It’s going to be a super busy December, so I got a jump start on decorating my own house: we have eight fireplaces with mantles plus several other surfaces which “require” adornment so there’s a lot of sorting out and arranging to do. I have two rules, or should I say practices, which I observe for holiday decorating: I don’t bring greenery in until just before Christmas and I always choose a creature theme. Down in my basement, there’s a little room with shelves full of creatures of Christmases past: swans from last year, and then bears, foxes, sheep, hedgehogs, rabbits, mice, cats and lots of deer, of course. This year is all about pheasants, as I found some Royal Copley ones that I really liked this fall and wanted to keep them out: I’ve glitzed them up a bit and added some gilded companions. I love natural greenery but I can’t stand to see it fade, so usually I wait until the last possible moment to mix it in with my other decorations. This year I hedged on the rule, and added a few greens because I wanted some warmth and contrast, but more is coming! Someday I might go for simpler decorations but my holiday aesthetic is still pretty much all about abundance. The exception to the greenery rule has always been the Christmas Tree, but over the last few years we’ve had trees die on us before Christmas, so now we’re going to wait for that too. There’s nothing more depressing than a crispy Christmas tree, in my opinion.
Downstairs mantles, the “mantle” in the kitchen, measuring-cup creatures from Anthropologie and my pantry. The glittery squirrels always come out: they’re in the library. By the time I got to the second floor, I was running out of pheasants, so substituted a lowly duck. (There’s a few peacocks mixed in with the pheasants downstairs too, because peacocks). Last year’s swans on the shelf in the basement.
This past weekend was the Christmas in Salem tour, the major fundraiser for Salem’s historic preservation organization, HistoricSalemInc. It’s in a different neighborhood every year, and this year was all about North Salem, encompassing Buffum and Dearborn Streets, on either side of North Street, and a few homes off Dearborn. It was not at all a “colonial” tour, rather it had a bit of a retro feel to me despite the presence of many later nineteenth-century homes, including the gorgeous Queen Anne Ropes House. There was also a stunning 1915 bungalow on the tour, an unusual style for Salem. Gratitude and congratulations to all the homeowners: it’s quite an effort to open your home to 1000 people (believe me, I’ve done it twice). Christmas in Salem always puts me in the holiday mood: it’s such a lavish display of generosity and creativity and cheer: hopefully I’ve captures some semblance of these things in the pictures!
At the Ropes House: love, love, love the button garlands!!! Below: my friend Bradley guiding us through the kitchen in his Princess Diana black sheep sweater and everyone’s favorite “simple” decoration: red branches and floating candles.
Below: lots of textures and nooks and crannies on this tour! These are the details that gave me the retro feel.
What we want to see: table settings, a wreath, and a Christmas tree.
I hope all these homeowners are having a drink just about now (Sunday @5pm)!
A stellar Christmas in Salem tour around Salem Common this past weekend, featuring all the things that I love about Salem houses and Salem people. The combination of generous and creative homeowners, perfect clear and crisp December weather, and myriad magical details made for a very special experience. Here’s just a short list of attractions (I really could go on and on): a McIntire spiral staircase, beautiful views of the Common (as seen through very clean windows–the first thing I noticed when I got home was how dirty mine are), an artist’s atelier/bedroom, an alpine-decorated deck, kitchens extraordinaire, an architectural dollhouse, exceptional artwork and collections. To be honest, I barely noticed the Christmas decorations as I was so focused on the architecture and interior design. I was a bit pressed for time, so I skipped the three institutional stops on the tour–the PEM’s Andrew Safford House, the Bertram House, and St. Peter’s Church–and went right for the private homes, all along the Common and a few adjacent side streets. It seemed to me that the tour was curated for contrast: of scale (larger institutional or single-family homes contrasted with smaller structures and condominiums), of architectural style (everything was built in the nineteenth century but what a difference between the Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian and Colonial Revival!), of design (very modern and more traditional), of embellishment (very decorated and more minimalistic), and above all, of expression: the homeowners expressed themselves in various ways: through their own art or design, or through their collections, or both!
I was fortunate to obtain a press pass so I could take photographs of the houses, but 1) I am not a professional photographer and 2) I got completely overwhelmed by all I had to see/ “capture”, so please go on over to Creative Salem or to Historic Salem for more polished and comprehensive portfolios: it was really all too much for me, in the best possible way!
Let’s start with a sampling of beautiful rooms, and then I’ll try to present some of the details that caught my eye–just some, because there was so much to see.
Let there be light! This was a very enlightened tour, in more ways than one:
Dazzling Details…….of collections, an amazing restoration, and all sorts of embellishment, including an historic Salem gallery wall, an exterior Christmas tablescape (set up by the homeowner of a beautiful condo, who felt that she need to offer a “bit more”), and the ultimate dollhouse.
It was impossible for me to capture the complete creativity of Salem artist Thomas Darsney’s stunning home/gallery: his canvases were luminous but the entire home was in fact a canvas, with no surface or detail unconsidered.
Just a few exterior shots because again, the light was so beautiful on Sunday……