Cece Calhoun's New Orleans Home Sparkles During the Holidays
CeCe Colhoun was born and raised in New Orleans, in homes so old they literally crumbled before her eyes. When she was leaving for school each morning, it wasn’t unusual to find the front steps littered with bits of molding the house had shed overnight. “I know how much work goes into maintaining a centuries-old home, and I admire people who do that,” she says. When she and her husband, Trevor, moved back to the Big Easy, they chose a new house that was surrounded by older homes and decorated it in a decidedly contemporary style overseen by designer Sara Ruffin Costello. The interiors are understated and refined with dramatic touches that reflect the couple’s aesthetic. The low-key glamour endures at Christmas, when Colhoun (along with landscape designer Niki Epstein and florist Margaret Ludwig) deploys strategic dashes of gold, Champagne, and white to create a fresh and festive look for entertaining. Here’s how they get it party ready.
Break Out the Silver
A green-and-white floral arrangement in the foyer is every bit as sophisticated as the neutral background of creams, whites, blushes, and blacks that frames it. The bouquet is set in a silver punch bowl that Colhoun inherited, a piece that Ludwig found to be just the right size and shape for the table. Don’t fear widemouthed vessels: They are as easy to use as skinny ones and offer the opportunity to create more dynamic arrangements that “drape and flow,” says Ludwig. A mix of naturally shed and resin-cast (artificial) antlers adds earthiness while also picking up the room’s creamy tones.
Take the Stairs
Rather than hanging the stockings over the fireplace (which the family uses), Colhoun turned the staircase into a holiday tableau. The garland is fresh cedar, typically available at plant stores and nurseries in 10- to 15-foot increments. Cedar takes some coaxing to get its tips to point one way and “flow directionally,” as Epstein puts it (in this case, following the banister’s downward line). The garland is secured every 2 feet with paper-covered wire (available at crafts stores) that won’t damage surfaces. Hand-torn strips of muslin easily secure the stockings and add a homey bit of texture.
Celebrate Each Day
Let the countdown begin. Every night until Christmas, Colhoun’s sons (Trevor Jr., 9, and Blaise, 7) get to dip into the Advent calendar, which was a gift from a relative and sits on the stair landing. She fills it with candy and dollar store toys. A spray of cedar garland, accented with large paper snowflake ornaments, rests in the window above.
In selecting the flowers and greenery, Colhoun and the designers had to consider the home’s location: right alongside
Audubon Park. “When the backdrop is ancient live oak trees, you can’t compete with that,” says Epstein. They kept it simple and local—and strictly green and white—using cedar, magnolia, and camellia foliage with white peonies, ranunculus, scabiosas, amaryllis, astrantias, roses, variegated white-and-green kale, and parrot tulips. These cedar garlands are hung from nails painted white and driven into the top corners and center of each window frame.
Let Sparkles Fly
In CeCe Colhoun’s lattice-wrapped garden room, a 12-foot Fraser fir displays ornaments made by her children. A 4-inch gold ribbon fills in the gaps between gold, pink, and rose gold ornaments. The train circling the tree skirt is led by the engine from The Polar Express. Colhoun’s sons get a new car for it every year.
Dazzle with Green and Gold
To balance out the brilliance of the tree on the opposite side of the garden room, Colhoun dressed up the pot of her bird of paradise plant with the same gold ribbon that wraps the tree. She chose a thin green silk ribbon to suspend a preserved-boxwood wreath from a mirror. Although the wreath is simple, its impact is multiplied by the reflective surface and the attention-grabbing effect of the large frame. Unlike fresh boxwood (which tends to shed), preserved boxwood is typically coated in glycerin and will look new year after year.
Located off the master bedroom, the porch directly overlooks Audubon Park. “It feels like a tree house,” says Colhoun. “The scenery is just beyond.” On days when the weather is nice, the swing is her preferred spot for reading, napping, and phone calls with her mother. While she opted against adding red Christmas accents inside the house, she picked bright poinsettias for the porch to complement the cheerful upholstery.