Tips on decorating for the holidays
By Adrienne McGee Sterrett
While Ashley Etzkorn will gladly serve every customer with every need, it’s at Christmas when she and her shop come into their own.
Traditional fresh and silk flower arrangements and memorial gifts are available year round, of course, but by late fall, the sales floor is given over to Christmas trees decorated in a variety of styles, mantels filled carefully to near overflowing, knick-knacks offered for seasonal touches and wreaths just waiting to bedeck your halls.
Etzkorn, owner of Ivy Hutch Flowers and Gifts in Delphos, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“No one’s sad when they’re shopping for décor,” she said “It just seems like everyone’s always excited at Christmas.”
She enjoys the hustle-bustle of the season, even enjoying blasting Christmas music while she’s decorating the shop after hours.
“I love the atmosphere. Who doesn’t love the music playing and the snow outside?” she said, grinning. “The anticipation. Isn’t that what Christmas is?”
Etzkorn, 27, has a degree in event planning and tourism. She embarked on her journey believing wedding planning was her goal, but that was revised to floral arranging for weddings and other occasions.
After the commute to her work at a Findlay flower shop became draining, the Delphos native started shadowing, then working for, Sue Shrider, the former owner of Ivy Hutch, at its old location on the south side of town. She learned there for two years, and took the opportunity to buy the business from Shrider in 2012. That same year, Etzkorn moved the shop to its current location.
She bought the store in October and married her high-school sweetheart, Aaron, the following April.
Her intuitive husband has given her a red and silver ornament for Christmas for each of their almost-10 years together — in addition to becoming familiar with masonry bits while helping the business with exterior decorating at clients’ homes.
Etzkorn’s decorating tips:
Find what you love
The first thing Etzkorn does to help a customer is take him or her to the wall of silk picks/branches. Cubbies divide each by type, with some branches heavily glittered to others matte and rustic. What is that person drawn to and do they reach for? That first selection tells Etzkorn a lot about the customer’s style and preferences. It’s a good starting point.
It also helps Etzkorn see the preference. One person’s “rustic” could be another person’s “country,” which could also be described as “farmhouse table.” They’re each a little different.
Mix and match
Don’t be afraid to mix unusual things.
One Christmas tree displayed at the store looks traditional at first glance — red and green ornaments — but a second look shows smaller teal ornaments sprinkled throughout.
Another tree has ribbon as a main feature — and there are two kinds of ribbon in two different patterns.
Pattern-shy people, attention: Etzkorn has to force herself to combine things, too. She simply puts ribbons next to each other, one after another, to find striking pairings she wouldn’t have originally made.
“I just feel like people get hung up with trying to coordinate it so much,” she said.
Where is the room’s focal point? What does the room need? Those are the first questions Etzkorn asks herself when decorating a client’s space.
If there is a mantel, that is the focal point and you should start there. She also thinks decorating a mantel is the most difficult job because there are so many options.
No mantel? Go with a big tree to make a big statement. Or, play up your sofa table. That surface almost becomes a mantel-like display area.
Shine your light
Is it too showy? Probably not.
“It’s the one time of year that you can get away with glitter, truthfully, and a little bit of gaudiness,” Etzkorn said. The trend seems to be leaning toward “a little bit overdone.”
One of the trees in the shop was decorated in shimmer-tipped pinecones the length of your hand. Balanced with a muted color scheme, the effect was glamorous instead of jarring.
But if you like unbridled joy, go for it. A mantel made by her grandfather showed off bright, shiny, glittered baubles.
“This is how I do my house,” Etzkorn said, gesturing toward the mantel, “gaudy glittery.”
Still unsure? Try pearl effects. Etzkorn paired pearlized items with simple items with great results.
Less stuffy, more simple
Unarranged is definitely a trend, she said. An iridescent-glazed pitcher on the shop’s display dining room table was filled with silk flowers — but loosely.
This looks like you just bundled it in your hands and dropped it in the vase. The tightly controlled, fussy look is more formal and will always be around — but unarranged has its beauty, too.
Compromising with your mate
Etzkorn’s husband is a Dallas Cowboys fan, and, thus, he has Cowboys ornaments. The Etzkorns just bought a house, so there will be two trees, she said plainly.
Her parents still disagree over tree décor, she said. Her father loves big, old lights and old ornaments. Her mother likes a “pretty” tree.
“My mom has a pretty tree up somewhere else,” she said.
If you don’t have room for two trees? One idea is to use only the color scheme of the favorite team. The Cowboys’ silver and blue would work well for Christmas, and others not so much. (Ohio teams? Hmm.) Perhaps it’s just best to put the team ornaments on the tree and reach a truce.
Mind your budget
Christmas décor can get pricey, but there are some shortcuts. Etzkorn suggested buying a premade plain wreath of quality and shape you like. Buy ribbon and décor separately so it can be swapped out when you tire of it.
Similarly, she suggested investing in a good, plain tree. Add picks to dress it up. Just insert them at intervals around the tree, wiring in if needed. That way, you can add flocked picks and discard them when they yellow (and they will, she said), and go to red berries or whatever you’d like down the road.
“Do it yourself is really popular right now,” she said. “We just have things to help people along.”
Ashley Etzkorn offers decorating services, both indoor and outdoor, private and corporate. Last year, she worked with Mechell Broadwater of Copper Shell Interiors to decorate Husky Lima Refinery and planned to do that again this year. Her labor is billed hourly, with jobs ranging from doing a ribbon tree-topper (and leaving the rest of the tree to the client) to decorating an entire living room. She enjoys incorporating clients’ items into new designs. Call the shop for details.
Ivy Hutch Flowers and Gifts
Where: 666 Elida Ave., Delphos
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays