Crazy About Christmas

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

If you’ve found it difficult to find glitter, batting, ribbons, feathers and little elves for your home Christmas display this season, it’s because Sherlin Owen and Charlotte Hudson might just have bought it all.

Owen, who has never met a Christmas decoration she didn’t like, moved into her 10,000-square-foot home in Beckley Station two years ago. This year she told Hudson, a decorator and special events planner who runs Hot Pink & Moody, that she wanted to go “over the top.”

The planning began on Sept. 1, and the shopping occurred throughout October. Installation began on Nov. 1, with a crew out there 12 hours a day for well over a month.

“You don’t do anything on a small scale in Sherlin’s house,” Hudson says. “I knew every corner had to be done, every hallway and passing, so that everywhere your eyes could look, it had to look like Christmas.”

That begins at the beginning: a 30-foot floor-through entryway taken up almost entirely by an enormous towering Christmas tree crawling with peacocks, including one that’s six feet long and is trailed around by eight other smaller baby peacocks.

The pièce de résistance follows directly behind in the great room, which has been turned into the Polar Bear Room. More than 100 polar bears of all sizes and dispositions (though mostly happy) romp, sled, sleigh and rest throughout the room.

All the room’s furniture was removed and a mirror about 100 inches around was laid on the ground like a skating pond and covered with white batting and stuffing for snow.

A big “snow”-covered slide tumbles down from one corner of the room. A polar bear drives a sleigh across the top of the room.

The overhead bear and his sleigh are supported by fishing line strung wall to wall. “This was the biggest challenge,” Hudson says. “Sherlin’s number one rule is you can’t touch the ceiling or hang anything from it. So I brought in Matt Jessel (of Jessel Construction) and we found a way to suspend the chicken wire from the tops of windows and crown moldings.”

Adjacent to the polar bears’ playroom, the hearth room was converted to the Elf’s Room, now home to about 300 elves.

“I think we bought every elf in Louisville, Chicago and Jackson, Tenn., as well as on the Internet,” Owen said.

Sherlin and husband Lafayette’s master bedroom is now the Orange Elephant (in the) Room, combining two of Sherlin’s favorite things.

“I love elephants and I love orange, so I had my painter turn all the elephants orange, and Charlotte crisscrossed the tree with orange feather boas.”

The study has been transformed into the Angels in Paris room, all elegant, frosted white and silvery – lit by glittery LED lights – plus lots of large and small versions of the Eiffel Tower and other subtle references to Paris. For example, the white tree is topped with white ostrich feathers arranged to resemble the headdress of a showgirl at the Lido or the Moulin Rouge.

Upstairs, a guest bedroom has become the Wilderness Room, full of nature and forest creatures like owls, deer, birds, porcupines, moose, raccoon, squirrels. For the room, Charlotte found a unique chair wrapped in vines with a little owl attached to a little tree.

The roomy basement contains an aquatic-themed tree with blue and green sea-life ornaments and big blue-green artificial flowers that look like coral wrapped around the base of the tree for a skirt and a red and white striped candy-themed tree, clearly aimed at children.

All told, by Hudson’s estimates, there are 25 reindeer, big and small, in the house; more than 20 trees; 20 Santas and “I’ve lost count on number of elves,” Sherlin says.

The decorator said the challenge, which was also the opportunity, was the large home’s vast open floor plan. “Sherlin wants you to see Christmas everywhere you look,” she said. “Every time you turn, she wants you to say ‘Oh, Wow!’”

That includes the real Santa Claus, who will be visiting later this month. Sherlin likes to tell the story of finding the house on the Internet while vacationing in Florida two Novembers ago, contacting the agent around midnight and wrapping it all up in two days. But she acknowledges some serendipity to the timing of the transaction.

It was November, and Santa needed a suitable landing pad when he hit Louisville. This gives him everything he needs, from elves to toys to reindeer.

How will he find the house? Oh, we haven’t even begun to discuss the lights on the outside. Take a look at the pictures.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune