First of all, don't get discouraged. You are onto such a brilliant idea and you have it visualized so well it is bound to turn out well too. I, like so many of the rest of the people responding here, am very fascinated in your project. It sounds like such a nice idea.
My suggestions are first, as was suggested by another member already, I would let the colors of your background be determined by your ornaments... and thus, do most of the work each year after you are ready to document. Keep some of the elements the same every year though and that will tie the albums together.
Secondly, I recommend that you keep the 12 x 12 book. Afterall, the two layouts you really liked appear to be constructed in that size. If you have that many ornaments per page, the small amount of journaling could still fill your space up pretty fast. Plus, you might in the future, have a very lot to say about a certain ornament. You never know.
Thirdly, I might suggest for you annual journaling, that you purchase a clear stamp set and use that for your journaling template. Just stamp it on a separate sheet of cardstock and then cut it out in a square (or any other preferred shape) and attach it to your layout. Or you could purchase tags, stickers, or a small booklet of such pre-lined sheets. In any case, I would recommend keeping your journaling in handwriting. That way if one did break - or you wanted to add easily to the journaling in the future for any reason at all - the addition would be very easy to do. You would just need to remove your sheet protector and add your info... as opposed to redoing the whole thing with typed font. I have indicated examples of some of the products (as found in the Superstore) needed for any of these approaches. You might of course find other ideas as well.
Fourthly?, the layout you were admiring seems to feature chipboard stickers for its title. You could use those, or regular stickers, or even alpha rub ons for your title. Any of these would eliminate the "piece of text just glued on look" that seem to be trying to avoid.
Finally, I too have tried to show off a few of my ornaments in a layout. I made a very simple page.... not as elaborate as the ones you were admiring or planning but I like it OK. I didn't journal... not that kind of LO, but it does feature a sticker title and handwriting in a very simple form.
Dated Ornaments 1 By KatieJo
Good luck. Really sounds like a great project!!!!