Sharing the decorative floral and twig wreath I made as a housewarming gift for my eldest son.
We’ve just returned from helping him with a big move.
After many years living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, R decided it was time to move out of NYC. He relocated across the river to charming Hoboken, New Jersey.
Both he and his girlfriend will continue working in Times Square and One World Trade Center (formerly the Freedom Tower). R returned to work full-time at his company’s headquarters back in May. While V is still working a hybrid model; going into the office a couple of days each week.
So as to not spoil the housewarming gift surprise, I’ve had to keep their twig wreath under wraps.
Suitable to display throughout the fall season — September through Thanksgiving — it’s different than any wreath I’ve ever made before, with a modern vibe and sculptural style.
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Styling a Decorative Wreath as a Gift
This is the third fall wreath I’ve made this year as gifts; including the DIY Grapevine Cornucopia Wreath made for my SIL.
But, making a wreath for my adult son’s new place, caused me a little bit of anxiety. I knew he’d appreciate the gift, but I really wanted him to love it!
Like the Wine Cork Wreath I made last year, when youngest son moved into his 100-year-old row house in Philadelphia.
The very last thing I wanted was to clutter up the sleek look of R’s modern apartment. So, as I worked to turn my vision into a finished wreath, I enlisted hubby for his opinion multiple times.
And, I stressed this wasn’t about hurting my feelings, but rather about creating something he knew our son would like.
It turned out, that I was the much harsher critic!
Here’s the finished twig wreath temporarily hanging on the white door in my kitchen, right after I finished making it. Opps —it’s hanging a bit off-kilter I see now, lol! I was rushing to take photos of the wreath before packing it up for the drive to New York City.
What do you think?
Crafting Something Different
A couple months ago, I made the DIY Dollar Tree Pumpkin Truck Fall Wreath as a housewarming gift for my cousin.
I knew the country farmhouse look was not the right vibe for my son’s sense of style, or modern, sleek new abode.
Besides, the holiday wreath I made him several years ago also featured a truck in, Bringing Home the Christmas Tree DIY Wreath.
He still has the holiday wreath, which is a mix of faux evergreen branches, transparent snow dusted mesh, and ribbon. For embellishment, I added fun winter season ornaments depicting skis, sleds, snowflakes and red mittens.
Rather than craft a deco mesh and ribbon wreath as I usually do, I wanted something more sophisticated and sculptural looking for the fall season. Especially since he might want to actually hang it in his entry hall, rather than on the front door.
For R’s first season with the rooftop terrace, I crafted a Smooth Sailing Wreath Flying Red, White and Blue Colors. It featured a large wood and canvas sailboat, with a color scheme appropriate to hang from Memorial to Labor Day.
That’s when I spotted a realistic looking, but faux twig wreath. I was at that party for my cousin when I spotted it. Auntie D, my namesake, pointed me to Hobby Lobby to find one as the base for this project.
Working With a Twig Wreath
What follows isn’t a step-by-step tutorial to create a fall floral and twig wreath. That’s because it’s more like styling a flower arrangement than following a craft process. What I can share are the materials used, along with some illustrative photo’s and helpful tips.
And although the twig wreath I styled used fall florals, the same basic approach would also apply to styling spring, summer and even winter seasonal decor.
- Twig wreath
- Assorted large & small fall florals
- Assorted fall leaf, pinecone and acorn sprays & picks
- Pheasant or other feathers
- Accent bird
- Spool of 2 1/2 inch wide ribbon
- Spool of narrow ribbon
- Chenille pipe cleaners
You’ll also need a pair of clippers, scissors, ruler, and glue gun with sticks.
You could certainly purchase or craft a real twig wreath as your base. Problem is the sticks can be brittle and break — especially over time. They also aren’t as flexible to bend and shape into place. Instead, I used a realistic alternative (Hobby Lobby). Could you tell it’s made of dark brown plastic over wire? Even up close, I can’t tell!
