At Tree Classics, we believe that two heads are better than one, and so we are more than happy to welcome our second brand ambassador, Jennifer Lutz!
A design and decorating enthusiast, Jen has over a decade of experience staging professional home décor photo shoots and designing homes for special events, such as holiday gatherings and family celebrations. She collaborates with clients and other design professionals to transform ordinary rooms into stunning spaces.
Jen is considered a “shortcut guru,” being a mother of four lively children who always aims to make each holiday—Christmas in particular—a special, memory-filled event. She does this while staying within a budget and balancing a full life.
How does she do it? With creative, affordable, quick-and-easy projects for the holidays and the home.
Jen was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us. Read on for a sneak peek at her design inspiration and decorating style.
How do you make holidays memorable for you and your family? Are there any Christmas items or decorations you and your family can’t do without?
It’s amazing how celebrating Christmas really is about creating an atmosphere of celebration, beauty, and warmth in the home. We started a handful of traditions when my kids were very young—they’re now 10, 9, and 7 (twins)—and they have become yearly events at home because the kids now associate Christmas with these traditions.
- We don’t watch Christmas movies or listen to Christmas music until Thanksgiving (a hard and fast rule at the Lutz house), but when Thanksgiving comes, it’s round-the-clock Christmas until New Year’s.
We want holiday movies and music to be special: similar to when I was a little girl—way back in the eighties. If you wanted to watch Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, you had to wait until that one day in December when one of the three major networks in the US aired it. It built anticipation and a sense of season.
We also introduced the kids to classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” as early as pre-school because we wanted them to love what we love and develop an appetite for the classics. It’s unbelievable to see my elementary school children tearing up when George Bailey returns home to his family or singing along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!
- Since I decorate Christmas trees for a living, I have my “work trees,” which have to look professionally decorated and beautiful for photographs, and I have a “kids’ tree.”
It’s really important to me that my kids have a tree on which they can string lights and hang all of the precious family ornaments, plus those they have crafted over the years. I let them decorate their tree the way they want and I don’t worry about ornament placement. As such, we average about three trees each year—mommy’s work trees and the kid/family tree!
- We love to follow the story of Mary and Joseph, the star, and the wise men as they travel to meet baby Jesus so Christmas is more than decorations and gifts at our house. Our advent calendar and daily Christmas book have become a part of that tradition—we read a page from scripture for the day, enjoy some candy, and then unwrap and read a Christmas book for each day on the advent calendar. As a bonus, we’ve added some beautiful books to our Christmas library over the years!
As for decorations that we can’t go without, I would say our Christmas stockings, garland for our fireplace mantels, family ornaments collected throughout the years, and our advent calendar.
What’s your go-to shop for décor and the materials you use for DIY projects?
Hobby Lobby and Michael’s are my top go-to shops, with Hobby Lobby coming in at first place. Hobby Lobby has amazing variety, from home decor to crafts, beautiful wrapping paper, and ribbon. Michael’s also has some lovely ribbon, and I often shop there to supplement what I don’t’ find at Hobby Lobby.
As for flea markets, I am learning that world. I actually live in an area full of flea markets and antique stores. I love following bloggers such as Miss Mustard Seed because she has great tutorials on thrifting and restoring old pieces of furniture. I tried my hand at chalk paint for the first time last year, and I enjoyed it. It’s amazing what treasures you can find and restore.
I also shop at stores such as Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, TJ Maxx, and World Market for inspiration. When I’m traveling, I love to go to local boutiques as well.
What is a “shortcut guru” in your own words? How did you become one?
When you have four children in a 38-month time span you have to become fast and efficient at everything. Ironically, before I had kids I would agonize over the smallest details. At this point in my life, I don’t have that luxury. I am inspired by beautiful home decor, event planning, and holidays, but if I want to bring that into my own home, I have to find ways to do it affordably and efficiently. Thus, I became a “shortcut guru.”
Which part of the house do you love decorating the most? Why?
Definitely our two fireplace mantels—it’s always a quick and affordable way to transform a room each season.
Who is your decorating inspiration and why? How does he/she influence your decorating style and habits?
This is a tough one. Honestly, my first decorating inspiration was Martha Stewart. When I was first married, over 17 years ago, my grandmother started sending me Martha Stewart Living magazines. I would pour over each edition and try out various “Good Things” and recipes, even though I had a very limited decorating budget.
Fast-forward to the age of the blogosphere, and my mind has been blown by all of the creative talent available at the click of a mouse. A handful of bloggers, to name just a few, who have taught and inspired me along the way are:
Young House Love. Even though they don’t blog very often anymore, their website is a virtual encyclopedia of DIY projects.
Holly Mathis. She also doesn’t post often, but I love her aesthetic—modern day meets traditional country.
Emily Henderson. Her voice and design aesthetic is so unique, honest, and refreshing. Her style is much more modern than I’m comfortable with, but she challenges me to think outside of my traditional box. I often say, if money were no object, I would hire her and Holly Mathis to decorate my house. I would love to see what those two minds would create.
Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper. I was much later to jump on this bandwagon. I watch very little TV (again, 4 kids, 38 months apart) so I don’t keep up with HGTV shows, but Netflix has changed that for me. I love Chip and Joanna! I mean, who doesn’t? They’re fun, talented, funny, and make home decor seem approachable for the average American. I also appreciate the way they’re putting Waco, TX on the map and revitalizing its community. Though I still can’t figure out how they get so much done with such a large family!
We can’t wait to see what Jen has in store for the blog. Stay tuned for her DIY and crafts projects and tips from the shortcut guru herself.