I usually don’t think about decorating for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving…but when your client calls you in August with an offer you can’t refuse, I was willing to break tradition.
“Alexa, they want my house to be on the holiday house tour this fall for the Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit and I told them I would only do it if you, my designer, can decorate for me for the holidays!”
At that point I said,
“Sure, but only if my floral designer/production bestie Rebecca Merritt from R Merritt Productions can do it with us.”
When I called Rebecca with the offer, she immediately accepted.
“Sure, I’ve always wanted to decorate for Christmas! This is the perfect excuse!” (Rebecca is 100% Jewish).
And with that, we were off to the races…
My goal on this project was to create holiday décor that year after year, my client could replicate. Rebecca and I, after a long walk through a local wholesaler, were overwhelmed with inspiration. We decided to go “high-end fake” on all the greenery so that the client could pull it out every year and recreate our design. Rebecca had previously worked on a wedding with a bride who was allergic to flowers and had sourced a paper flower artist who makes the most amazing faux floral. We decided to source a few dozen faux roses to insert along the stairwell garland. It proved to be a great choice. The visitors who toured the house commented on them non-stop and couldn’t believe they weren’t real! While they weren’t cheap, the client can dig them out this year and for years to come!
I always like to incorporate people’s personal memories & tchotchkes, whether it’s styling a bookshelf or decorating for the holidays. This project was no different. When I asked my client to pull out her holiday bins, she giggled and was slightly embarrassed when she said “Bin? You mean four storage closets!” It was like taking a spin through a holiday shop! We collectively decided that the main part of the tour (entry, formal living room, kitchen, dining room) should be “elegant holiday” and match the grandeur and feel of her gorgeous home. We then dedicated the family room and kids’ homework room (Homeschool Central) for more of a Santa’s workshop feel, as if the kids decorated it themselves, or Santa’s elves were fast at work behind the scenes.
THREE TAKEAWAYS from this project that can apply to any home styling:
- Buy things in pairs or trios (holiday candle sticks, fun fuzzy trees, the more the better!) When you go back to the store to find Mrs Claus for Mr Claus, she might be sold out and you are left with a lonely Santa.
- Keep your color palate consistent throughout the house. We used red and green for this project because it was the prominent color theme of my clients existing decorations as well as a beautiful compliment to the blues and greys of her year round furniture and décor that I had designed in years prior.
- Do not attempt this at home: Live floral. This mantle was designed and installed by a profession – Rebecca Merritt Productions. The amount of behind the scenes rigging is not to be believed. The reason it looks so gorgeous is because a floral professional installed this. That said, the holidays are the perfect time to treat yourself to a gorgeous centerpiece or to hire someone to do a similar version of something spectacular.
Read about AHR Design’s A Very Floral Christmas feature in the Millburn & Short Hills Magazine’s 2020 Holiday Edition »