Story: Interview by Paulette Pearson | Styling: Mandy Keener |
At Home in Arkansas:
You’ve worked together on projects during the holidays for many years, combining your interior and exterior design expertise. How did you decide on the style of holiday décor for homeowner Jan Bolton?
Interior Designer Christopher Todd:
When designing, I like to consider how the client lives. This isn’t a warm, fuzzy, cinnamon-sticks-simmering-on-the-stove kind of house; it’s more sophisticated. But we didn’t have a rigid plan about how it was going to look. If you’re not able to adapt along the way, it won’t turn out well for you or for the client.
Exterior Designer Daniel Keeley:
Jan’s home is so beautiful and classically elegant, and we certainly didn’t want to overpower it. We like Santa Clauses and reindeer, but we wanted décor that was a subtle accentuation of the way the interiors are already.
AHIA: Does that explain the color palette and greenery?
DK: Yes, we chose to use beautiful seaside blues, silver and gold, and lots of glass. We just kept everything light and airy, unfussy and elegant. When you get down to it, evergreen branches are about as classic Christmas as you can get.
AHIA: These points seem to ring especially true in the dining room.
DK: The dining room was everyone’s favorite. We kept it simple and really enjoyed the clean, natural elements.
CT: To make the chandelier arrangement transparent, we used wispy greenery, etched glass balls in all different shapes and sizes, and beading, which I measured and cut in same-length sections for draping. On the side table, the faux snow also mirrored the icy quality of the room’s color palette.
AHIA: Tell us a little more about the décor over the kitchen island.
DK: We played up a more informal, garden look and used a collection of terracotta antique pots, flowers and garland.
CT: I filled a tall pot with pine branches then added wispy garland with lights, making it weave through the rack and holding it in place with assorted pots. For an organic look, I used wooden and copper containers filled with a mix of natural elements, colors and textures, including potted herbs, assorted mosses, boxwood and potted paper whites, which were also growing in various pots throughout the kitchen area.
AHIA: How often do you incorporate natural elements into your work?
DK: As an exterior designer, I always try to bring in outdoor elements. The greenery inside is largely faux for practical purposes—we decorated early and Jan frequently entertains—but we did begin with artificial and added live greenery in strategic places, including beefing up the banister garland. We interspersed huge sugar pine cones and manzanita branches, sandblasted white, throughout. Christopher also added live boxwoods and birch branches to the mantle.
AHIA: Is there a trick to using faux greenery?
CT: Most often guests and family won’t be touching the decor, so one of the most important factors is finding faux pieces that have a realistic color, which can sometimes be difficult to do. Another thing to keep in mind is arranging them in a way that live plants would naturally hang and grow.
DK: You can never get any better quality than the real thing, although I will say that the artificial stuff can be a lot easier to manipulate. The scale and mass is important. We often use double or triple garlands to achieve the look we have in mind.
AHIA: That Christmas tree seems to glow from within.
DK: I always err on the side of simple, but Christmas is the time to lay it on thick, if you’re ever going to. The tree literally has hundreds of ornaments. Christopher has a method he’s perfected for tree decorating.
CT: I start from the inside, hanging ornaments near the trunk and then moving outward to give it more depth, and I really fill it up. Also, I cut off the plastic strings that come with the ornaments and instead attach a wire fastener, so that they hang freely and don’t touch another ornament or branch. To respect the natural shape of the tree, I don’t add tree-toppers or ribbons. When I finished the tree, it was one of those times when we all stood back and said, “wow.”
Design Christopher Todd Design, Little Rock; DK Design, Fayetteville
Accessories Dauphine, Little Rock
Bedding, draperies Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale
Fabrics Joyce Holt’s Window Works, Little Rock
Furnishings Bear-Hill Interiors, Dillard’s, Ellen Golden Antiques, Little Rock
Holiday décor Tipton Hurst, Conway, Little Rock, North Little Rock
Lamps Keith James, Little Rock
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Plus, tour more homes in this issue: