Picture rail what?

Happy 2023! Wow! I can’t believe another year has passed.  I’d love to announce all these amazing plans and challenges for the coming year, but the fact is friends, I got nothin’.  LOL.  And it sort of feels good.  I have many hopes for the coming year of possibilities but I think I’ve learned between being a freelance musician, a mom and surviving a pandemic that you can plan all you want, but STUFF happens.  So I’m going to take things as they come…and just strive to do better as often as I can. That said I miss writing weekly so I hope to get back to that. I have SOOOO many photos of things I’ve made in the past few years that I had the best intentions of sharing and just haven’t gotten around to it yet, so I’m going to try and work through what I find as I continue to clean up my digital files.

One project I get asked about EVERY year is how I hang this garland in our home for the holidays. 

I’m going to tell you it’s the easiest thing EVER! Especially if you’re as lucky as we are to live in an almost 100 year old home with these amazing picture rails.  You can read up a bit on picture rails on Bob Villa’s site or do a quick Google search.  We had no idea we even had picture rails when we bought our home 14 years ago, but discovered them and subsequently how AWESOME they are to have when we tackled the enormous task of stripping and staining our crown molding. I could tell you so much about this project, like the fact that I painted the living room 7 times after I finished the crown molding and how after 10 years I am ready to repaint this room again…but lets leave that that for a blog in the future.

Before on top and after on bottom.  I wish the before photo was better lit, but this was before
GOOD phone cameras! Remember when we had to use actual CAMERAS???

I spent so much time on this ladder, much of it upside down almost,
stripping, scraping and staining…totally worth it though!

When we started this project we just wanted the look of the classic wood but were perplexed by the bottom molding.  It’s a grooved molding  which made it “super fun” (that’s sarcasm) to strip, clean and stain.  We started reading up on the features of the home from this time period and learned that pictures rails were common to the time period, then we learned that you can still buy “picture rail hooks” and we were SOLD on the ease of use immediately! We bought about 30 of these rail hooks from House of Antique Hardware and have had a great experience with them.  We use them for everything on our walls, and I mean everything! And we’ve never had an issue.  We love the ease of being able to hang art and change it at will without destroying our beautiful plaster walls.  In addition to being able to use the hooks on the rails you can also use them on all the door headers in our home, which makes decorating for the holidays extremely easy. 

Now that we have a damage free way to hang, pretty much whatever we want on the walls and door frames we have to make a way to string up our pine boughs.  Years ago I grabbed some old coat hooks, looped the two ends and hooked them on the picture rails.  This worked fantastically but you could see the wire, and as we all know, in our house aesthetics are everything.  So I grabbed some wire edged ribbon and tacked the heavier duty wire to the inside right in the middle.  But then I got worried about the metal wire rubbing up against the beautiful wood work.  So I grabbed some old flannel and made a channel for the wire to go in between the pretty ribbon and the the flannel.  The flannel kept the wire from rubbing upon the wood.  And for years this has worked great, until this year when we finally decided to make the change from a “silver and blue” Christmas to a warmer and admittedly more tradition, “red and gold” color scheme.  So when I found this beautiful ribbon at JoAnn’s this holiday season I seized the opportunity to recreate our hangers and took pictures so I could share.

I love the red on red color scheme! It’s very Nordic and cozy.
Also that’s THE BEST pine candle you will ever own,
Roland Pine from Paper and Soap Factory.  
It lasts forever, is the best scent and burns clean!

Since I had the old ribbon hangers I used them to cut three new pieces of ribbon.  If you’re starting from scratch I’d measure from contact point to contact point (for us it’s from the top of the frame, under and back to the other side of the frame and add space for the actual garland and then maybe add some extra because you can always cut off any excess!

With the ribbon cut I then cut three strips of my lining fabric.  In this case it was some white fleece I had laying around.  It’s soft and thick so it would cushion the wire nicely.  The width is just under the width of the ribbon and the length is cut a few inches short intentionally.  You never want to see the lining, or metal wire when your garland is hanging and cutting the lining short allows for the wire to hang on the hook nicely and the ribbon to extend past and over.  

With the lining cut, I clipped and sewed down each side of the lining.

All attached!! You cannot see the stitching from the right side at all!

That’s it! The last step is to cut your ends! I choose to do a traditional ribbon cut…but you could just do one 45° angle.

The last step is to insert your metal wire! Make sure your ribbon ends extend past the connecting points.  And since there’s wire in the edge of the ribbon you can really manipulate those tails if you need to.


Easy peasy! This is so easy to hang up year after year.  We leave the lights on the garland but take off the colored bulbs.  Those are attached using ornament hooks and we are big fans of shatterproof ornaments.  Everything gets sort of flattened out and all the door/window garlands as well as our main tree (we have three!) goes in one box that is stored in the attic.  Look how charming it is all gussied up.  To attach the thinner garlands to the window and interior door frames we simply hang the wire of the boughs directly on the picture rail hooks, though if I am being honest sometimes it’s frustrating as the garland wire wants to “pop” off the rail hook.  That’s why this year I bought a ton of that beautiful red ribbon and plan to make similar hangers for the doors using the same method as I do between the living and dining rooms.

2022, red accents over all the windows, doors and in the tree…
btw this tree is fake and 22 years old this year.

I also thought it would be nice to show you the old swag color scheme vs the new one.  For over twenty years we decorated for the holidays using blues and silvers.  We loved it! But it didn’t feel right in this home and last year we decided we needed a change.  We love the new scheme! I think it’s because in this home we have stained trim everywhere, the silver and blue just read too cold…the red and gold really pop and feels warm and inviting to us.  But hey, now we have both color schemes so we can change it up whenever!

What are some of your easy, go to, home decorating hacks for the holidays?


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