“Deck My Halls”
Bringing in professional holiday cheer
Robin Curnan of Olley Court on Main Street offers advice and help for home holiday décor.
Photos by Douglas Foulke
When it comes to decorating for the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year can sometimes feel a bit frightful. There are boxes of ornaments to sort through, lights to untangle, and daunting decorating projects that may never come to fruition. Happily, for Ridgefielders short on time—or inspiration—there are several professionals who can expertly deck your halls, trim your tree, and infuse your home with holiday cheer.
According to Christy Kinsman, an interior decorator who owns The Little House Shoppe in Copps Hill, many clients who hire her for holiday decorating projects are seeking to recreate scenes from her store right in their homes. “People will see vignettes that I’ve done, and they’ll ask me to do something similar for them.” Other times, clients will ask her to add festive touches to existing pieces purchased from the store. That might mean filling a silver bowl with preserved-boxwood balls and silver ornaments or hanging a magnolia leaf and pinecone wreath over a gold mirror. Every year, Kinsman showcases six fully decorated trees. Last year she did a beautiful woodsy tree that was wrapped in grapevine and twinkly lights and adorned with copper birds, gold and silver ornaments, and topped with a burlap bow with gold-trimmed edges. It is no surprise that half of Kinsman’s decorated trees get snatched up by customers.
For clients who are interested in incorporating current trends into their holiday décor, Kinsman might mix in copper or bronze candlesticks to displays that have gold and silver pieces. To update a more traditional look based on reds, greens, and tartans, she might use birch logs tied together with a large red ribbon as a centerpiece. Kinsman says of her approach, “My greatest skill is my ability to marry things that people love and want to include in their holiday décor with the current trends.”
Interior decorators Susan Buzaid and Robin Curnan, owners of home-and-lifestyle store Olley Court on Main Street, have two words of advice for anyone in need of holiday inspiration: Go outside. Whether that’s taking clippings from evergreens to use on a mantel or gathering pinecones to display in a big bowl on the dining room table. “I’ve taken a huge piece of white-birch bark, filled it with moss and on top of that added in whatever dried, earthy pieces I could find from the woods and added it in and layered it up,” says Buzaid. “You can put that in a fireplace, on a mantel, or on a table.”
The design team’s other holiday decorating mantra is to keep it simple. “It’s better to have one glorious statement piece than to have a bunch of stuff that doesn’t mean anything,” Buzaid says.
Buzaid and Curnan start every project by visiting a family’s home and gathering input about what they want and how they live: How many trees to decorate? Are there young children in the home? Does the family want a theme for each room? Next, they’ll do an inventory of the family’s holiday items and fill in with pieces from the store as needed. Whether dressing a mantel or decorating an entire house, they strive to attain a look that’s clean, understated, and always special.
When designing a holiday tablescape, Deanna Marano and Brett Cameron, of La Maison Fête in Cross River, a planning, rental, and styling company, will often use a client’s own collection as a starting point. “Let’s say they want to use their grandmother’s china, we’ll find a way to make that the anchor of the table,” explains Cameron. That may mean mixing in contemporary pieces from La Maison Fête’s own collection with a client’s more traditional pieces or adding some vintage glasses or fun-patterned napkins to add cheer.
“Every client has a collection of something that we can use,” she says. While the venue often dictates the style of the event, Marano and Cameron also draw inspiration from magazines and things they see on their travels. Whether it’s a small dinner party or a more elaborate affair, they are mindful that people crave tradition during this time of year. “The holidays remind me of family and warm and cozy, so we tend to create a table that presents that,” Marano says.