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Please Join Me with Trudy Dujardin, FASID, LEED AP

Welcoming Your Holiday Guests With Style: Part One

 

Thanksgiving is a day, an event, and a feeling we evoke by how we present a single meal to the people we love.

 

 

One of the joys is the repetition of traditions year after year, with family members who travel from near and far to come together under one roof. We all love to see Grandma’s china, the silver brought from the old country, the crystal goblets that were wedding gifts, the green bean casserole that doesn’t taste the same any other time of the year.

 

 

Welcoming your guests with style, though, sometimes means rethinking what makes a home a sanctuary, and what makes a table setting a delight. From flowers in the foyer to cozy nooks arranged for quiet time with a book and a cup of tea, blending old traditions with new ones allows the family to grow and change. And that’s exactly as it should be.

 

 

I want to share with you some of the special touches I’ve enjoyed creating for both my clients and my own family. I also want to introduce you to the floral artist I turn to for special occasions: Adam Manjuck, owner of Flowers and Flowers in Darien, Connecticut. He’s spent years creating gorgeous floral and foliage displays for his clients, and specializes in going into their homes and decorating every room with beauty and elegance. He’ll return to Holistic House next month to share even more decorating ideas for the season’s best holiday displays!

 

 

So come in, get comfortable, and let’s talk turkey!

 

 

Throughout your home, beginning at the doorstep, engaging all the senses creates a festive frame of mind. Adam points out that when people enter his shop, they are immediately aware of the rich mix of fragrances, from green growing things and soil to the delicate scent of bouquets of flowers left out for visitors to touch, smell, and enjoy.

 

 

“People are enchanted by the bountifulness and the mingled smells in the shop,” Adam explains. And one of his touch points for holiday decorating for his clients is to create an enticing bounty of fragrance and beauty at home. Our sense of smell can take us back in time, or keep us firmly in the present moment. Adam likes to blend the earthy smells of cinnamon and eucalyptus in addition to floral scents.

 

 

Adam continues: “Thanksgiving isn’t all about the table. We do accent pieces around the house, too. The entry way and the powder room are perfect spots for another splash of flowers and foliage. But the table at Thanksgiving is the experience.”

 

 

Adam and I agree that it’s key to have the right sized centerpiece! Candles and flowers that are in the way don’t work! Adam says: “It’s either high or low–not in between.” Guests should be able to see each other and converse easily around the table. No one likes to leave the table with a stiff neck from dodging the flowers to talk to Uncle Ned.

 

 

Choose a theme and then don’t be afraid to pull in items that aren’t, strictly speaking, made for dining. The seaside dining tableau, below, used the brilliant shades of orange, blue and white to sing a song of the sea. Napkins were held with rings of polished abalone shells, and tiny seascape Battersea enamel boxes were scattered across the table to set an ocean wavy mood. Whimsical items show your personality and are often conversation starters for guests as they get to know their seat mates. The vintage Murano glass, with its soft tints of amber and green, are a bit of cherished history.

 

 

Bone-handled flatware pairs perfectly with Hering Berlin hand-painted porcelain. 

 

 

You don’t always need elaborate decorations; sometimes a simple soup tureen can be an eye-catching focal point, especially on Thanksgiving when it’s shaped like a pumpkin.

 

 

Don’t automatically reach for a vase to hold flowers. The ivy twining around the table above was cut in my garden just that morning, and was the perfect touch.

 

 

Vintage serving pieces, bowls, and even fish bottles can make charming receptacles for flowers. Use the things you love–just arrange them in a slightly different way, and add a spray of ferns, olive branches, or dried grasses to create a stunningly original centerpiece.

 

 

Adam explains that he likes to use the homeowner’s containers instead of generic bowls or vases for his displays. Especially at Thanksgiving, there are sentimental pieces that should be in a place of honor. “Mom and Grandma like to come and see the piece they gave to my client,” he says.

 

 

When filling those bowls, his focus is on abundance. “I use lots of foliage,” he says. “You can add flowers and a candle to something low and long that elongates the table. I like trilogies–one larger display flanked by two smaller ones. You can put candles in between. But everyone needs to have something pretty in front of them!”

 

 

Just as in designing interiors, where texture can add another level of interest, Adam believes in texture and something unexpected. He might tuck in antique hydrangeas, chocolate cymbidium orchids, or seeded eucalyptus.

 

 

African pods are another favorite for shape, texture, and color!

 

 

The beauty of a single flower shouldn’t be overlooked. The Swedish philosophy of “Lagom,” meaning “just the right amount–not too much, not too little,” encourages selecting one beautiful item for contemplation. A single spray of flowers can be just the right touch.

 

 

In the same way, a fall leaf can be the simple touch that’s just enough.

 

 

Whatever you do, don’t overlook a special place of honor for the desserts. We created this display one year for the historic Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Connecticut. The Victorians knew that the richness of desserts deserved a rich setting as well!

 

 

However you begin the holiday season, I hope you’ll find comfort, warmth, and joy with your family and friends as you collect new memories. See you next month at Holistic House for Part II of Welcoming Your Holiday Guests with Style!

 

 

A Decade of Christmas Trees

 

christmas-fourl

 

The Holiday 2016 issue of Review Nantucket includes a retrospective of a decade of Christmas decorations I’ve created for clients, showhouses, and the Nantucket Whaling Museum’s Festival of Trees. It was wonderful to look back on a body of work that was a joy to create, but truly ephemeral. I’m so glad to have captured the beauty of these holiday tableaus with photography. They inspire me again when I see them–I hope they bring you fresh inspiration, too!

 

review-christmas

 

There’s something so touching about Christmas trees. It’s not just the beauty of the lights and the ornaments. It’s the tradition of creating a magical display that stands for something bigger than ourselves: a renewal of light and love, and the memories of all the Christmases we’ve celebrated through the years.

 

christmas-music-room

 

For many years, my Senior Designer Price Connors and I have created a new theme for a Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees. Once we decide on an idea, we adorn a tree in a completely original style–we never repeat a design! One year, our inspiration was Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of Starry Night, so everything sparkled with stars.

 

christmas-starry-night

We recreated his night sky by draping a table in deep blue fabric, using wide gauzy star ribbon as table runners, with tiny silver stars sprinkled on the tabletop. We added glittering star boxes tied with bows, and even a dish filled with blue and silver star candies.

 

christmas-starry-night-two

 

I believe in expressing the spirit of Christmas differently each year. As important as tradition is, it’s also wonderful to let our celebrations evolve. It’s easy to fall back on decorating the same way every year, placing the same Santa’s on the mantel. But it’s also fun to create a fresh new look.

 

christmas-snow-maiden

 

One of my favorite tableaus for the Whaling Museum was the Legend of the Snow Maiden, a Russian fairy tale brought to life with the maiden silhouetted in a white cathedral between two glittering trees hung with icicles. That one was especially meaningful to me and to my father, because we are of Russian heritage.

 

christmas-russian-cathedral

 

Winter seems to awaken my imagination. As snow begins to fall, my thoughts to turn to twinkling lights, the sparkle of crystal in candlelight, roses and ribbons, and cherished china. One traditional decoration I love is the gingerbread house, which has appeared in my decorations as historic houses on Nantucket, and my own home. The most elaborate creation was made to my specifications by Colette’s Cakes in New York–a reproduction of the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow!

 

christmas-russian-tree

 

The tree that accompanied it was entitled A Russian Christmas Fantasy. The tree was a splendor in red and gold, with red glass balls, golden ribbons and over 50 handmade Russian ornaments. There were Russian Cossacks, snowflakes, Faberge eggs and matryoshka dolls (the traditional nesting dolls), all delicately hand painted in festive fashion.

 

christmas-cookie-stockings

 

The real blessings and bounty of the season, though, are found in family and friends. I love simple stockings hanging by the fireplace. For our family gatherings, we encourage each other to give generously to charities, saving the gaily wrapped packages for the children, Vidal and Baby Richard. I find Christmas everywhere I look in December, but mostly, I find it in our hearts.

 

gg-tuffy-ellie-christmas-bed

G. G., Tuffy, and Ellie snuggle near the fire

 

 

Celebrating the Twinkling Season

I love the holidays, and one of my favorite tasks of the year is creating festive interiors for my clients.  This is truly the twinkling season, and time for making magic in every room of the house.  In this home, featured in this month’s ONLY Nantucket Magazine, we used fresh greens for garlands and wreaths, dressed seven full-sized, themed trees matched to each room’s decor, and embellished with mistletoe and holly, little white lights and gauzy bows!

Come along with me and take a look at the little details that add up to a lot of holiday cheer.  I hope you’ll be inspired to create your own unforgettable winter charm!

A grand display of red roses in a clear crystal box is always eye-catching and elegant, especially when combined with candlelight.

Formal columns have become whimsical candy canes, white hydrangeas grace the cocktail table from John Boone, boxwood tucked into antique garden urns make a festive hearth.

A Christmas tree bedecked in gold and silver gleams in the corner of the music room.  Wreaths tied with gauzy pale green ribbon adorn each and every window, and exotic white and green fringed Parrot Tulips, unusual for Christmas, strike just the right note in the elegant gathering space.  The Rose Tarlowe ottoman is perfectly placed for guests to sit and enjoy a sing-along, underneath a chandelier graced with evergreens.

A rock crystal chandelier sparkles above a table with the spirit of the homeowners’ beloved Nantucket:  white hydrangeas and red winter branches are a celebration of the island’s simple beauty.  The mantle is gloriously layered with evergreens, ribbons and stars; a stocking hangs by the hearth, waiting for St. Nicholas.

The kitchen has another candy cane column for a punch of gaiety; glass hurricanes on the counter are filled with little crab and lady apples.  A five-tiered gift box cake is waiting for guests to arrive:  there’s a party planned this evening!

The stairwell leading to the master bedroom suite is a feast for the senses:  fragrant cedar, spruce and boxwood swags are wrapped in ribbons; a single silver ball dangles from the sumptuous crystal chandelier custom-designed by Dujardin Design Associates.

A delicious tray of holiday confections add the sweetness of sugar and spice to the homeowners’ celebration: this couple blends their backgrounds and heritage in style, embracing both Christmas and Hannukah.

Whatever holiday you embrace, make it your own season of abundance and grace!  And remember to make it merry.  If you’re on Nantucket, look for the December issue of ONLY Nantucket for more of this holiday home!