eyes.
To be perfectly honest, I really did not have the highest expectations that I would get many takers on participating in this post. I mean, the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for all of us and these individuals are some of the hardest working hustlers and kick-ass business bosses in Kansas City. No way would they have time in their busy day-to-day to send their image and words to my little home-grown decor blog.
But I was wrong.
From previous work in Kansas City and from my personal experience in starting Brookside On Main, I have found that the creative and local community in and around KC is something very special. This community supports one another! Like honestly and truly shows up, encourages, mentors and motivates. It’s kind of amazing. So not only did I get takers on this holiday post… I got 21!
So, on to the good stuff!
Carrie Kiefer & Morgan Georgie
To start us off we have the lovely owners of KC based Ampersand Design Studio, Carrie Kiefer and Morgan Georgie whose artwork and designs can be seen in retailers such as Land of Nod, Tiny Prints, Giggle and Windham Fabrics as well as their own line of products sold in shops around the globe.
“These wooden ornaments are some that we designed for The Land of Nod a few years back. We each have one to represent each member of our family and they are sentimental to us because they represent a dream we had when we started our business of designing for Nod, one of our favorite companies!”
“I’m in the middle of a home renovation so my family of four is currently living in our basement. The one thing I knew we needed to find a place for, to keep the Christmas traditions going, was our advent calendars! Ampersand actually designed these for Land of Nod, now Crate & Kids with our own kids in mind, so it feels extra special that they really do love them and can’t wait for the countdown to Christmas to start each year! My boys are 8 and 4 and they LOVE keeping track of the number of days ’til Christmas!”
Abby is a familiar face around the Brookside neighborhood in Kansas City. As owner of Coco and Lady Bye and a woman of impeccable taste and style, she has brought a serious dose of fashion to the neighborhood and beyond.
“This nativity was gifted to me by my Sunday School teacher when I was five years old. Then, and for many years to come, I 100% believed the layers looked like chocolate, and at any moment I might be able to eat them. Now, 33 years later, it not only is a reminder of my childhood, but it also recalls the love and devotion my mom put into decorating our house for Christmas. Every object had a memory and a story, complete with my mother’s handwritten inscription, stored in the very box my five-year-old hands once held.”
This up and coming artist and graphic designer’s work can be seen in some of the best local shops Kansas City has to offer. You probably have seen some of Kristie’s work in the windows of boutiques such as Ulah, Lady Bye, Coco, Addie Rose and more.
“Every Christmas since I can remember my mom has given me a Santa statue. I always thought it was funny that she forced me to become a ‘Santa Collector’ but now I look forward every year to getting one and putting them all on display.”
1DAPPERLATINO aka J. Josue Montes
1DapperLatino is just that, dapper. This “man around town” seriously does it all! Fashion, interior design, blogger, instagrammer, influencer and a man who knows how to wear a hat well! He injects style everywhere he goes.
So…..this was the first picture I received from him, with the following text.
“I literally just dropped and broke my FAVORITE ornament trying to get a great picture of it! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Yep. That happened.
But, being the good guy that he is, he promptly sent me another.
“My partner and I purchased our first Christmas tree 5 years ago when we moved into our home here in Brookside. Since I’m a huge fan of hats I knew I didn’t want to put a traditional star on the top of the tree. So I decided on topping off our Christmas tree with an oversized top hat! It’s quite a ‘Dapper’ tree.”
Amina Marie Hood
Amina Marie Hood is a milliner and designer whose gorgeous and artistic custom designed hats have been featured in various magazines, museum exhibits and runway shows worldwide. Amina, in addition to her Amina Marie Millinery line, continues to elevate the fashion scene with her recently launched a ready to wear line, A. Hood.
“This is a wooden, laser-cut Christmas tree that I picked up from a local KC maker @giltyjewels. I love supporting locally all year round.”
Audrey literally does it all. Designer, blogger, DIYer, photographer, maker and mom, she truly does make everything “Oh So Lovely!”
“I adore this 1980’s vintage Santa pillow from my Grandma Donna. It’s my favorite holiday decor item to pull out and display each season. The vintage colors and style remind me of the holidays as a kid and always make me smile.”
“I recently made some fun and easy DIY holiday terrariums using items from a local thrift store. I love how unique, festive and affordable they are as a dining table centerpiece.”
Terrin is one hardworking, busy gal. As co-owner of the popular KC based Squints apparel, she can also be seen performing her visual merchandising magic at Golden & Pine as well as working as my partner in crime in interior design consults.
“Our tree is the most special holiday decor in our house because it was the tree my parents had when I was growing up. When Billy and I had our first Christmas together in the same home we really wanted a bigger tree, from the little 3 foot tree that was in my apartment before, and my parents said we could have this tree! It’s special to us and we’ve made it our own over the last couple of years with keepsake ornaments and pictures of our pups and what not. But I hope it lasts us for years to come and we can share it with a family of our own someday!”
