Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › Amplified Apartments: Home Edition: The Winsome Christmastime Washington Retreat


Welcome to Amplified Apartments: Home Edition, a special edition of ForRent’s Amplified Apartments series, featuring amateur interior designers whose winning decor hacks will save you space whether you’re on the first or fifteenth floor.

Just over the border from Portland sits Camas, Washington. There Amplified Apartments: Home Edition has found its newest star amateur designer: Tracey Buxton, the blogger behind the blog Notes from a Cottage Industry. Enough experience has taught Buxton the ins and outs of subdued and cheerful holiday decor. Every year she transforms her home into a consummate Christmas retreat, but one recent iteration has stood out from the rest.

A cozy living room in a previous home set the stage for idyllic holiday-themed design. Working with 190 square feet, Buxton had to carefully avoid the easiest pitfall of Christmas decorating—going overboard and visually shrinking the space. Instead, she incorporated into her space a number of smaller pieces with personality—accents worth the square footage they took up. With vibrant ornaments and baubles strategically strewn about the room, Buxton’s already whimsical and charming décor was played up to enchanting effect in less than 200 square feet.

Passion for holiday decorating so often ends up with a home brimming in kitsch and gaudiness. Read on for Buxton’s advice for blunting Christmas decoration frenzy and creating a glittering, delightful and restrained home for the holidays.

If you could describe your living room design concept using 5 words what would they be?

Vintage traditional with funky junk.

What were your must-haves when designing your space? Did you have to make any compromises?

Historically, I have always had the same tow must-haves on my list. Fireplaces are always on the list. In my last home, as the pictures show, there was no fireplace, but the floor plan, rent, and location fit my needs so well. I had to compromise.


Are there any traditions you follow when you’re decorating for the holidays?
I am fairly traditional, but with a slight twist. I collect Santas, but limit them to ones I truly adore. It would be too easy to get carried away otherwise! I also love decorations with snowflakes, stars, and Christmas stockings. They always find their way into my holiday décor.


How do you keep decor fun without letting it overpower a space?
To keep my design versatile, I keep my large pieces—sofa, hutch, and dressers—neutral and add colors depending on the season or holidays. This changes the look and feel greatly without breaking the bank. With Christmas, the key is not overdoing it.

Skip the super cutesy Christmas decor. More often than not, it’s just too much. 

Where did you get the idea for a wall of mirrors and where did you find such a variety?
The home I lived in before this one had a huge wall in the living room, and it occurred to me that I could fill it with thrifted mirrors. Once I found and bought a collection’s worth, I picked my favorites and staggered them.

The luggage stand is a whimsical touch. Is that something you bought or made?

That is just an orderly stack of thrifted vintage suitcases. I love collecting them. They work so well as end tables and accent pieces! I have used them in this way for a decade, at least. I find the best ones at yard and estate sales.


What are your go-to stores for home furnishings and decor?

Thrift shops, Craigslist ads, and yard sales are my most favorite go-to spots. When I do shop retail, I like local antique stores. Camas Antiques is at the top of my list. The Dollar Store and Walmart can actually have some great finds, as well.

You have to look at the simplest knick-knacks with a creative eye.

Dollar store cotton hand towels make perfect cloth napkins, and a super affordable Pottery Barn wannabe beverage dispenser makes a fabulous and unique liquid laundry detergent dispenser.


What’s your number one tip for solving the small space problem?
In each room, you must try to have as many things as possible provide storage. Think outside the box. My stack of suitcases has become more than an end table.

In this case, two house old photos and one is filled with off-season tablecloths and napkins. The vintage one in front of the couch serves as a coffee table while also holding my Christmas decorations when they’re not in use. I’ve made sure all my trunks both add to the décor and store it.

Find more inspiration from Tracey Buxton’s blog, Notes from a Cottage Industry, here.

Want to share your space?
Email ForRent to feature your own Amplified Apartment or Home.
See your interior design creations on the ForRent blog!


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Hey, everybody! My name is Jason, and I contribute to this great blog, but when I'm not posting for ForRent.com, I like to play music with friends, cook, and travel as much as possible.


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