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Arlyn Hernandez

Design writer and stylist Arlyn Hernandez lives in a classic 100-year-old apartment building, which has made her rethink how she approaches nearly everything. That includes organization and decorating for the holidays. 

“There’s literally no storage,” Hernandez says. “I needed to create it, and a credenza was the best way.”

She designed a credenza that runs the length of the apartment by combining IKEA’s three-door and two-door Besta media units. The standard sleek white IKEA doors were too modern, but Hernandez liked the warmth of Semihandmade’s Desert Grey beaded doors designed by Sarah Sherman Samuel. “It’s a warm putty and it’s wonderful because gray can feel a little cold and sterile sometimes, but it has just the right amount of warmth,” she says.

Ordering was a breeze. She went to the Semihandmade site and ordered media fronts for the large Besta cabinet. “I took the existing doors off and I had to screw it in but everything was fine,” Hernandez says. The credenza holds everything from board games to books to small appliances, and the top is perfect for a holiday tablescape. We sat down with her to get her five easy tips for bringing the charm of the holidays to a small space. 

Start Small

“You see so many beautiful things on Instagram and you put so much pressure on yourself to go buy everything,” Hernandez says. “Don’t be afraid to start small and add over the years.” Invest in quality holiday decor and build your collection over time.

Deck the Halls

Hernandez uses a quality faux garland as the basis for her holiday decorations. To make it a bit more realistic, she tucks a few sprigs of round leaf eucalyptus to the garland. Garland works on credenzas and buffets, mantels, staircases, and across dining tables. “It doesn’t have to be everywhere,” Hernandez says. “A little goes a long way.” 

Use Seasonal Fruit

“I would never underestimate the charm of seasonal fruit as decor,” Hernandez says. Next time you’re at the grocery store or farmers market, pick out some shiny red pomegranates, tangerines or kumquats with the greenery attached, walnuts or dried orange slices. They’ll all pop against deep green pine branches or faux garland.

Keep It Neutral and Natural

As much as Hernandez loves collected holiday ornaments and decorations, they can start to look a bit too colorful. ”Anything that’s the base of your decor, keep it neutral so it doesn’t look like a garage sale,”she says. Wood or jute decorations like bottle brush trees, snow globes, and little white ceramic houses with white lights will look classic and chic with greenery. 

Don’t Forget the Windows

Apartment dwellers miss out on the joys of decorating the front lawn and outdoor trees but Hernandez goes all in on decorating indoors, including the windows. She uses a bit of ribbon to suspend wreaths from the curtain rod. “Wreaths over a window are so charming and beautiful,” says Hernandez. “It totally changes the space and turns it into a wonderland.”


We are no strangers to DIY home renovations at Semihandmade. After all, that’s where the idea for making doors for IKEA kitchen systems came from. So naturally, we had to dedicate an entire section of SemiStories to celebrating our design community’s ingenuity, from DIY kitchen ideas to thinking of smaller details like rattan glassware and easy-to-make wall hangings. Don’t just take it from us: we’ve tapped the best in the business. Anita Yokota shared her best trick for a $20 bathroom renovation, Jessica D’Itri Marés shared her favorite spray painter, and Jenna LeBlanc showed us how to give wall-to-wall storage a custom touch. Maybe you’re just dipping your toes in the world of do-it-yourself, in which case we recommend starting small: try your hand at making your own speckled candle holders, for example, or give your greenery an updated home with pretty stacked planters. If you have a handy side (maybe you’ve put together DIY kitchen cabinets or are not afraid to use a power tool), we have projects for you too: painting a hand-painted mural is a fun way to give your favorite room some life or maybe you’re game to try putting together your own TV cabinet like Sarah Sherman Samuel did (PS: she saved thousands in the process). Experts, we’ve got you covered too: from learning to tile and grout your own backsplash to painting your cabinets without a hitch, we have plenty of DIY kitchen renovation ideas to keep you busy. We don’t stop at the kitchen either: from wall-to-wall media centers to fluted doors made for playroom storage, you’ll find ideas to improve every room in the house