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A Secret Touch

Getting a little professional design help from Lillian August



Photos by Rana Faure

I love decorating for the holiday season—bringing out festive linens, creating seasonal sparkle, and adding fresh greens throughout my home. But these last few years, I’ve been in a holiday decor rut. It’s the same-old, same-old. It occurred to me that I routinely add new pieces to my wardrobe and my home accessories. So why not my holiday style? 

Fashionable salvation arrived when I attended Holiday Design 101, at Lillian August Design Center in Norwalk. In-store designers Marla Turner (pictured at the bottom of the page on the right) and Terrance Rhodes (pictured at the bottom of the page on the ) transformed a corner of the store into stunning dining room, living room, and conversation alcove tableaus. They walked attendees through their design choices, providing creative tips on how to add extra “bling and zing” to our entertaining style. “I like to think of everyone as a celebrity,” says Turner with a smile. “So our overall goal was to evoke a glitzy, fun, holiday vibe that could work for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, even an Oscar party.” 

“We chose a primary palette of white because it’s clean, crisp, and pure,” adds Rhodes, also a talented floral and landscape designer, “and then added accents of black, grey, and gold. The inspiration was a blending of interior design and the fashion world. Kind of Alexander McQueen meets Hollywood.”

The design duo begins their presentation in the dining room, explaining how various elements were strategically layered to create a striking and glamorous look. The shimmering, over-the-top gold-and-crystal chandelier evokes a super-luxe disco ball and serves as both the focal point and jewelry for the room. The rectangular dark walnut dining table showcases brushed brass legs, echoed in the similarly styled brass legs of the dining chairs, which are chicly upholstered in a neutral buff linen.

Instead of place mats, open-weave metallic gold runners travel the length of the table on both sides. Delicate white china place settings with gold rim detail are accented with modern, gold-hued flatware and gold-rimmed stemware. Starched white linen napkins are tightly rolled and tied with a gold ribbon, and then adorned with an aromatic sprig of cedar. “Anyone can do this,” says Rhodes. “Boxwood, pine, cedar, and holly all add a nice holiday touch.”

Four towering gold candlesticks heighten the sense of drama and serve as a counterpoint to the two all-white flower arrangements. Amaryllis, roses, spray roses, hydrangeas, variegated cedar, and magnolia leaves are gathered in low profile, textured white ceramic vases. Two small orbs covered with white carnations sit in the center of the table. “Carnations are often viewed as the poor relation of showier, more expensive flowers,” says Rhodes, “but used creatively they can add a modern touch.”

Clear-bubbled glass paperweights of varying sizes are positioned between the flowers and candlesticks, adding visual interest and another reflective surface. A nine-by-twelve-foot rug in hues of silver, grey, beige, and cream subtly threaded with gold in an understated Art Deco pattern ties it all together. Connecting the dining room to the conversation area is a tall gold-and-black lacquer étagère displaying various objets d’art including a gold Buddha head, design books, a piece of gypsum on a Lucite base, and a delicate white bowl with a gilded interior. A large pop art print in black, gold and white, fronted by a vintage Louis Vuitton bench with Lucite legs, adds a fun rock ‘n roll note. 

Next is an inviting conversation/bar area that brings old Hollywood to mind. Depth is added by the use of a four-paneled black-and-mirrored screen in a geometric pattern as a backdrop. The inviting setting includes a three-tiered, wheeled bar cart in brass and Lucite that holds holiday stemware along with decanters and gold bound fashion design books (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès). Flanking the cart are two chairs upholstered in white cowhide with faux elk horn frames and large gilded Ikat throw pillows. The overall effect is so glamorous, one can easily imagine Marlene Dietrich slinking in, clad in a 1940s Jean Louis gown. 

The living area is equally glamorous, with a sophisticated 1970s Halston-era feeling. “We incorporated different textures to add dimension to the living room design,” says Turner. “We used lacquer, fur, hides, stone, sequins, velvet, gold and silver lamé, and charcoal gray shearling with pops of white.”

A pale gray linen-upholstered sectional gets a style upgrade with the addition of throw pillows in various fabrics andtextures. Above the sofa hangs an exquisite black and gold child’s ceremonial kimono framed in a black shadowbox.

Triangular black-and-gold floor lamps with square ivory shades heighten the room’s drama, and a charcoal gray leather bench and dark cowhide club chair provide a masculine balance for the more feminine touches. A gold and green malachite accent table contributes a welcome pop of color. 

The effect of the overall design was dazzling. I found myself fantasizing about being invited to a swanky soiree in those fabulous rooms. I left the workshop feeling energized and inspired, excited to add new textures, accessories, and yes, even a bit of upscale bling to my own holiday décor. And guess what? You can, too.

 

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View map »


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Where:
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View map »


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More information

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Cost: $250

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
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View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
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More information

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160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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Cost: $100

Where:
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44 Upland Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Jennifer paints with vibrant hues in multiple layers, capturing her exuberance and fascination with color and texture. She has developed her own style through many years of experimentation,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free!

Where:
Tapping Reeve Meadow
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

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New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

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Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
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View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: $175

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View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Andrea Bingham
Website »

More information

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Cost: $300

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View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
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More information

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View map »


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More information

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View map »


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More information

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Cost: $100

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

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Cost: Tickets: $60 – $20, $10 (Young Adults 18-25), and Kids under 18 Free!

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

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Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is celebrating the middle of summer vacation with a week of FREE afternoon crafts and games for families at the Tapping Reeve Meadow....

Cost: Free!

Where:
Tapping Reeve Meadow
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Landmark Community Theatre will be extending it’s Youth Theatre Education program this July with a summer camp intensive focusing on Acting, Dance, and Voice. The camp...

Cost: $175

Where:
Landmark Community Theatre Production Center
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View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Andrea Bingham
Website »

More information

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Cost: Admission is $7 per person; children 12 & under free.

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

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Cost: $99/$114

Where:
Wisdom House
229 East Litchfield Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Wisdom House
Telephone: 860-567-3163
Contact Name: Bonnie Mis
Website »

More information

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Cost: $99/$114

Where:
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229 East Litchfield Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Wisdom House
Telephone: 860-567-3163
Contact Name: Bonnie Mis
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Papermoon Performing Arts
Telephone: 203-707-8428
Contact Name: Danielle Eichman
Website »

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Mock Stock is going Metal in a nod to AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and Metallica.  Halfway to HELL (Tribute to AC/DC)- Halfway to HELL- AC/DC Tribute features a High energy stage show with two...

Cost: Tickets $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
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Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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Summer Concert Series Package includes 4 concerts that will be shown all at Hunt Hill Farm. All concerts start at 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM on the dates below with artist information. For more...

Cost: $100

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Rd
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Join in the fun this summer as we challenge you to OWL Reads! Challenge yourself to read six to nine books this summer! How to participate? Beginning June 20th come to OWL to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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Jennifer paints with vibrant hues in multiple layers, capturing her exuberance and fascination with color and texture. She has developed her own style through many years of experimentation,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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The Farm-Fresh Market was created in 2007 with 15 local vendors, and has grown over the years to become a staple of the Litchfield Hills community throughout all seasons. We were so proud to be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Center School Parking Lot
Woodruff Lane
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Telephone: 860-567-3871
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Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
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