We always have had a permanent Christmas room here at HiHo, but in the early spring of 2007 it was moved to the second floor. The renovations were a labor of love a combination of paid contractors, friends and family working very hard in a limited amount of time. I had a goal of finishing the room in time for HiHo’s two year celebration. All work was complete in five weeks time! To view more shots of the completed room just click hiho home.
I had been thinking of moving the room upstairs for over a year. Taking in ideas at trade shows, and accumulating furniture that could be used as fixtures. When I requested the large hutch to be painted silver I was asked at least a dozen times “are you sure?” I knew what the room was going to look like, I just had to convince everyone who was working on it, that I knew. Each time another piece was finished it became clear to others that I did have a plan. The first thing built into the room was the shelf for the train, built by Dan O’Connor. We were both amazed how the spacing for the windows in the hutch were a perfect fit for the shelf to continue around the room.
The candy cane counter was something I had wanted built for the room for a very long time, Dennis Alback ran with my idea and built the bases for the counter out of old doors. Keeping the counter in character with the rest of the shop.
Dennis also framed out the vintage holiday panels I had purchased a year earlier for the project. He made them so bulbs could be changed with ease. It took a number of trips to get the right light fixtures. It was a challenge but when it was finally lit, it was worth the trouble. The other day an antique dealer visiting the store mentioned she had sold the panels years ago, she was surprised to see them again.
Most of the walls we covered in paneling, the limited time factor played into that decision. We were not about to start removing layers of wallpaper. I had worked for a full month before the renovation began cutting, painting and designing the back drop scenes for the train layout. Like most things I tackle, I get really good at it just as I’m finishing it up. This was so true when it came to making the four foot sections of scenery, I had used every piece of Styrofoam we had received in shipping and was getting very good at carving snow caps when to my surprise it was done. I played with covering the seams and had the kids paint lolly pop trees after school. There were debates over scale and whether deer looked like they were flying or just falling off of cliffs. But it got done. The stage for Santa was an idea that came from the old department store set ups for the holidays. I wanted to create a magical place where children would remember visiting Santa for the first time the rest of their lives. The mantel I had painted for the former Christmas room fit perfectly between the window and the door…so that's where the stage had to go. Dan built the stage, I painted it and Aubrey pulled the tape. Like most things in the room, even putting the drape up over the stage was a team effort. My friend Bryan came by with tools in hand and helped complete the look, by installing the grid over the stage. He helped hang skis on the ceiling and was around when I was testing spraying snow flakes on the floor.
My friend Sue has been a champion for the Christmas room from the start, even pulling out the paint brush and priming the train shelf. Her encouragement was and is always is appreciated. She is a friend with ”don’t stop” enthusiasm, the one we all need to have in our lives.
My Richard, he always has my back and he put his time in on the Christmas room too. He shopped around for the right trains and spent hours putting track together. He answered calls to come over to the shop late in the evening to finish up jobs I had gotten in over my head on, always my hero. I am sure I’m forgetting all sort of things the kids did to help and the staff put up with dust, tools, noise and the drama that comes with any kind of renovation. All said and done everyday customers come down the stairs and comment on how amazing the room is. I think it’s amazing how many people helped to make a dream of mine come true. To see more pics of the finished Christmas room visit hihohome.com or just stop by.