All Is Bright: A Festive Holiday Home
A Sparkling Display
Every year at holiday time, Anne and Jonathan Carr's Connecticut home becomes a backdrop for a seasonal display that sparkles with sophistication while feeling totally down to earth. A mother of three children, ages 5 to 10, Anne says her decorating strategy is rooted in modern design, not fussy details. She likes to make a couple of big statements relying on a palette that harmonizes with each room. "I used to do a lot more when the kids were younger," she says, "but I think you can get a festive look with a few easy touches and also save your sanity." Decorating is more than a pastime for Anne who, with partner Connie Dirvin, created the online home design shopping guide Blinkdecor.com. Both her effortless style and her new business sprang from a need to save time and simplify her life. "When you have kids there are only so many days for shopping and decorating," says Anne.
The Main Event
Anne trims the tree with mirrored garlands and ornaments that play off the contemporary cool of the living area's graphic fabrics. She attaches balls to an oversize boxwood wreath and places shimmering reindeer—the kids glued glitter onto forms—on the coffee table. The striking color scheme reflects Anne's fearless sensibilities. "I'm a color person," she says, "but for anyone who's afraid of bold hues, try bright accessories such as lamps or pillows first."
Anne sets the scene by filling apothecary jars with treats. She and the kids make candy trees from Styrofoam forms and gumdrops.
Room to Play
Even when the family room isn't dressed up for the holidays, the big cushy sofas, a study nook with desks, and a TV make it a magnet for the kids—Henry, Charlotte, and Melanie (pictured with Anne)—and their friends. Anne chose the color scheme because she loves red and was inspired by the idea of primary-school hues. "The stripes caught my eye when I was shopping," she says. "I usually find a fabric I love and then build the room around it." The bright, happy space lends itself to Anne's vision of a child's ultimate fantasy: being inside a candy store.
A swag of fuzzy pom-poms and vases of amaryllis on the mantel add to the jolly atmosphere.
"Every year my kids put a mishmash of balls and wood ornaments on these quirky little artificial trees," Anne says.
Turn the Tables
Anne gives the dining area a little bling by dangling snowflakes and a mirrored disco ball from the chandelier. The hanging lamp, made of low-voltage lightbulbs adorned with feather wings by designer Ingo Maurer, was an impulse purchase. "When I first saw the fixture I thought maybe it was too daring," she says, "but my approach to decorating has always been to just go with my instinct."
The benches and marble and Lucite table are kid friendly—they can easily be wiped clean with a sponge.
You don't need much to create a brilliant table—colorful plates, gleaming glass, and candlelight.
Feather Your Nest
An arrangement of feather, gold, and silver trees makes a fun tabletop vignette.
Anne's Easy Holiday Tips
—Fill a glass pedestal bowl with clear glass balls—Anne likes aqua—and add shimmer by cutting up mirror garlands and arranging them inside.
—For a simple, natural look, arrange greens and pomegranates on the mantel.
—Rosemary topiary trees never go out of style—on a table or in the kitchen.
—Spray white lacquer on pinecones for a snowy, shiny look.
Get the Look
Make your home sparkle with some of Anne's key holiday decor items.
Visions of Sugarplums
Lime-green drop ornaments, Seasons of Cannon Falls, $6 each, visit seasonsofcannonfalls.com for stores.
Mirror ball, eParty Unlimited, $14, epartyunlimited.com.
O Christmas Trees
Cream bottle brush trees, Cody Foster & Co., four for $75, 800-595-5907.
Round mirror garland, Jamali Garden Supplies, $7, jamaligarden.com.
Doe, a Deer
Glitter deer, KD Vintage, two for $36, kdvintage.com.
Let It Snow
Silver snowflake ornaments, Seasons of Cannon Falls, $4 each, seasonsofcannonfalls.com for stores.
Pretty Enough to Eat Off
Red Velvet appetizer plates, Rosanna Inc., four for $30, rosannainc.com.
Anne's Favorite Gifts to Give
Antiqued gold contemporary Soleil Mirror, $125, jaysonhomeandgarden.com.
Bright merino wool and cotton knit blankets, Ducduc, $148, ducducnyc.com.
Robin's egg Munjoy mod tumblers, Angela Adams, four for $32, angelaadams.com.
Mercury glass tea light candleholders, two for $26, tonichome.com.
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.
This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings, and styles are subject to change.