Thursday, March 8, 2012

Decorating A Large Space (On the Cheap)

I was recently blessed to be able to coordinate the decorations of our church's women's retreat along with two other girls.  We had so much fun transforming the giant lodge into something warm and welcoming.  Let me show you how it turned out...

Here's the lodge meeting room.  Yup, that whole building is one long, large lodge.  
Say that ten times fast.
This proved to be the biggest challenge- how to make an impact in such a vast space.

The outside is built like a log cabin- very rustic and warm.

We made burlap wreaths and borrowed the giant lanterns off of my front porch to welcome the ladies as they arrived.

There was a small entry way that housed a storage closet and the restrooms before opening up into the behemoth.


There she is. 

The fireplace was fabulous.  The palm tree sprouting tulips and sunflowers was not.

So we hung a couple of bunting banners and warmed it up with Christmas lights, along with some yarn balls and twiggy arrangements.  We wanted something that made a statement on the mantle.  I realized while perusing the Dollar Store one day that a foam core poster board would make a perfect canvas!  A Google search of 'tree silhouette' brought me this image which I sketched in pencil and then went over in sharpie.

To keep warmin' it up, we swagged Christmas lights in each window flanking the fireplace and lined all 8 window sills in the lodge with votives and saint candles.  You know, the tall skinny candles at Wally World or the Dollar Store that are meant for praying to saints?  Well they're cheap. 

More swagging.  The picture doesn't do the vibey-ness justice.  It was cozy in there!

For the speaker's podium, we did a large twiggy arrangement in a tall cylindrical glass vase with multi-sized candles pooled around it.  I wish I'd gotten pictures while the candles were lit but I was in a rush to get any pictures at all before guests arrived. 

That same Dollar Store trip I stumbled upon these and saw through the pastel paint to their true potential!

Moss covered trees!

To keep centerpieces low enough to look over and keep the 'Seasons of Life' retreat theme, we staggered two trees and three mason jar votives along each table.  The mason jars were wrapped in our retreat verses, Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1-8

A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I filled each jar 1/3 of the way up with sand and nestled a tea light down in there.

And this cardboard and twine bunting hung in the window over our snack table!

All of the materials used in this space were uber cheap.  Burlap sourced from a local nursery, cardboard from boxes in our garage, twine, candles, Christmas lights the church already had, posters, mason jars, yarn balls, and Dollar Store trees!  By using Christmas lights and candles in mass, we achieved a moody-cozy feel for very little investment.  All in all we spent less than $200!

I took it as personal attacks from the enemy that the week leading up to retreat was one of the craziest yet for our family.

Our water heater flooded almost every room of the house, requiring ServPro to make an emergency house call and install 12 giant fans and 6 giant de-humidifiers.  It felt and sounded precisely like a hurricane for three days.  Imagine a two year old trying to play around all these cords and scary-sounding fans.  Or me attempting to listen for the baby crying in the next room over when you can't even hear the thoughts in your own head! So a very sweet friend let us hang out pretty much the entire time our house was in upheaval. 

Other smaller things kept happening- like this.  What you are looking at is a bird's eye view of the explosive diaper Ella had while I nursed her in the front seat of the car.  It got all over her, my pants, and the car upholstery.  The kicker is, this happened twice within a few days!

But in the end, I pumped a whopping 42 ounces for little miss (a world record, I'm sure) and took off for a refreshing weekend in the woods.  I am so thankful I did!  The Lord brought so many women of all different stages of life together for a wonderful time of fellowship and fun!


  1. I'm so glad you put pics up of the retreat! I've been wondering how it turned out. It looked super fabulous!

  2. I understand your comment regarding personal attacks of "the enemy". Each time my co-leaders & I plan an event for our Women's ministry, issues arise. With God's Will, we prevail when it's all said & done; not for our glory, but His!