Let me introduce Jen! A blogger, designer, wife, and mother, Jen is committed to her family, friends, and to helping people make their home their own and feel good about it. Her blog JenniferRizzo.com is full of wonderful DIY projects and ideas that are resourceful, unique, and that bring a wonderful look to your home.
A friend of mine, who is a follower of her famous blog JenniferRizzo.com, had seen a post wherein Jen was asking me some questions about Balsam Hill. Naturally, I was very excited to tell Jen, who also happens to be a friend of mine, about it.
It was such a delight to interview Jen! I asked her three sets of questions. The first set was about how she got started and how blogging had changed her life over the years. The second set delved into her decorating style and how that translates into holiday style, as well as her must-have Christmas decorations, if any. The last set was about the Balsam Hill tree she had chosen and why she had chosen that particular one. It’s fascinating to understand why people select a certain type of tree. The following is a written version of my phone interview with Jen.
BH: Why did you start blogging? How has blogging changed your life?
Jen: Blogging started out as way for me to connect with other creative people. I’d also always dreamed I would write a book or write for magazines. I’ve been blogging for over seven years now (when I first started there were only maybe 30 bloggers in the home décor space), and I’d always had that dream in the back of my head. Blogging just lead me closer and closer to what I originally wanted to do. I wrote for a small newspaper, and then magazines picked me up, and then a publisher contacted me to write a book—my dream came true. Starting out, they were unattainable, and then they happened.
BH: Tell me about your book. How did that come about?
Jen: It’s interesting because when they came to talk to me about writing a book, they saw me through the housewalk and my blog, and they said, “Why don’t you write a holiday book?” I said that would be great. Originally, the book was laid out to present a section on projects, and then a house tour, another section on projects, then another house tour, and so forth. It’s actually funny how the book kind of wrote itself, in a way. As the writing progressed, it’s like the book told me in what direction to go. It just became so apparent to me, that when it was done, I knew the layout needed to change. All the projects would have to be presented together first, and then the houses would come after. For me, the natural progression while writing the book was to work my way from the outside in. In the end, I believe it was divine intervention that led me to the right path.
BH: I understand that this year’s housewalk is your fourth. How did that come to be?
Jen: The town next to us has a local housewalk run by the Garden Club. It’s a day-long event where you go to about five different homes that have been decked out for the holidays. After I attended one of the housewalks about five years ago, I thought that it would be a cool thing to do online, for the benefit of those who don’t have one in their own neighborhoods. Plus, this would be free. A housewalk definitely costs money, but since it will be done online, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’m a big believer of non-competition, in that I like to support other artists and bloggers. I think we can all work together because there’s enough room for all of us in the digital world. Working with other bloggers in the housewalks has lifted us all up, helping to promote a spirit of camaraderie. The housewalk has now blown into something big to which everyone looks forward every year. Plus, the bloggers and I have a really good time doing it.
BH: The phrase “making your home your own” is fascinating. When it comes to interior design, I constantly tell people to trust themselves and go with what they like, and then help them put together a concept or design. Is this similar to what you’re saying? Can you tell us a bit more about your tagline?
Jen: Yes, it is. I feel like people get weighed down trying to make their homes look perfect or look like something else. I think that your home decor should revolve around two main things: first, your family’s needs, and second, being who you are. I want to show people how to do projects that they can customize for their own home, in their own way. What I like most about the housewalk is the fact that you have 30 bloggers who decorate and display their homes differently. Ultimately, I want to tell people, “Your style matters.” You don’t have to follow rules you see from magazines, Pinterest, or anything else. You can do whatever you want with your home, and it will still be amazing.
BH: How would you describe your holiday decorating style? Are you more inclined to stick with the classics or do you like to experiment?
Jen: My decorating style can be referred to as something like “bohemia eclectic cottage.” I do like to mix all kinds of styles. I tend to go with earthy, neutral tones because I like natural, botanical things, but I like to mix textures and colors. I love elements of nature, botanical imagery, and vintage botanical imagery because their color palette personifies me. I’m fine with having a modern chair right next to a French chair. I experiment, but I’m not afraid to incorporate classic elements into my designs.
BH: What is your must-have ornament or piece of Christmas decor, and why?
Jen: This year, I’m particularly fond of my mercury glass ornaments because it gives off a nice sparkle without being over the top. I have them in candlesticks of different heights. It’s funny because I got them at the thrift store for almost nothing. I like how the ornaments add different colors and textures.
BH: Do personal memories play a significant part in how you decorate for the holidays? Would you mind sharing a little bit about a holiday memory that left a great impression on you?
Jen: The biggest thing that left an impression on me was going to the city, down into my aunt’s basement, and seeing all the families cramped into that small space. Nobody was complaining. Everyone was enjoying that warm feeling of being together, which is definitely what the holidays are all about. Everyone brought food and ate together while the kids played with each other; it was something that you didn’t see any other time of the year. That memory was what stuck with me while I was raising my kids. Our family has inevitably splintered off because the children grew up and started having families of their own. However, I still host a gathering of all cousins at home every year on the 26th of December. We have a small, humble home, but none of my cousins complain even if they’re cramped in a small space. It’s like reliving that memory in my aunt’s basement, and it feels great.
BH: What was your thinking process when you chose your Balsam Hill tree? Did you have a specific type of tree in mind beforehand, or did the tree you ended up choosing just strike your fancy?
Jen: Our main family room is a bit cramped so I love how the Revelstoke Fir is very slim. I was able to fit the tree in the little corner between the full mantel and the TV. It’s something on which the kids can put all of their ornaments. I wanted finish decorating the Revelstoke for the housewalk, but I decided I can just spend time with the kids while they decorated it with their ornaments. The kids have their colorful houses and stuff, and they play with them, too. They’ll put their little Barbies in these houses and hang them on the tree, but the tree is for them so they can go to town with it.
BH: What do you like most about your Balsam Hill tree? How do you plan to decorate your tree?
Jen: I knew I wanted a tree in the family room, but I couldn’t find one that was skinny enough. When I saw the Revelstoke, I thought, “That’s perfect for that space.” The small little corner looked bare before, but now there’s a nice little tree there. The Revelstoke was the perfect tree for that space because it gives you the sense of a full tree. The branches are also thick enough, allowing you to hang traditional ornaments on it without weighing the tree down. It’s the perfect tree for smaller spaces.
BH: What can we look forward to on your blog this holiday season? Do you have exciting new holiday decor or party ideas?
Jen: Aside from my book coming out, I’m really excited about having a line of my holiday specials come out through a real design studio. I wanted to make it so people can personalize their home décor, and in the design studio we were able to do that. We were able to make stencils that were the perfect size to put in pillows, tablecloth, table runners, garlands, and things like that.
Jen is also hosting a giveaway on her blog so you should all stay tuned for that. One grand prize winner will win a Balsam Hill tree of his or her choice, while one 2nd place winner will win a $300 Balsam Hill gift card. For 3rd place, 10 winners will each receive a $100 Balsam Hill gift card. All readers of JenniferRizzo.com also get an exclusive Balsam Hill discount of $25 off from any purchase amounting to $250 and above.
A roundup of all the trees featured in The 12 Bloggers of Christmas campaign will be done after the giveaway, plus a feature on the grand prize winner. There’s a lot to be excited about this Christmas! Stay tuned to the Balsam Hill blog and JenniferRizzo.com for updates.