Dreaming of a White Christmas

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

If you think your Christmas regimen of shopping for presents, sending out cards, baking cakes and attending parties is rugged, consider the Christmas of Louisville designer Jason Jennings.

Beginning shortly after Halloween, Jennings decorates about 35 homes over a four-week period every Christmas, not to mention the business offices and restaurants he handles.

And it’s not just dragging the old ornaments and wreaths out of boxes in the garage for him. He’s always looking for a new twist, a more contemporary version of a timeless touch, something to make the holidays at home memorable for all of his clients.

His Christmas shopping begins around the same time Colonial Design on Lexington Road in St. Matthews begins putting out its new holiday decorations. He buys everything for his clientele at the store, puts it all on hold and then asks the homeowners to go in, see what he has for them and choose from the rich trove. After working with some of his clients for a while, he’s pretty sure that what he’s picked out for them is what they’ll select.

And, as with most designers, he tries to match the look, feel and style of the holidays to the look, feel and style of the home. “A house flows with color, so the Christmas look should flow with color, too,” Jennings says. “It should have the same aesthetic as the house.”

For these East End clients in their new home, the previous decorations Jennings had created for them over three years no longer matched the décor.

“The house has a lot of blues, greens and whites, but no reds anywhere,” he says. “And each year, I try to add something new, instead of putting up the same stuff.”

The theme Jennings pursued for the home this year was a somewhat subtle nature theme, starting with the Christmas tree in the dining room, the smaller of the home’s two trees. “There’s always a foyer tree and a kitchen tree, here,” he explains.

In the dining room, what Jennings calls “my woodland tree” has been adorned with such touches from nature as “birch” snowflakes, little glass birds and squirrels, hollow birch logs and sugar pine cones.

Throughout the house, in fact, there are pine cones and acorns, animals and birds, berries and artichokes, faux and real wooden items and, of course, reindeer.

Also, needless to say, snow. The homeowner likes an all-white aesthetic, and Jennings played into that with the colors of winter – white, silver and pale blue, so that some of the items can remain on display throughout the year without seeming seasonally inappropriate.

The main Christmas tree stands, regal and imposing, in the front foyer, a tall floor-through space with a spiral staircase. It’s a study in white velvet ribbon, gold glitter, silver frost and metallic gold and silver ornaments, with a white ribbon tree-topper cascading dramatically down.

There are golden glittered artichokes and white glittered acorns. The skirt is a white faux fur blanket, emulating snow.

“This tree took two people about an hour to complete,” Jennings recalls.

Garland weaves up the staircase, with glass mistletoe hanging all the way up to the top. The wall sconces in the stairwell are adorned with gold glittery wreaths and ribbons, and a mirror in the foyer is tied to a preserved boxwood wreath, pine cone and creamy white ribbon.

Jennings got the idea of layering his wreaths this year from Colonial Design, so throughout this house are preserved boxwood wreaths with glittered snowflake wreaths laid on top.

All the mantels and tables in the house got the holiday treatment. In the formal living room, he took an orchid floral arrangement and added pheasant feathers, a golden wooden angel and mercury glass with the sparkle of Christmas. “I like to add a little sparkle in every room!”

There are 3-foot-high wooden angels on a table in the room with chocolate brown velvet ribbon decorated with golden bees and crowns. There’s a golden stag on the hallway table in the alcove, and glittery reindeer on the bar with mercury glass candle holders.

The centerpiece on the dining room table is a silk arrangement with a white rose sphere and snowy berries. Jennings added gold ornaments and glittered deer to the hurricane lamps that are always on the table.

A small nativity scene sits on the sideboard, and Jennings added mercury birds and a boxwood tree with snowy berries and juniper berries.

The fireplace mantel in the living room has faux garland with silver glittery ornaments, white sparkly acorns and velvet stockings. “Very elegant,” he says.

Clients begin calling him at the end of the summer to reserve an appointment, and he puts his schedule together in October. He does two houses a day. And then, when it’s all over, he goes home to his own Christmasy den to enjoy the holidays.

“I tend to change from year to year. But,” he admits, “I kind of like the reds and greens.”

  • Connie McDonogh

    He’s the best!