Besides being one of the nicest people EVER, and I really mean ever, Jennifer Bertrand is also one crazy talented interior designer. This wife and mother to Winston, is best known as the winner of HGTV’s Design Star who then moved on to her own show Paint Over! with Jennifer Bertrand. Jennifer has gone on to design for countless clients and has been featured in many national news and media outlets.
“My fave decoration is my collection of Winston and Santa images…they vary from traumatized to only slightly creeped out and they crack me up every year! He will be 50 and I will still be getting out my collection of photos!”
A welcome new addition to Kansas City, textile designer Chanee Vijay, has recently opened her design studio and retail space in the Brookside East neighborhood. Chanee hand prints and paints all of her designs on organic European hemp and linen which is then sewn into gorgeous home decor pieces. Her designs have been seen in national and international publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Lonny Magazine, Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy and more.
“I definitely subscribe to a ‘less is more’ aesthetic during the holidays. I keep my holiday decorations subtle and shimmery by using natural garland and metallics. This year I draped a cedar garland over my mantle and added warm LED lights. I feel like it adds so much warmth and elegance to the existing decor.”
In her time as a makeup artist, Kendall has worked with many different cosmetic companies and brands, and has applied makeup to thousands of people. Kendall created The Guide To Getting Glam and Glam Bootcamp to provide women with the tools to bring out their individual beauty and style without spending an hour getting ready in the morning because, as Kendall says ‘ain’t nobody got time for that!’ (and I couldn’t agree more!)
“This is an embroidery created by my grandmother, and passed down to me from my mother. It’s so intricate, it must have taken her a long time to make it. I love to look at it during the holidays because it reminds me of her.”
KC based artist, Cody Brown, is one busy dude. Between creating stunning custom art pieces for clients, statement furniture or jaw-dropping chandeliers, Cody also works as an interior designer and renovator of some of Kansas City’s beautiful older homes. Loving what he does for a living Cody will enthusiastically tell you, “I make cool shit for people.” You can’t say he’s not honest!
“As a child I grew up helping both my grandmas decorate the trees every year. They both had such style and grace. I also think that is where my love of all things vintage comes from. As I grew up they both began to give me things over the years that I adore and love. I have amassed a gorgeous collection of their vintage hand blown glass ornaments that I feel make the tree every year. I adore pairing these with new modern gold and glass along with my childhood decorations I made in school as a kid. My mother saved them for me and I feel my tree tells a story of my life and every year I always add new ones that have their own memories.”
Working as a stylist, writer and author of the hugely popular fashion and lifestyle blog Melanie Knopke Style Scout, one wonders how this busy mom of two has enough time in the day to get everything done! But Melanie does, and she does it all with impeccable style. While not “technically” still a Kansas City based creative, following she and her family’s recent move to Los Angeles, Melanie’s impact on the Kansas City creative community is lasting. Even though she is farther away, she will always have a presence and place in KC!
“Each year my mom hand paints blue and white ornaments for our living room tree. I love that over the years we have been able to fill our tree with a handmade treasure that is so unique and memorable.”
The second of our “not technically KC based” creatives is Maggie Heck Boroujerdi. Maggie hails from Kansas but has called New York City home for the past 20 years. A former graphic designer and past Associate Art Director at Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, this mother of two now writes the popular food, DIY and lifestyle blog Rock + Paper + Skillet.
“My mom sewed this back in 1976, two years before I was born and four years before opening Stitch-On Needlework Shop in Lawrence, Kansas. Time and love go into any project you choose to make with your hands. In this digital age it feels like those handmade things are harder to come by, so this needlepoint Santa made by mom’s hands holds a special place in my heart this time of year. Plus, he’s just so damn jolly!”
With a presence in Kansas City for more than 13 years, Andrea has basically been in the business of making brides very happy (not always the easiest thing to do!) However, Andrea deftly succeeds at this task by creating stunning settings for hundreds of weddings and events as owner of premiere event floral design business, Branches & Twigs.
“These were made by my grandfather and they are so treasured that I keep them out all year long. They used to be exclusively Christmas decor, but once I lost my grandfather, I didn’t want to put them away. I love to look at them and remember what a special guy he was.”
Kiffany and her husband Steve are making KC a sweeter place with the opening of their cotton candy business, Cottontale KC. But this is not your typical blue and pink cotton candy of circus and ball game days. Kiffany has elevated this childhood favorite to a grown up audience with their dye free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, allergy free confections in flavors such as pina colada, maple bacon, pink lemonade, cookie dough, egg nog, candy cane and more!
“Our family always puts out Nutcrackers for the holidays. My parents gave me the older one on the right, and each one of our boys has their own too! It fits perfect with our Christmas tradition of going to see the Nutcracker Ballet each year as well!”
Jennifer Janesko takes the word “creative” and and implements it in the truest sense of the word! As an artist and jewelry and accessory designer, Jennifer exudes style and beauty in all that she does. She also has one of the most enviable travel portfolios that I have had the pleasure of living vicariously through, which you can also follow along with on her instagram @follow_those_girls.
“My favorite home decor item is the vintage aluminum Christmas tree we purchased six years ago. The rotating light stopped working, so we will have to find another one, but it sparkles unlit as well. It’s the perfect fit for our renovated 1959 home!”
Billy Brimblecom, Jr.
As Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Steps of Faith Foundation, Billy Brimblecom, Jr. is in the business of changing people’s lives. Steps of Faith restores mobility to amputees by providing prosthetic limbs to those that are underinsured or uninsured. Billy is also the co-creator of Thundergong!, a benefit concert, with his good friend Jason Sudeikis, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Steps of Faith Foundation. And if you don’t already think this father of two is busy enough, he and his lovely wife Allison are members of the popular “tribute to Yacht Rock” band, Summer Breeze, where Billy gets to showcase his crazy talents on the drums.
“This, quite simply, is my family’s stockings. I’ve always loved Christmas. This is important, because Christmas has become so much more fun and important now that I have a family of my own. They were so excited to hang these stockings and decorate the tree. It represents what the season is all about, in my opinion, which is family and love. I look at this and feel thankful.”
Being a mom is great, kind of a mess, a bit frustrating, and can kinda sorta drive you off the deep end some days and Libby Cessor is a mom that knows all about these “mom feelings.” This blogger and vlogger offers up amazing family related lifestyle tips and advice with a serious dose of humor to help all of us parents out there keep on keeping on.
“These carolers, and characters including Scroodge and Tiny Tim used to sit each Christmas on the mantle of my Nana’s living room. She would have them set out much more beautifully than I have them here, but even in my style (which is no style at all) they are so special. On the bottom of each wooden stand is her name written in her handwriting in ballpoint pen, and dated 1968. There is also a stamp of “The Four Sisters” with their address in Independence, MO, where they were handmade. In the off season, they are carefully kept in the box that she kept them in marked “Carolers and Dickens and other Christmas items” also in her handwriting. My nana is in heaven, and I know if she were here, she’d have a lovely story of how they became hers. They are such a special memory of her, and I love getting them out each year.”
This fashionable mom and working woman is also the author of Lattes and Lavender, a popular fashion and lifestyle blog. Whether hanging with her husband, daughter and Frechie pup, drinking Rosé with friends or dreaming of Paris, Noelani packs everything she does with her signature sense of impeccable style.
“My favorite holiday decor is definitely wreaths and garland! I love them so much that I wish I could keep them up all year! There’s nothing that makes me happier than staring into this room and seeing them up alongside the tree. It truly is a magical time of the year.”
Artist, Samantha Sullentrup, has a keen appreciation for the simple pleasures in life, to be able to slow down and take in life’s blessings. This mama of three spreads that philosophy and goodness in her gorgeous custom portraits of homes and families.
“These plates are my favorite Christmas decor because they are from my childhood. My mom handed them off to me this year and I couldn’t be more excited to host gatherings with them and have my kids eat off them during the holidays and just see the joy that little Christmas trees bring! Christmas is a time for gathering together and by having the space looking so inviting, I undoubtedly will want to have people over every weekend!”
I didn’t want to miss out on the holiday sharing fun! A little snippet on me, I started Brookside On Main as a creative project to share my love of home decor and interiors and my passion for writing. I have been amazed and humbled at those who have been willing to share their homes with me and to hear their stories. I don’t know where this “project” of mine will lead but I’m having such a fun time doing it and I hope my readers enjoy it just as much as I do!
“Beginning when I was very young my mother would take my sister and I to Halls Department store (on the Plaza) every year to choose one of their beautiful ornaments. We would spend so much time carefully choosing what we thought was “the best one” to bring home for our tree. We started a list that tells the year and what ornament we picked, so I have a catalog of all the ornaments that I have chosen over the years. This tradition went on into adulthood. Since moving back to Kansas City, I have continued this tradition with my own children and we catalog theirs as well. I hope that these ornaments will be as special to them someday as they are to me.”
I once again want to thank the amazing individuals who agreed to take part in this post. To share a little bit of your home and holidays has been very special. I can’t tell you all enough how much I have enjoyed reading your words describing what your holiday choice means to you. I am so happy to be a small part of this amazing and supportive community.
This will be my last post of 2018 and I can’t think of a better way to end what has been a pretty great year!
There is much more to come on this space for the New Year and I hope you all continue to follow along! Much love and appreciation to you all!
Happy Holidays and cheers to a successful, healthy, happy and blessed 2019!