Friday, December 11, 2009

December to Remember Day 11: Tour de' jour - Donna

Donna's beautiful living room.

Many of my friends go all out for Christmas, and each of them are unique and different in their own ways. From minimal but merry, to loaded and luxurious, their decor is certainly blog worthy, so look forward to a few tour de' jour posts in the near future celebrating the beauty and diversity of their decor. For each of these posts, I'll include the answers to 10 questions I've asked them about their decor and Christmas traditions. Today, meet Donna, a neighbor and friend (who just happens to be an architect and landscape designer) and her beautiful home.

1. How many trees in total do you have, and where are they in your home?
I currently have 4 trees, one in the kitchen, two in the dining room, and a 9 foot live, Fraser Fir tree in the living room. My favorite variety was the Noble Fir from last year. Grand Fir makes a lovely tree, but has too large a base for my home. Firs are great around kids because the needles are less sharp.

2. Do you prefer/use live trees or fake trees? Why?
I enjoy both the appearance and fragrance of a live tree, although I appreciate the convenience of an artificial, pre-lit tree, of which I have three.

Donna's live Frasier Fir tree in her living room.

3. Where do you pull inspiration for your Christmas Decor?
As a designer, each year I find new inspiration for my Christmas display. Sometimes it comes from unrelated sources. One year, I used kitchen utensils, like cookie cutters, and silver flatware on my small kitchen tree. Although related to the kitchen, it only made it's association to Christmas by festively decorating each of the utensils. This year, all trees are embellished with faux flowers. I am a Master Gardener and I found the Dollar Store flowers more convenient, colorful and mess free than the dried flowers I used in a previous display. The dried flower tree was beautiful, but in a more subdued kind of way. And working in a dark space, such as I have, a brighter pop of color and sparkle is a plus. The walls of the space are a deep gold in the living room and dining room, medium grey in the kitchen, which allows a variety of coordinating color with which to experiment.

A close up of the beautiful live tree in Donna's living room. I love the large white ornaments!

4. Do you have a favorite ornament or decoration? Why?
My favorites change from year to year. As I create a theme, I add ornaments from year to year. I like the look to be fresh, often repeating, but executed in a new way. I make year end purchases at Target, which dictates a new theme for the next year. My favorite ornaments are my crystal ornaments, but they are not displayed this year. This year, my favorite are my little delicate birds and sparkly butterflies. They support the garden theme.

One of the trees in Donna's dining room, adorned with her favorite glittered butterflies.

5. Describe your childhood Christmas decor.
My family used the same ordinary red and green glass balls and multi-color lights each year. I often wonder where my artistry originated. I am the only painter, designer, architect in my family. I am not an interior designer though. When practicing architecture, the firm always hired qualified professionals in that field.

Quite a journey from the multi-colored green and red glass ornaments of Donna's childhood, this blue themed tree in her kitchen pairs nicely with the blue and white chinese porcelain she has collected in her glass cabinetry.

6. What proves to be the most difficult about the Christmas decorating process?
I would say the lighting on a live tree. It starts out properly wound around the boughs, then as the tree dries they get very loose and clumsy. It only takes about a week to loosen.

7. If you could add another tree to your Christmas decor, would you? If so, how would you adorn it?
My house is only 1700 square feet, so I am limited to adding more of anything. I decorate for 3 clients which satisfies my creative needs and gives me a couple more trees to adorn without my expense. Although, it sometimes impedes my own display due to time constraints, as it has done this year. My favorite theme is the antique trees. I love the look of the time honored traditions, with family heirloom ornaments. My one client has such a tree.

8. Do you switch themes or ornaments year to year, or do your trees stay closely decorated year after year?
As I mentioned in number 4, I try new themes from year to year. My most unusual theme was safari based, with lots of South African animals. The inspiration came from a painted ostrich egg that a friend brought back from South Africa for me.

The second tree in Donna's dining room decorated with Santas, poinsettias, and red glass ornaments in different sheens.

9. When do the decorations come down, and how long does it take to put it all away?
Traditionally, I take them down January 1, but I have found since using live trees, I am lucky to have them last to December 28, if put up December 1.

