Christmas by Design Review - Leading Designers Create Magical Enchanted Wonderlands

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Christmas by Design, by Patricia Hart McMillan and Katherine Kaye McMillan, and published by Schiffer Books, brings to the pages a enchanted showcase of twenty-nine well appointed homes dressed up for the Christmas season in their holiday best.

With a forward by Mark Candelaria, of Candelaria Design, Scottsdale Arizona, who explains, "I have been blessed to have designed more than a thousand homes in my thirty-five year career. So much inspiration, collaboration, and plain hard work goes into the creation of these homes, which are beautiful in their own right 365 days a year. But nothing is more rewarding than seeing them adorned for Christmas. I marvel at the level of detail and customization my clients infuse into their homes ay this delightful time of year. In some cases residences are larger than 10,000 square feet, yet virtually every room has some level of holiday decoration that imparts meaning, memory, or sentiment."


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Author Patricia Hart McMillian, explains "Christmas, a season of unrestrained joy, is the one time of the year for decorating with passion – perhaps even abandon! It's time for pulling out all the stops, going over the edge, "jingling your bells," as Palm Beach designer Keith Carrington says. It's time for being "as tacky as we like," adds Florida interior designer Cecil Hayes (an Architectural Digest "Top 100" designer). But even with license to commit decorating faux pas, most of us are appreciate some guidelines."

Inside the oversized specialty book, readers will find homes decorated by Architect Mark Candelaria, and Interior Designers Mary Douglas Drysdale, Shayla Copas, Beth Webb, Chris Hill, Shay Geyer, Melissa Galt, Mitzi Beach, Cheri Stith, Dustin Van Fleet, Howard Weigins, Leland Stone, Marilyn Trainor Storey, Rhonda Peterson, Tim Little, Patricia McClean.

Also featured are Interior Designers Keith Carrington, Kristin Tips, Debby Gomulka, Gloria de Loudes Blalock, Christmas décor designer Cheri Smith and Jamie Weyand, Christmas décor designer, Robert Basich, Christmas décor designer Johanna Parker and Christmas décor designer, Karlos Anzoategui.

Each designer provided an introduction about themselves and the home featured such as how the final design was achieved, personal client taste and choices. Some featured personal residence.


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For Palm Beach architect Keith Carrington he presents his fun use of colors; Marilyn Trainor Storey, tells the story of a Christmas tornado that destroyed her entire home, sparing her and her family and how they are rebuilding. She also allowed her easy Grasshopper Pie recipe to be reprinted. Rhonda Peterson, explains both the monochromatic and skittles approach and Karlos Anzoategui creates the perfect blue Tiffany box and the sparkle within.

The residences captured with the 255 pages are nothing short of spectacular. Stunning showcases as creative spaces before the interior designers even sit down with the clients to determine the direction, palette choice, decoration, style choices traditional, whimsical, flamboyant, Santa's workshop or rustic country Christmas. The ideas, of course, are only limited to the imagination.

The twenty-nine homes brought to life within the pages of Christmas by Design captured each of these styles and ideas.

Thumbing through the pages each of the designs jumped off the pages for various reasons, and the Geyer Residence in Frisco Texas, titled Funfetti, for its whimsical choices and beautiful non-traditional color palette of fuchsias, blues and greens and still able to make the choices into a beautifully decorated, eye catching joyful display. Designed by the home's owner Shay Geyer the main room was limited to delightful cool blues and greens and featured on the books cover.

Each of the children's room had a Christmas tree designed to match the color scheme of the rooms. The non-traditional mauves, peach, light greens, blues against a white artificial tree for one child and the younger child a pink artificial tree with ribbons, butterflies and elongated ornaments add to a magical enchanted play area.

As all the homes are gorgeous, remarkable and noteworthy before the decorations, The Gawlik house, designed by architect Mark Candelaria, in Scottsdale, Arizona, was one that before entering was breathtaking.

Designed as an Italian Villa nestled in the hills of Sonora Desert. Twin circular marble staircases lead to the main entrance.

The homeowners, Robert and Mary Ellen Gawlik have a traditionalist view of the holidays, "When decorating for the holidays, Bob and I just try to keep the style and feel of our home. It's traditional, sort of fancy, but not to fancy, pretty but comfortable, We choose the traditional warm, cozy colors of Christmas-red and green-plus gold that adds warmth and brightness to the tree and reflects the fabrics used in the living room," says Mary Ellen Gawlik.


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The show stopping architectural features in each of the room, from the marble columns, arched walls and beamed ceilings, the crystal chandelier, an oculus window, beverage center, and a see through fire place make the decorating effortless as the traditional holiday palette and multiple Christmas trees, and ribbon trimmed greenery create just the right warmth and holiday spirit.

A Tropical Christmas is our next stop with Palm Beach Architect Keith Carrington whose featured a contemporary residence. "A well thought out plan is a necessity in my book, of course straying from it is where the magic can occur. Traditional does not have to be boring. Christmas décor should be as much fun as one can get away with." He continues, "All colors are welcome in my life. Embrace all color combinations. Let your imagination run wild. Explore color you may not typically use." 

His "skittelicious" approach on decorating works as Palm Beach is an artist mix of colors and design. Across the next ten pages Carrington's magic touch, creates a lovely mix of traditional, gentle warm colors, and all the right holiday accessories bring the holiday spirit into full bloom. His even includes the pool cabana in his holiday decorating adding a pink flamingo floater.


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Christmas by Design is a splendid display of architecturally resplendent homes each as unique as the owners. The residences are warm, exotic, traditional, all magical, enchanted wonderlands. Invited to view, by the owners permission, the readers catches a glimpse of ideas, creations, of what make a charming holiday fantasy.

Christmas by Design, a must have addition to any home library, is available at fine book stores everywhere and through Schiffer Books.

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