Celebrate in Style

Be inspired by these beautiful and unexpected ideas.
Julia Hamilton

Explore some fresh traditions this year by using decorations that will remind you of favorite journeys to faraway places. It's a great way of reliving happy memories while you make wonderful new ones.

When Paula and Glenn Wallace decorate their home for Christmas, they combine natural greenery with colorful mementos of their jaunts to Asia. Whether this talented twosome travels for business or for pleasure, they seek out art objects and beautiful pieces of furniture to send back home to Savannah.

Both Paula and Glenn are interior designers as well as administrators at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). (She's the president, and he's the senior vice-president.) For several years, they've enjoyed adding a Chinese twist to garlands, wreaths, and other holiday decorations used in their spacious and inviting home.the doorway to the dining room.

Designed for Dining
Built-in display shelves flank the white marble fireplace in the dining room. Striped silk draperies, tied back with tassels, soften the doorway and give the room an exotic, tentlike effect.

Creative lighting adds even more character. Instead of using a chandelier, the Wallaces installed a tall table lamp in the center of the circular dining table, a reproduction piece that they surround with antique English chairs. The electrical outlet is located in the floor below. "The workmen called us three times to make sure that we really wanted them to drill a hole in the table to accommodate the lamp cord," says Glenn.

Shiny silver beaded garland weaves through pieces of magnolia and fir surrounding the lamp base. Small goldfish bowls and vases of roses mark each place setting, and flower-filled urns and cuttings of cedar cover the mantel. With all these details in place, it's time for the merrymaking to begin.

 

Here's to Teatime
In the adjoining breakfast room, the couple clusters tangerines, a Chinese symbol of health and good fortune, on platters of cookies and pastries. Paula adds a pot of fragrant spiced tea made from her grandmother's recipe. Red and yellow roses fill Blue Willow porcelain containers.

The Warmth of Great Design
Year-round, their family room mixes comfortable traditional furniture with classic Asian elements, such as the black- and-gold chinoiserie fireplace surround and fretwork coffee table. A gold mirror above the mantel brings out the metallic touches on the surround. Armchairs upholstered in red silk flank the fireplace. The deep yellow sofa holds an array of patterned pillows trimmed in gold fringe. Sunlight, shining through the red-and-yellow plaid silk draperies, dances across crystal table lamps and jewel-toned oil paintings.

Mixing Foliage and Finery
The Wallaces suspend a trio of embellished wreaths from ribbons attached to the mirror in the family room. They arrange a collection of hand-carved wooden santos and other religious figures on the sofa table. The staircase decorations mingle bamboo calligraphy brushes with garlands of magnolia leaves wrapped in gold ribbon. Ceremonial Chinese headdresses, featuring intricate beadwork and embroidery, accent the foliage.

"Celebrate in Style" is from the December 2006 issue of Southern Living.