10. Do you have any decorating tips that could help someone else achieve your look?
Layer, layer, layer. Also, vary the scale and texture of ornaments and decorations, but keep enough repetition to make a statement. Keep your eyes open for nontraditional objects like flowers. Used in mass, they can help create a unique display. Juxtaposition of opposites also works great. Rough and smooth, old and new, shiny and matte, big and small etc. create interest. Pick a color from your space and play it through with your decoration, My foyer has a moss green oriental rug, so the stair is adorned with like green ornamentation. The green theme continues into the living room with a light display of green ornaments to give a bit of variety to a mostly monochromatic design. Don't be afraid to mix metals either. The dining room is a mix of copper and pewter, just use it a couple of times to indicate intention.

Many thanks to Donna for her time and for sharing her decor with us. This was my first year to visit Donna during the holiday season and see her beautiful interiors. I'm however very accustomed to admiring her beautiful landscapes, as she lives just a few doors away. So just a sneak peek of a few garden photos taken pretty late in our season this year to give you an idea of Donna's many talents.

The front path looking beyond to the well landscaped lamp posts of our parkway median.

The hardscaped and landscaped backyard area, including a comfortable dining space.

A view of the side landscaping.
Please leave your positive comments for Donna to see. I'm sure that she'll be checking in to read what you all have to say! As a courtesy, these tour de jour posts will be up for no less than 2-days, to give everyone time to view admire. Please, enjoy!


  1. Artie and Donna, thanks for sharing such a beautiful home!

  2. Oh my...what gorgeous trees and I love how she took the roping all the way to the ceiling on the fireplace. I really am learning that I need to put lots more "stuff" on my trees. What a fun tour...thank you both!


  3. Artie and Donna -- what beautiful Christmas decorations -- love what you did over the mantle -- THAT is impressive and something that I've not seen before! Love all of your trees and the fact that although you reuse your ornaments that you use them differently every year. I think that is interesting (from one whose tree is the same year after year -- at least I don't tag each ornament as to WHICH branch it belongs on!)

    The tree in the kitchen is amazing!

    And your landscape . . .

  4. Beautiful! I love that she has both live and fake trees. It's the best of both worlds.

  5. Love the trees, especially the live one. Love all the decorations. And love the landscaping too. -Delores

  6. Love,love,love it all.Some great ideas to be had.
    And I love the garden photos too.

  7. Artie and Donna,
    Thank you so much for sharing these amazing photos of Donna's home. I especially love what she did with the mantle. You have given me some great ideas for next year! Beautiful home and trees!!
    I am feeling very inadequate....

  8. Artie and Donna,
    Thank you for sharing a beautiful post. I enjoyed seeing the decor and reading the interview. I enjoyed the garden photos as well. Again, many thanks for allowing inside to gawk, dream, and go home to execute some of your ideas..

  9. so beautiful. I enjoy so much viewing your images.

  10. Thank-you to Artie and all his wonderful followers for viewing my images and leaving such nice comments. I appreciate your comments. I am now a new follower.

  11. Artie, thank you for this post. Donna, thank you for the tour of your beautiful home. Your mantle and trees are all gorgeous, but my heart started beating a little faster when I scrolled to the blue tree in your kitchen...beautiful, beautiful. beautiful!

  12. Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
    anyhow thanks for the good read!

  13. Whoa, I just loved this post, Artie! Aside from the beautifully decorated trees, know what my favorite thing is? Donna? Anyone? It's the greenery enveloping the whole fireplace area! I LOVE how Donna took it to the ceiling like that. Simply STUNNING!!!!!

    And oh, that front yard! What a great selling point that will be if she ever decides to move!

    Justine :o )

  14. Hi Artie~ ~

    Love love the blue tree in the kitchen! Someday I'll have a blue tree. This year I've got a start with blue glass balls on my tree in the sunroom. Stop by for a look. Thanks for the tour of Donna's lovely home.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  15. Yours is the place I come to sigh with delight so thank you for sharing with me your lovely taste.
    Warmest regards,

  16. Absolutely enchanting!!!!!!!
    Donna, thank you for welcoming us into your home. It was such a delight. -Brenda-