For many people, holiday decorating may involve a wreath on the front door, electric candles in the windows, a tree or two, some garland wrapped on a staircase or draped across a fireplace mantel above stockings hung with care, a nativity and a few special family mementos.
For others, however, holiday decorating is a passion, an opportunity to fill their homes with joy, beauty, humor and objects of delight. Karen Doman of Ridgefield is one of these people. Every door has a wreath, and every room has a theme, at least one tree, and a nativity — “We never forget the real reason for Christmas,” she notes — and wall art that doesn’t fit the theme is “wrapped” to look like presents.
Standing in the home’s entry, five trees are visible, including two on the staircase landing atop drum tables picked up in a consignment shop. The theme in the entry hall is music and birds, and the color scheme is predominately reds and golds. “It started with a Santa holding a musical instrument,” Karen says, and now includes a four-person, two-foot-tall chorus, birds on a stairwell garland weaved with ribbon, small trees on the tables and wreaths on the walls.
Karen describes her overall approach as “decorating on a dime” and says that having themes and being willing to go all out makes it fun and easy to pick up items throughout the year. “The whole family gets into it, spotting things that would be perfect for a specific room, so the rooms are always evolving,” she says. And sometimes they change radically.
Once decorated in black and burlap, the dining room has been brightened up with a white and silver ice and snow theme. The corner tree is flocked and the brass and fireplace screen chandelier covered with aluminum foil and white ribbon. Heavy crystal candle holders are inverted to hold ornaments. This year, the furniture has been replaced with Karen’s grandmother’s 100-year-old dining room set, and the black striped walls painted by Karen herself, giving the winter wonderland theme a more dramatic look.
Wine is the theme for the red and white living room (“My husband, Dan, collects it and I drink it,” Karen jokes), which features a tree decorated with Santa “parts” and wine implements. The room also includes several “picture presents.”
The home features three fireplaces — in the living room, dining room and family room — and each has stockings, but the snow people-decorated family room, with a stovepipe hat topper on the tree, has the ones that are filled Christmas morning.
The gingerbread and red and white theme in the kitchen began two years ago and blossomed quickly; a gingerbread nativity was eventually added. Gingerbread cutting boards and hearts abound and molding over the doors provide space for trains and other vehicles. This year, Karen relates, “I chalk painted the old china hutch and used peg board and chicken wire to make it look like an old French country piece. I love how it looks with all the gingerbread fixings.”
The back hallway features Advent calendars, a Noah’s Ark and Santa hats. The media room has the largest tree and “everything that is leftover,” including the burlap stockings that used to be in the dining room, and it is here that gifts are exchanged. Every room and hallway says Christmas in some way, including Dan’s office, where part of his beer can collection is shaped into a Christmas tree. Pictures of Santa, Christmas sleighs, and other décor items embellish the bathrooms.
A downstairs bedroom features the moon and stars and outgrown toys hung on folk trees. The children get to decorate their rooms as they choose, which can vary from year to year, but a sports theme includes a wreath reflecting sports decorations outside one door, while a bedspread shows Santa traveling through a starry night in another room. The master bedroom also includes a selection of wreaths.
Decorating the rooms a bit at a time, generally starting after Halloween, with family members participating on their own schedules, keeps the process a pleasure and prevents it from becoming overwhelming, Karen says. Then there is the pleasure of seeing family and friends enjoying the décor when they visit during the holiday season.
Additional photos by Bryan Haeffele: