Many of us are familiar with the rush of holiday decorating. Carving those pumpkins and setting out ghosts for Halloween, yanking them down and putting up Pilgrims and turkeys for Thanksgiving, and then suddenly it’s time to trim that tree and hang the garland. For many San Antonio homeowners, this means choosing decorations for a home with an average size of 2,236 square feet.

That’s challenging enough, but what if you live on an estate? Where would you begin?

Cheri Stith and Jamie Weyand of Feather, Fluff and Flings have dealt with this situation a number of times, recently with an estate on Wildwood, near Olmos Park. Over the years, Stith and Weyand have learned some important lessons about holiday decorating for estates. The first is to attend the Dallas Holiday & Gift Market in January every year to acquire items scaled for these homes.

“Ribbon, ornaments, nutcrackers, reindeer — anything you can imagine is there,” Stith says. “It’s a must for us for decorating estates.”

They also learned to meet with clients early in the year. “We ask about colors and themes to establish what they are looking for. We show them things we bought at market, to see what appeals. Meeting early in the year is essential to acquire the necessary items and to schedule installation,” Weyand says.

Traditional Charm
“The home on Wildwood is an incredible estate,” Stith says. “It is a grand three-story home, so our holiday decorations were scaled to match.”

This particular home is built in the Southern plantation style with ornate moldings, paneling and crystal chandeliers. The homeowners asked Stith and Weyand for a traditional theme to complement the architecture and designated which areas they wanted decorated.

Stith relates that estate owners often begin decorating one or two areas and then add rooms as years go by. This couple decided to begin with the front door, formal living and formal dining areas. Because of their Southern roots, they plan to add magnolia garland to the banisters next.

“We always offer to incorporate the homeowner’s own decorations because many times they are heirlooms,” Stith says. “In Wildwood’s case, the homeowner wanted to use her own ornaments on the tree.”

Stith and Weyand worked with the front door first. Because the house is set back from the street, the pair knew they’d have to double the garland for enough width to make a visual impact. They wound two kinds of ribbon through the garland and added cranberry florals, pinecones and a variety of colorful glass ornaments. LED lights were added last to ensure their sparkle could be seen from the street.

The two large wreaths on the ornamental wrought iron front doors are a glittery combination of several kinds of red and gold ribbons, cranberry picks, gold foil poinsettia florals and red and gold balls. Crafting these sumptuous creations takes several hours of planning and yards and yards of ribbon. After the holidays are over, they need special storage containers to keep them in pristine condition.

Living Room Sparkle
In the formal living room, the homeowner chose red, white, gold and lime green as the color palette for the mantel and the tree. The white stone fireplace is a work of art in itself, with intricate carving covering the surface. Stith and Weyand wanted to create a garland that would complement the mantel and celebrate the season.

“We began with about 30 feet of garland,” Stith says. “We always work in layers when we design decorative garlands. First, we added more than a hundred floral picks — pearly white berries, matte lime green berries, shiny red foil leaves and glittery red leaves. Gold ornaments were then attached. The next layer was 24 yards of lime green ribbon edged in gold and a red and white ribbon woven through the garland. Finally, we added yards of LED twinkle lights, carefully tucked around the other layers.”

Two oversized nutcrackers were positioned on either side of the fireplace to complete the space.
The designers used a similar color palette for the 10-foot tree. Glittery lime green berry picks were added to the berry selection, as were gold foil and green leaf picks. Matte and shiny red balls were added, too. It took a team of three about three hours to complete the project. The result was a stunning Christmas tree.

Elegant Dining

The formal dining room features burnished molded wood paneling, a large sparkling chandelier and crystal wall sconces. The rectangular dining table seats 10 and is laid with poinsettia-embellished placemats and table runner. Antique silver candelabra hold cranberry tapers.

The fireplace at the end of the room features a white marble surround and hearth beneath a carved mantel. Stith and Weyand fashioned a garland of gold and white ribbon, sage ribbon, green and white berry picks and glittery tiny pears to complement the marble. Gold foil ornaments, tiny silver reindeer and magnolia florals complete the piece.

After the New Year
What happens to these gorgeous decorations when the holidays end?

“We’re great elves!” Stith chuckles. “Estate homeowners are busy people. They don’t have time to take these decorations down, so our team goes in with packing materials and boxes — even crates — to store them. Each box is labeled with the contents and where the item was displayed. This makes installation faster the following year. The homeowner then stores everything.”

And the decorating cycle begins again!

By Robyn Barnes

Photography by Al Rendon