Simple Christmas Decor Ideas from Lifestyle Maven Katie Brown

Katie Brown shares simple Christmas decor strategies from her Connecticut home.

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Christmas in Connecticut


When Katie Brown and her husband, William Corbin, bought their 19th-century Colonial five years ago, she knew they'd found the perfect place for big holiday gatherings. "It's so quirky," she says. "I love the airy rooms and meandering floor plan." The house reminded Katie of her grandfather's cabin on a lake in upper Michigan, where she grew up. "I've always wanted that same rustic been-there-forever look." So Katie, editor in chief of Yahoo Makers and founder of Katie Brown Workshop, decorated with rehabbed castoffs and treasures scavenged from flea markets. Once December rolls around, she gives her eclectic home a simple Christmas decor boost with bundles of backyard greens and woodland accents. "I'm inspired by natural beauty," she says. "I like to bring the outdoors in." Throughout the season, family traditions also play a role. The annual highlight for the couple's two daughters, Meredith and Prentiss, is a trip to the local tree farm in search of the perfect blue spruce. Advent calendars and ornaments handcrafted by Katie and the girls end up adorning tabletops and counters. "On Christmas day we wear matching PJs and eat sloppy Joe casserole," says Katie. "It's the simple things that make Christmas meaningful."

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Festive Touches


"Every year I pull out my handmade stockings and the girls string popcorn and cranberry garlands for the tree," Katie says. On the mantel, glass vases filled with gold-painted walnuts hold bouquets of red berries. Pinecone trees add a natural touch, while homemade paper snowflakes brighten the windows.


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Kitchen Magic


"The kitchen is Christmas central," says Katie, "where we bake cookies for the grandparents and, of course, Santa." Tiny trees line the window sill, and a wreath made from silver ball ornaments surrounds a dessert stand.

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It's a Wrap


A break-the-rules decorator, Katie painted the walls red and the ceiling lavender in the downstairs room where she likes to wrap packages. "I lived with neutral palettes for so long that I wanted hot colors here," says Katie.

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Katie's Recipes


Now that you know how to decorate like Katie, here's how to cook like she does.

Cinnamon Bread

Christmas was not Christmas at our house unless we smelled cinnamon bread baking. Sometimes it was what we gave away to our neighbors as a merry, merry gift. Sometimes it was something we would bring to a holiday party as a hostess gift. Sometimes it was something we would bring to school as a teacher's season's greetings token. It was almost always what my mother would wake up early to bake before the first gift was opened, for us to slice and enjoy as our Christmas morning celebration began. My mother got the recipe from my aunt Ruth, who was one of the BEST people I have ever known. Just like my lovely aunt, this recipe is the best of the best. Bake it, slice it, make it part of your holiday tradition, and I promise you will be merry. It does not get better than this, so heat the oven to 350º and enjoy!

See the recipe here.

Holiday Cider

This is one of our most popular recipes at the Katie Brown Workshop. Not only does it taste great, but it makes your whole house smell fantastic!

See the recipe here.