Holiday trimmings

Designers share ways to deck the halls with boughs of wow

  • This dining room was decorated for the holidays by floral designer Jake Boone of Bolton Hill.
This dining room was decorated for the holidays by floral designer… (BARBARA HADDOCK TAYLOR,…)
November 28, 2010|By Donna M. Owens, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Floral designer Jake Boone's home isn't just decorated for the holidays, it's dressed to the nines.

Inside the elegant Bolton Hill rowhouse he shares with longtime partner Bryan Jones, the season is celebrated in a dazzling display of color, texture, and luxe style.

"Every year we have family and friends dropping by, and neighbors peeking in the windows to see the decor," says Boone, who juggles roles as a real estate agent for Hill & Company, floral designer and event coordinator. "It's fun."

Fun, fabulous and eco-friendly might be the catchphrases for holiday 2010. From towering trees and glam table settings, to handcrafted ornaments made of paper, many designers in Baltimore and beyond are creating swoon-worthy decor this season, despite the still wobbly economy.

"More is more," says Boone, while strolling through the couple's three-bedroom, three-bath house, filled with antiques and estate sale finds, traditional furnishings and global art.

His holiday tableau complements the home by melding personalized touches and imagination.

For starters, a bronze French chandelier in the dining room is draped with some 350 shimmering ornaments in amethyst and chartreuse hues. Nearby, on a sideboard, twin brushed gold metal "ribbon" trees — each 6 feet tall — are accented with a thick cuff of hydrangea, artichoke and jewel-encrusted grapes.

A table-length swag of gilded magnolia and holly adorns a mahogany table set with eight Chippendale chairs. Faberge eggs, gilded twigs and berries, and sugared pomegranates are artfully arrayed around it. Silver champagne buckets are filled with roses in crimson and purple, while slender 32-inch tapers rest on the mantel of a marble fireplace.

And that's just one room.

The Baltimore native, whose projects have run the gamut from floral set design for film and television shows such as "The West Wing" to private high-end clients, doesn't decorate all at once.

Instead, he sketches ideas, determines a color palette, purchases new supplies and retrieves old favorites from storage. Then, over a period of weeks beginning around mid-November, he begins to execute his grand holiday vision.

"I think about an overall theme," says Boone. "Then I consider the tree — the size, type and where it will be. Floor to ceiling? Maybe on a tabletop, or more than one in several different parts of the house."

"Fresh greens," such as pine, will be incorporated. And of course, expect beautiful, fresh flowers – roses, hydrangea, amaryllis and narcissus, to name a few.

Unabashedly extravagant? Yes. "But always tasteful," Boone says.

Interior designer Linda Hartman, of Severna Park, favors a subtle, yet eye-catching aesthetic when readying homes for the holidays.

"It all depends on what the client wants, and how formal or casual the house, but I tend to do low-key with bits of sparkle and glitz," she explains. "I love using what's natural — pine, poinsettias, woven baskets mixed with evergreen branches, holly and magnolia."

But the centerpiece for Hartman is always the tree. "In my house, our tradition is a 12-foot tree. We get it every year from an old-time tree farm in North Carolina."

Hartman, an associate with the design firm Karen Renee Interior Design Inc., has more than two decades of experience.

Over the years, she has witnessed the shift from once ubiquitous red and green holiday decor, to vivid trees in white, silver and pink, to eclectic ornaments and accessories.

"You're seeing more ornate color schemes, but it's not as much of a head-to-toe coordinated look," she notes. "That's fine, if you wish, but I'm typically more relaxed. You don't want a hodgepodge, but everything doesn't have to match."

The designer recalls one year in which she worked with a client whose house was done in shades of peach, green, and gold.

"They wanted to use glass ornaments from their world travels," she explains, but the colorful collection didn't quite jibe with the existing decor.

So Hartman opted to make gold the focal point, to synchronize the look.

"I bought a lot of big gold balls, beads and ribbon," she says. "The gold tied it altogether, so you didn't notice that maybe some of the ornaments were red. It made a statement."

Creating dramatic spaces is all in a day's work for Samuel Hytovitz, founder/president of The Plant Connection LLC, an interior horticultural service in Randallstown.

His team of artists and plantscapers are behind the towering trees, poinsettia installations and thousands of ribbons, bows and ornaments from around the world that fill Baltimore's Harborplace, The Gallery and the World Trade Center for the holidays.

"The secret to a beautiful tree is to think artistically," says Hytovitz, whose handiwork can also be seen year-round at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. "It's like creating a painting in terms of color, appropriate size and special touches."

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