Prep Flowers & Leaf Sprays
What this twig wreath isn’t, is a bargain Dollar Tree project. As a gift for my son, I invested in high quality florals and fall picks. However, most of the materials were on sale from either Hobby Lobby (30% off) or Michaels (40% off). The twig base was not, but obviously a had-to-have!
Craft Tip: Before you remove tags, separate clusters or clip off stems, be sure you are going to use all of the florals and picks you initially purchased. And save your receipts in case you have more than you need or want to return anything. I tend to buy more than I think I’ll need. Although, in this rare case, I had exactly the amount and type of materials for the look I wanted.
The types and amounts of florals, picks and stems I purchased was based on a vision I had in my head, along with the size of the twig wreath base.
Pictured above are the smaller picks used in the project. Not shown is the small quail figure I already had in my craft stash. The acorn and floral sprays were each separated into three to five smaller pieces,
By clipping off a foot or two of green stem, larger impact florals and leaf sprays were reduced to a more manageable size.
That made it a lot easier to arrange and incorporate them into the twig wreath base. Don’t you love the gorgeous fall colors?
Prearrange Materials on Twig Wreath
Next, I played with positioning of the twig wreath to determine how it would be hung. I typically use the white interior door in my kitchen as a sorta easel. Once determining where the top center of the wreath should be, I then made a hanger out of dark brown, chenille pipe cleaner. See the orange arrow below.
More pipe cleaners were used to loosely attach four lengths of fall branches to the twig base. For a temporary placement, just twist the pipe cleaners once. See yellow circles above.
Craft Tip: When attaching sprays to a twig wreath, always follow the direction of it’s branches. The same holds true when working with a denser grapevine wreath.
Now move the wreath to a roomy and well-lit work surface, with all you materials in easy reach.
Start by placing the largest elements in place. That means not just the longest pieces, but those with the most mass. For instance, that meant me determining where the single hydrangea flower and pumpkin spray would go.
After you’ve styled a basic arrangement, set the grouped elements to one side.
Attach Florals to Base
Okay, here is were the project is more challenging and time-consuming. You are going to be working in sections of the twig wreath, but in layers. Start by attaching the bottom layer, or one closest to the twigs first. This tends to be the longer pieces, like those I showed you when I determined where the wreath hanger would go.
To do this, you’ll need to carefully flip the wreath from front to back on the work surface. From the backside, use pipe cleaners to twist the thick portion of flower and leaf stems to the twig base. Only twist once or twice to secure in place, as you’ll likely want to slip another smaller stem in later.
Craft Tip: I already had a couple of packages of pipe cleaners on hand. But, if purchasing new, I recommend dark brown chenille for best camouflage.
For my twig wreath design, I had basically two sections — the upper right and lower left hand. That required numerous flipping of the wreath from front to the back side to properly position materials. Several times in between, I’d hang the wreath back on the door. That provided a better perspective of how the twig wreath would look hanging, rather than how it appeared lying flat on the table.
Make & Attach Bow
For my design, I needed a large bow to counterbalance the lower left section of the decorated twig wreath. Before I could add the smaller accent florals and leaves, I needed to position the bow and attach it.
I used a standard two-ribbon technique to make the bow — even though the narrow ribbon is not wired. Both the burnt orange, buffalo print and leaf print ribbons were new spools. To make the bow, I left one-foot length tails and formed five-inch loops. A yard of leftover orange gingham, half-inch wide ribbon was added at the end.
It was a big handful of twisted ribbon to handle and secure with pipe cleaner. But I was able to manage while watching my alma matter in a nail bitter football game! The bigger challenge was “assistance” from our Scottie, Whiskey, who kept trying to get into my lap and play with the lengths of ribbons lol!
At that point, I left the twig wreath hanging on the kitchen door overnight — so I could watch the end of the game! After looking at it for awhile, I decided the feathers on top were too far to the left and needed moved towards the center.
Then I incorporated the smaller floral elements to fan across the top of the twig wreath or trail under the bow.
A few small flowers and acorn sprays were also incorporated to the bottom of the wreath. Finally, the small bird was put in place.
Finally, I carefully flipped over the wreath and added or twisted pipe cleaner to secure elements from the back. From the front side, a few loose leaves and pieces of ribbon were hot glued in place.
