The holiday spirit is evident at the first glance at the Mahony home in Weston. Not only is there a ribbon-decorated wreath on the front door, but also an even larger, lighted wreath mounted on an arched window over a balcony above the door with electric candles gracing every window. The windows alongside the front door reveal a formal Christmas tree atop a table in the two-story foyer, decorated in gold, silver and mercury glass topped with an angel. Large glass ornaments suspended from ribbons adorn the windows throughout the home.
The home is filled with fragrant greenery: on the living room and family room mantels, adorning chandeliers, running along the top of kitchen cabinets, on the windowsill behind the sink, on the chandeliers, and arranged in a variety of containers. Much of the decorating consists of simple objects imaginatively arranged or used in nontraditional ways. It is “all about putting the right combinations together and keeping everything in scale,” owner Elizabeth Mahony says.
Decorating the house for Christmas is a family affair. Elizabeth’s husband, Richard, created a tree from branches that hangs on the music room/office wall, and the couple’s three children made the pom-pom “garland” and other objects that decorate it when they were small. Each year the family decorates numerous gingerbread houses, and they are displayed as well.
The living and dining rooms have simple, elegant décor, such as large glass ornaments that are hung singly from the curtain rods on a wide ribbon and that match or complement the draperies, and small greenery accents the electric candle in each window. The living room also has a large, elegant wreath over the fireplace mantel, centered between glass vases holding full greenery, and gold bulbs and ribbons highlighting a short garland atop the mantel.
In addition to the formal tree in the foyer, a second, larger tree, cut by the family each year, fills the space before the windows in the family room. For three generations, it has been a tradition in Richard’s family to each year give an ornament to all the grandchildren. These and many ornaments made by the children as well as felt and wood figurines decorate the more informal tree. The more casual décor in the family room includes a wreath accented with small pinecones hanging from a ribbon over the fireplace mantel, which itself features drapey greenery accented by red ornaments, large pinecones, two small topiary trees, and twinkle lights. Tin houses the family acquired when they lived in London more than 15 years ago are arranged on a shelf over the television. This space also features several wooden trees alongside lanterns in which small holiday objects have been placed.
The easy-flow house is made for entertaining — and that, the family does. Christmas gatherings include an annual luncheon for 35 of Elizabeth’s friends. Christmas Eve is spent with friends, preparing and eating Middle Eastern food, then it’s on to Assumption Church for Christmas Eve services, where Richard sings in the choir. Christmas breakfast includes waffles and sausages from Penny Ha’Penny, a British goods store in Wilton. Later, extended family and friends gather to exchange gifts, sip champagne and prepare a Christmas feast.
With all that entertaining, “Christmas baking is big for us,” Elizabeth notes. “All of my daughters love to bake and decorate cookies.” New cookie recipes alongside family favorites are prepared in the spacious eat-in-kitchen, which receives as much holiday decorating attention as all the other main-floor rooms. Two wreaths adorn the triple glass doors, and the light fixture over the table is adorned with a small garland and red bulbs of various shapes. The area behind and the counter around the sink is joyful, with red bulbs suspended from the valance rod on gold ribbons, and small greenery of various heights lining the windowsill accented by small containers and other decorations.
Elizabeth got into gardening when the family returned from London about 17 years ago, learning much on the subject from Sydney Eddison of Newtown, who has written seven books on gardening and frequently lectured in Fairfield County.
After receiving encouragement from friends for her skills, Elizabeth began a small business focused on container gardening. “I enjoy creating new combinations of plants for each season and especially love the lush fullness of a winter container,” she says. Once the holidays are over, however, she will be turning her attention to prepping her house to go on the market this spring. “We have enjoyed many wonderful Christmases in this home, but with the girls all out of the house, in college, etc., it is time for us to find a new place to create holiday memories.”
Additional Bryan Haeffele photos: