You'll Envy These Designer Christmas Trees

Eight local interior designers take on the task of decorating the Christmas trees at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum for all to enjoy.



Photos Courtesy of Bartow Pell

If you’re looking for something festive to do before the Holidays are here, stop by the Bartow-Pell Masnion Museum in the Bronx to see eight Christmas trees decorated by local interior designers, each with a different theme, but all beautiful. The theme this year was childhood storybooks, which made the decorations all the more whimsical. You can visit and see the trees until December 31.

Here, we’re sharing some of the inspiration behind some of the trees from the designers themselves.

 

Front Entry Hall: 12’ tree
Theme: Secret Garden
Decorator: Carey Karlan

 Photo by Deborah KarsoN


What was your inspiration?
A: We were asked to choose a children’s book for a theme. I am reading The Secret Garden to my granddaughter and I was struck by what a lovely story it is of renewal, growth, redemption, and the value of our relationship with nature. An uplifting message for the season in our rancorous times!

I cut out a number of charming illustrations from several editions of the book, pasted them on glittery card stock and then tied them on the tree with soft gold bows. I clipped on a number of robins with silver keys in their beaks (a key plot point in the book), and hung seed packets with ribbons as well. Bundles of creamy sparkly flowers were inserted here and there. I created a tree skirt of moss with gardening tools, clay pots, stuffed animals, and flowers strewn all around. Finally, I used stick on letters affixed to ribbon to quote some of the wise thoughts from the book such as: "where you tend a rose a thistle cannot grow".

Where do you start when decorating your tree?
My sequence is always the same: lights (don't hold back), garland, ornaments, and finally hole fillers (stuffed animals, really big ornaments , pinecones, etc.) and finally skirt and tree topper.

What tips do you have for decorating a tree?  
You can't have too many lights. Work from the inside out. Sometimes it's better to wire ornaments on rather than  hang them. Don't be afraid to put big ornaments high up in the tree. I like a tree with different ornaments but all of a type; for instance all different kinds of sparkly ornaments, or all different kinds of rustic felt ornaments but not some rustic/some sparkly.


North Parlor: 10’ tree
Theme: Madeline
Decorator: Lindsey Lane and Emily Sharp

 Photo by Deborah Karson

What was your inspiration?

We began with the character of Madeline herself. What identifies her and the book series? The simplicity of the illustrations that bring her to life and take us through the streets of Paris truly define the books. From there, we were able to pinpoint a few iconic pieces of her character. From there, the bold blue jacket, the bright yellow hat and the glittering Eiffel Tower are the distinct pieces that bring the story to life. Then we just added gold, glittering ornaments and festive ribbon to help bring the tree decor to life.

What tips do you have for decorating a tree?  

We love a full tree that glows from the inside out! First key move, string lights all through tree, weaving in towards the trunk and back out, as you go around the tree. We recommend picking a simple colored large ornament to fill some of the inevitable gaps deep in the tree. This becomes your first layer and will help your tree have layers of sparkle and interest. After adding your all your ornaments, pick a wired ribbon that goes with your theme and weave varying lengths through your tree. This final layer will take your tree to the next level!

What tree trends do you see for this holiday season?

Do not feel like you have to use the traditional red and green in your home. Maybe a nice rust orange ribbon looks great in your home. Go for it! Choose something that brings warmth and love to your space. You will only have your Christmas decor up for a month, don’t be afraid try something a bit unusual!


 

Sitting Room: 8 ‘ tree
Theme: Beatrix Potter
Decorator: Kathleen Walsh

 Photo by Deborah KarsoN

What was your overall concept for your tree?

We chose Beatrix Potter’s series as our theme.

What was your inspiration?

We hit upon Beatrix Potter rather quickly. My daughters love a set of the books that was a gift when my older daughter was born, and my family had recently returned from a trip to England's Lake District where Beatrix Potter lived, wrote, and gained her inspiration. My team was hooked on the homespun quality we could use for our tree, and had a ball coming up with ideas for homemade ornaments.

Where do you start when decorating your tree?

I always start with a color scheme and some distinct materials. For our Bartow-Pell tree, we wanted browns, reds, greens, and ivory but in different forms: yarn, threads, wool felt, plus natural elements to evoke the woodlands and gardens where the stories take place - acorns and pinecones, plus we had to get the garden vegetables in. We made almost all our ornaments, including the wool felt characters. I had no idea my staff was so into crafts!

What tips do you have for decorating a tree?  

Leave room to add more each year. I like to say, start with a baseline that feels full and festive, but every year new things should be able to be added.

What is always a staple on your tree/in your holiday decorating?

My family decorates with ornaments and mementos from our travels. It sometimes seems odd to be seeking out decorations while on the beach or traveling to new regions, but we love it come December, when the memories come flying back.    


Upstairs Sitting Room: Tabletop tree 4’
Theme: A Christmas Carol
Decorator: Ginette Lospimoso

Photo by Deborah Karson

What was your inspiration?  

I chose Charles Dickens' a Christmas Carol as my story. The ambiance and style of the house made me think a Victorian inspired decorating scheme using natural ingredients that would have been on hand at the time would work well.

Where do you start when decorating your tree?

I really thought about what would be readily available in Victorian times and did research on how they decorated for the holidays. I did not want to recreate a historically accurate Victorian Christmas tableau, but rather take inspiration from that time period. I chose natural ornaments like pine cones, peacock feathers, gilded walnuts, and small glass ornaments to adorn the tree. I felt decorating the rest of the room was equally important and employed lots of greens, fresh fruits and nuts, plants, candles, and a mix of silver and wood vessels to house everything. I also included the traditional English Christmas crackers.

What tree trends do you see for this holiday season?

I am definitely seeing more rustically decorated trees, perhaps inspired by the Fixer Upper phenomenon or the interest in rustic Scandinavian design. Retro mid-century trees are also popping up.

What is always a staple on your tree/in your holiday decorating?  

White lights and lots of them and our collection of vintage ornaments. Plus, a pickle ornament. It's an old German tradition. Whomever finds the pickle on the tree gets a special gift and while our family is not German, we have adopted the tradition.

 

 

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