Pacific Northwest | November 30, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineNovember 30, home
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All in the Details
With things fresh, dried and faux, a bungalow glows
Despite the rain against the panes, the kitchen is warmed with highly textural, naturalistic decorations like these little faux evergreen trees, pinecones and beeswax votive candles packing the kitchen windowsill.
LAST CHRISTMAS was Lindy Ward's first in her new house with her new husband, Jay, who says he's never seen the house "so pussy-catted up." Unknowingly, he'd painted the house the ideal colors to inspire holiday décor — the updated old bungalow is decked out in shades of red and green year 'round. The tile floor in the kitchen is deep green, the living and dining rooms are a soft shade somewhere between moss and sage, and the den is painted warm cordovan red. Even the front door is brick-red.
A winter medallion, crafted by Holly Henderson, graces the Ward family's brick-red front door. The center is made of red velvet roses, surrounded by preserved pomegranates, gilded artichokes and sugar-pine cones. Preserved cedar is feathered around the edge. The sumptuous naturalism of the medallion sets the tone for the Christmas display inside.
This palette of warm Christmas colors serves as a perfect backdrop for the sumptuously natural, nonglitzy decorations Lindy favors. The talents of the newlyweds, along with plenty of help from Lindy's close friend, Holly Henderson, converged to turn their home into an extravaganza of a Christmas house. Henderson, who delighted in the decorating as much as the owners, is the proprietress of Lavender Heart in the Madison Valley, a shop known for its pure-beeswax candles, wreaths and creative use of fresh and dried materials from the garden.

Jay, who has worked as a painter, contractor and restorer of homes, picked all the colors for the house. Built about 1910, the bungalow was moved decades ago from the corner of Lake Washington Boulevard and Madison Street and set on the foundation of a torn-down '60s house. Jay was hired to remodel the old house in the early '90s, and ended up buying it.

Besides adding to the house and restoring it to splendor, he designed and built the openwork fence that so suits the style of the place. In summer, the white fence is intertwined with red and cream roses; at this time of year its lattice pattern is draped with densely woven garlands of fresh boxwood.

Lindy worked for years doing department-store display in California and New York, and moved to Seattle with a start-up coffee company. Now she's a partner in the Madison Valley yarn shop Tricoter. Her eye for detail, color and texture shows in the choice and abundance of the decorations, as well as in how perfectly they match the style of her home. Nothing looks overdone, piled on or artificial, even though the clusters of raffia-wrapped amaryllis are made of silk, and many of the other decorations are a clever mix of faux, dried and fresh materials.
The amber-lighted alpine Christmas tree is real, but the European bundled stand of red amaryllis is made of silk. All the decorations are set off by the home's red-and-green color scheme.
Using faux sugared apples and pine cones, Henderson crafted the alpine garlands hung throughout the rooms. A few of the fruit and cone-laden branches are stuck in the Christmas tree to continue the theme. The highly textural garlands wrap the staircase banisters and the fat columns that divide the living room and dining room from the hallway. Even the wire used to attach the apples and cones is copper-colored to match the amber lights on the tree and the copper pots in the kitchen.
A tray of elegant artisan chocolates made by Minnesota chocolatier B.T. McElrath would tempt even Saint Nicholas.
No detail is too small for these decorating aficionados, and the resulting look is seamlessly festive. It is the harmoniousness of the materials and colors that creates such impact, rather than anything shiny, sequined or made of tinsel.

The dining-room table and sideboard are decked out with red glazed pots from Holland, red poinsettias and little beaded votive candles as well as tall red "Fat Boy" tapers. The look is elegantly celebratory, ready to be finished off when red wine is poured into tall, lavender-pink crystal glasses with twisty stems.
An elegant table is laid and ready for Christmas Eve with red candles, pots and flowers playing off elegant crystal and white dishes.
By the time Holly and Lindy reached the kitchen, their decorating exuberance spilled over, and it is here they had the most fun. The windowsill over the sink is filled with little faux trees wrapped in colored raffia, tiny sugared pine cones and beeswax votives. Pomegranates on the counters continue the red theme, and the breakfast table holds bowls of green and red apples, as well as a real amaryllis. Not even the hanging pot rack has been spared. A red-potted rosemary topiary draws the eye up to read copper tags with Christmas messages woven into the mixed pinecone garland. Copper cookie cutters tied with bright ribbons dangle next to the copper pots and pans.

Even the cozy little den has a touch of Christmas. A formerly white space, Jay recently painted it the color of reddish-brown leather. The couch is piled high with hand-knit afghans and pillows in intensely warm shades of rust, red and purple. The chest holds a bowl of dried pussy-willow balls in deep purple, and a clutch of glittery little trees. Ivy topiaries in terra-cotta pots top the bookshelves.
Even the pot rack is decorated with garlands, ribbon-tied copper cookie cutters and a rosemary topiary in a Holland-red glazed pot.
As in most homes, the center of the festivities is the hearth and the Christmas tree. Here it is a tall, narrow alpine, unsheared and a little irregular, with bits of moss still clinging to the branches as it reaches up 12 feet toward the ceiling. Lindy says she has never spent so much money for a "Charlie Brown" tree. But despite its lean limbs, the tree has an especially warm glow, thanks to amber lights wrapped around the trunk as well as the branches. Hand-knit Christmas stockings and a garland of crystal pepper berries brighten the fireplace. On the coffee table, red beeswax candles burn next to a red tray holding artisan chocolates from Minnesota chocolatier B.T. McElrath. In shapes of flowers, butterflies and stars, each one is as individual and perfect as a jewel.

The heady scents of chocolate and pure, sweet beeswax vie with the fresh tree for the "best smell of the season" award. With so many temptations to smell and touch and taste, it's no wonder Jay tries to snitch a treat from the tray of carefully arranged chocolates.

Wouldn't anyone?

Valerie Easton is a Seattle free-lance writer and contributing editor for Horticulture magazine. Her e-mail address is Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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