Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas with the du Pont's

This year for Christmas Scott and I decided that in lieu of gifts, we'd take a trip, two actually. The first, a fun sun-filled vacation on the beach fell thru (Ah darn!), but the second, a sophisticated tour of the H.F. du Pont Winterthur Estate, the premier museum of American decorative arts, for Yuletide - a Christmas themed tour of the home - was an exciting experience that may just become a permanent appointment on our December schedule.

Many of you know that to say I'm a fan of Winterthur would be an understatement. Since my first visit in June, I've been taking every opportunity available to experience the museum and grounds. Yuletide, a favorite of Winterthur visitors, explores traditions of the past and dazzling holiday entertaining displays. During my tour I took lots of pictures, but I highly recommend visiting the display yourself - I promise, you won't be disappointed!

The hall to the museum was beautifully decorated for the holiday, with two twelve-foot trees decorated in silver, crystal, and white.

Most of the trees were beautifully created by Winterthur's Mack Truax, but others were decorated by Winterthur volunteers, docents, and gardener Len Elwell. As you well know by now, if not only from my posts on Winterthur, they're a beautiful place for inspiring and sophisticated interior design, rich with history and European flair. But every once in a while, you'll find some playful touches:

Did you spot Godzilla attacking the cabins tucked into the bottle brush trees? A great laugh to lighten up the spirits, and a perfect way to start off the tour - after all, this is supposed to be fun!
At the end of the "Godzilla Hallway" you get to this cobble stone hall. Isn't this stunning? Once the family's squash court, it's now home to the museum's Windsor chair display ... but the yuletide festivities turn it into a beautiful vignette of how fresh and artificial greens were used throughout the generations.

I found this to be absolutely perfect. Simply decorated with pine cones and ribbon, you can bet that CDLV will have something close to this next year!

Now, in the Hall of Statues is where you find the themed trees - all inspired by the gardens of Winterthur. First, the Fairy Tree, inspired by the children's garden at Winterthur.
The spring tree, inspired by the March Bank of Winterthur. Blues and yellows to mimic the beautiful daffodils and hyacinths found at Winterthur in early March.

Because the bulbs peak through the snow, the tree was flocked with snow, and adorned with crystal ice cycles and pendants.

A theme, beautifully executed - don't you think? Then there is the peony tree:

Beautiful right? Winterthur has some of the most natural gardens in the country. Filled with azaleas, dogwoods, peonies, roses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, and jack-in-the-pulpits, the staff of Winterthur's Gardens dries these many flowers each year to decorate the perennial favorite:
Yuletide's dried floral tree. Many of these flowers won't make it through this season, so next year they'll start fresh - and I think you can too! I use hydrangeas from each summer in many of my fall and winter displays, so keep that in mind when you tend the garden this coming spring and summer.
The azaleas at Winterthur are stunning. Remember, they're the reason for Winterthur's "Chic-it-Up" conference series namesake. The azalea tree was beautiful:

New this year are vignettes depicting mid-1800s Christmas celebrations at Winterthur and the January 1938 wedding festivities of Pauline Louise du Pont. Daughter of H.F., he spared no expense in making sure the reception after the wedding was of top notch! The team at Winterthur set up two of the rooms at Winterthur, including the conservatory, to mimic what it might have been like.

Part of my fascination with Winterthur is their collection of textiles. (I'll have a great post on that later.) This tree was inspired by one of the jewelled coats in Winterthur's display of textiles, and pictures unfortunately, just don't do it justice.
Notice the picture of the coat in the bottom left.
And how could I not show a shot or two of the Winterthur dining room, simply decorated, but beautiful.

Winterthur is open on Mondays throughout the Yuletide season. Tuesdays, December 7, 14, 21, and 28 feature extended hours with evening tours and shopping and dining opportunities. Tour reservations are recommended. Purchase tickets here or call 800.448.3883 or 302.888.4600.

Yuletide runs until January 9, 2010, so there is still plenty of time to visit the estate, and take divine inspiration! Print your $5 coupon for Yuletide on their website:, and if you get the chance to go - let them know you heard about it here.

PLUS!!! Did you get MONEY for Christmas? If you're anything like me, it's burning a hole in your pocket and you're looking for something beautiful for your home, right? Well my friend Maureen at The Inglenook Decor is offering all of my readers 20% off of her already reduced prices until 12/31/2010! So hurry over, and get it before it's gone ... at a HUGE bargain! Who doesn't love that? Use coupon code: 20atx0819


  1. wow wow wow and wow again - thanks for sharing this - it is just amazing - best le

  2. Artie...simply beautiful! What a great idea to travel there for the holiday. :-) Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas.
    Happy Holidays!

  3. Those trees are all decorated so beautifully, Artie! I cringe to think of my own tree next to any of these! : ) I do love the pine cones on the stairs. I am hoping to go a little simpler and more natural next year and this would be perfect {maybe with just a touch of greenery}. You're lucky to have such a great place to visit near you.

  4. ♫•*¨*•.¸¸ belated merry xmas! ¸¸.•*¨*•♫

  5. Happy Holidays to you Artie. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics of your trip. I live about 1 hour from there and haven't been for a visit in years! What's with that? Must begin planning. I adored the Spring tree. Brilliant idea! Did you get to see the fountain show set to music?
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  6. This was so delightful for you to take us on the tour. It is all interesting and beautiful.
    Thank you and may you have a wonderful New Year.

  7. Artie- I spent the longest time on this post that I think I have ever spent on any post. I LOVE this tour. That fairy tree close up is just darling...and the gorilla in the trees- hysterical. Wouldn't you have loved to been an invited guest to eat in the conservatory all dressed for the season?

    I LOVE that you gave us the tour of this beautiful, beautiful more thing. On the natural flower tree? Did you notice that when you took the shot the Palladin window behind the tree gave a whole new dimension to the top of that tree? A perfect photo shot! Hugs-Diana

  8. Artie, Winterthur is so beautiful, and though I've never visited in person, I know it quite well from all the books I've read about the White House, and when one follows it, one finds that without Winterthur and H.F. DuPont, Mrs. Kennedy would have taken a decidedly more French direction, as she did toward the end. Stephane Boudin was brilliant, but H.F. steered her mostly in the correct direction of great American design.

    Beautiful post.

  9. This is a very very beautiful and nice post.It is true that furniture is very basic thing in home decoration.And I also love a well decorated and furnished home that's why I found a place to get a stylish and discount bedroom furniture for my new home.

  10. such a beautiful post Artie! hope y'all are having a wondeful holiday!


  11. Oh Artie, I loved this tour! Thanks for taking me along. laurie