December 2009 Issue
All the Trimmings
Inspiration from three New Albany homes will help you deck your halls this season.
It’s tree-trimming night at the Turner home in New Albany, a suburb of Columbus, and the family’s treasured glass ornaments are carefully unwrapped and spread across a large kitchen table. Jillian, the youngest, goes first, choosing a candy corn ornament like her memorable Halloween costume. She hangs it on the tree in the adjoining gathering room. Kyle, her 15-year-old brother, can’t decide between his prized shark ornament and the family’s cherished soldier one. Merideth, their 17-year-old sister, chooses the Empire State Building ornament and recalls her 13th birthday trip to New York City. So goes the Turner family’s tree-trimming ritual, like many other holiday decorating traditions shared across Ohio.
’Tis the season for holiday home tours, when you can peek into some of the most beautifully adorned houses around and gain inspirations for new decorating traditions. Here, we spotlight the Turners’ home and two others in New Albany that participated in last year’s Columbus Junior League Holiday Tour of Homes (the 2009 event takes place in Grandview).
New Albany is a community known for its Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and prestigious annual equestrian event. When it comes to preparing for a holiday home tour, these homeowners go all out.
All Things Santa
Kathy Turner loves the arrival of Christmas and the opportunity to bring out her beloved collection of Santa ornaments that take center stage in her family’s home during the holiday season. Participating in the tour gave her a reason to get holiday preparations done early. She says there were many late nights, but the advance work made for a peaceful Christmas. “I enjoyed the holidays a whole lot more,” she says.
Her ornament collecting began innocently; she purchased her first Christopher Radko object before she was married. Now her collection includes hundreds of this artist’s famed blown glass ornaments — enough to fill a large tree in the gathering room and two smaller ones in the dining room. She even displays extras, including a few broken ones, in an old-fashioned sleigh in the dining room.
She collects his traditional line of European mouth-blown glass ornaments and his newer Shiny-Brite line of retro-Americana ornaments. Considering that there are thousands of Radkos available, Kathy focuses her ornament collecting on the jolly man in honor of her Santa-loving father. She also looks for ones to commemorate family members’ special events of the past year. She says she shops on eBay and at the Curio Cabinet and Christmas Village in Worthington. One of her
favorites features three baby Santas on a peppermint carousel.
A contingent of Santa figures also adorns the gathering room mantle where the Santa theme extends with large, needlepoint stockings, including several created by Kathy. Another needlepoint canvas for a Santa ornament is hooped by Kathy’s sitting chair. She says she works on these needlepoint ornaments during her kids’ sports games and gives them away as presents each year.
In the kitchen, Kathy transforms the cabinets into gift packages with ribbon wrapped on the fronts and tied with large bows. She fills tall apothecary jars with seasonally colored red and green candies including old-fashioned ribbon candy, gumdrops and M&Ms, and finishes off the jar tops with red satin bows. More red satin ribbon bows decorate three rosemary topiaries along the kitchen windows.
In the dining room, two Christmas trees stand on opposite corners of the dining table, and the kids’ Christmas crafts are whimsically displayed among Kathy’s Flow Blue china in the hutch. Even at the table, each place setting of Royal Worcester’s Holly Ribbons pattern is embellished with a miniature glass ornament, a finishing touch that, like the rest of the Turner home, shines for the tour.
The Hales’ English-country-hunt-themed decorations create an inviting setting for the holidays and are a comfortable fit for bird hunter and outdoorsman Ben Hale. Ben and his wife Jan enjoy spending holidays sitting by their wood-burning fireplaces with family and friends, hosting parties and gathering around the dining room table for special meals.
Jan says being a part of the home tour inspired her to get an early start and give greater thought to her holiday decorating. However, she confesses the tour involvement was a bigger deal than she expected, partly because she says she worried too much and wanted everything to be perfect. Her worries peaked on the tour day when she walked through one of the most highly decorated homes. “I was nearly hysterical,” says Jan, “but then the mayor stopped me to share she had just toured our home and liked it the best.”
Jan’s carefully selected decorations begin at the front door. Guests are greeted with an evergreen wreath festooned with a brass hunting horn. Inside, a striking arrangement of pheasant feathers, heavy velvet ribbon and greenery tops the stairwell’s newel post in the foyer. The hunt theme continues in the nearby library with its Christmas tree of miniature pheasants, hunting ornaments, hunting horn tree topper and the family’s collection of more than 50 silver bells. A wooden train was recently added to the base for the Hales’ young grandsons. The room’s mantel complements the Springer Spaniel portrait with its arrangement of greenery, pinecones, wooden ducks, pheasants and miniature white lights.
In the home’s red dining room, the Hales’ table is set for a formal gathering with their wedding china — Gold Florentine by Wedgewood — set atop gold chargers and flanked by white linen napkins wrapped with gold ribbons and sleigh bells. The hunt theme is subtly repeated with pheasant feathers tucked in a lush green centerpiece. The mantel’s decor accents the still life painting above and features a garland of red flowers, velvet ribbon and greenery.
In the great room, a garland of Southern magnolia leaves, pheasant feathers and Williamsburg-esque fruits frames the large fireplace and a towering tree trimmed with gold balls, glass icicles, glittered snowflakes, burgundy velvet ribbon and a pheasant feather tree topper is a show stopper. Nearby, a glass-fronted kitchen cabinet displays Jan’s mother’s Bavarian “Noel” china, patterned with a Christmas tree. During the holidays Hale, an advocate for using the things you love, sets the table with these special dishes every day.
Gilded pinecones, glittered candles, gold-frosted ornaments and metallic-ribboned garlands create an elegant wonderland for Amy and Merle Bowling and their two daughters, both dancers in a local production of “The Nutcracker” ballet. Amy says she chose decorations that are more elaborate than past years to be “tour-worthy,” but now will enjoy the festive pieces they acquired for years to come.
In the music room, a lantern trimmed with lemon leaves and twinkle lights sits atop the baby grand piano. The Christmas tree sparkles with shimmering ornaments, a whimsical snow-white garland and a star tree topper of gold-painted grapevines.
Another tree in the gathering room is festooned with strings of pearls, burgundy balls and sprays of gold twigs. The room’s fireplace becomes a focal point with a garland, a wreath and topiaries of greenery and burgundy-colored berries. Plush burgundy stockings complete the scene.
In the kitchen, the cabinet tops are dressed with greenery, fruits and cinnamon sticks. Here, the Bowlings enjoy cinnamon rolls, a Christmas morning tradition from Amy’s childhood. Amy says she likes to involve her daughters in the Christmas decorating, so together they create a gingerbread house to display in the kitchen, hang an advent calendar from a kitchen door and display school craft ornaments on their own kid-sized tree in the den. The tree’s skirt features the girls’ handprints added each year in gold paint.
Amy’s only regret, she says, is that the season isn’t long enough. So take her lead and deck the halls, light the candles, hang the stockings and enjoy a festive holiday season while it lasts.