All that was left to do was shape a few twigs or leaves, and poof the ribbon loops.
To take the wreath from Pittsburgh to NYC, and then to it’s new home in Hoboken, I laid it on a sheet of white foam board (Dollar Tree). Then, I covered the entire thing in a large plastic bag. That kept the twig wreath flat and protected it in the trunk of our car.
Rooftop Bachelor Pad
Spurring our son’s move were the challenges of urban living during a pandemic, continual high maintenance and repair issues of an over 100-year-old building, and the desire for more living space and amenities.
R gave up a little gem of a rooftop penthouse, with a wrap-around terrace and fireplace.
But it had half as much interior space as outdoor! Great as a bachelor pad, not so much for a couple.
For one thing, the kitchen lacked an island, bar or any space to add even a little cafe table for dining. Pretty as it looked, the kitchen was only equipped with a two-burner cooktop and convection microwave, and lacked an oven! In it’s place was an inefficient, odd dual washer/dryer unit under the kitchen counter.
Have you ever heard or seen such a thing?
No wonder many New Yorkers eat out all the time, and send their clothing out to be laundered!
If you’re thinking these penthouse pictures were staged by real estate professionals, you’d be mistaken! That’s all my son’s styling. Didn’t he do a fabulous job with furnishing and decorating his place?
And, R did it economically, by mostly shopping online for deals, or purchasing floor models from stores in Manhattan. I like to think he takes after his momma, lol!
The condo was the feature of the week in a NYC real estate guide. That led to a rush of applicants before the unit was even available for viewing.
The couple who rented the apartment were so taken with R’s furnishings and decor, they wanted to buy almost everything! Fortunately, that included the outdoor furnishings, which he longer would have use for. He also elected to sell the larger pieces of living room furniture and TV. However, R decided to keep the rugs, wall hangings, lamps and decor, along with all the bedroom furniture.
Although the four of us spent two full days packing and cleaning, R hired professional movers to carry and transport it all.
On the Move
For years, R’s place was were friends gathered for weekly Sunday Suppers, game nights and other celebrations. But then the pandemic hit, and most New Yorkers had to shelter in place and work from home. Many of his friends — couples, some with newborns — moved out of the city permanently.
And, then there were the ongoing building issues that severely impacted his rooftop unit. Last Columbus Day, a huge water pipe burst on the roof over his condo. That was third major ordeal R experienced living in the penthouse. While remediation took place, they moved in with us in Pittsburgh. But the repairs revealed much more serious issues with the 100-year old roof itself — it needed completely replaced!
That necessitated R and V having to move out for three months between January and April. Since they were both still working from home full-time, in lieu of rent, R found monthly rentals in Steamboat, CO, New Orleans, LA, and Nashville, TN. A luxury log cabin in the wood, historic Garden District home with a pool, and a riverfront townhouse, all provided substantial more living space than the penthouse back in NYC.
His new home in Hoboken is in a brand new building, a block from the riverfront park. The top-floor condo features lux finishes and features throughout. That includes a gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances (an oven and five-burner gas cooktop), master suite with walk-in closet and spa-like bathroom, and even a long-desired, full-size washer and dryer! There’s also a view of Manhattan and the Empire State Building, rooftop pool, gym, and lots of other building amenities.
For commuting back into NYC for work or play, is either the building’s complimentary door-to-door shuttle to the train, or a short walk to the ferry.
There’s also a second bedroom and bath — perfect for dual use as an office and place for his Peloton bike. Better yet, it can accommodate visits from family and friends —like his parents!
Hoboken looks absolutely charming and we can’t wait to explore on an upcoming visit. Plus, it’s only an hour and half drive to Philadelphia where our younger son lives. That makes it easier to visit both our guys on one trip.
We Have a Winner!
Congratulations to new subscriber, Georgianne Brennan of Davenport, Florida! She’s the lucky winner of the five Marble Pumpkins for Fall & Table Decor, featured in the recent Gone Batty: Black, White & Purple Halloween Table.
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