When you buy a home on the same block as the “Santa house,” you have to be prepared to keep up with the Clauses.
That’s what local interior designer Lindley Arthur discovered when she and her family purchased a Paul Turney–designed traditional down the street from a University Park house that turns into a tourist attraction come Christmas. Every December, a sea of vintage light-up Santa Clauses take up residence in the home’s front yard, drawing hordes of onlookers to the Arthurs’ stretch of Southwestern Boulevard. Since the Arthurs—including husband Stroud and sons Leighton, 17, and Benton, 15—moved in a couple of years ago, folks who turn up to get a glimpse of the plastic Santas have been in for an extra treat: On Christmas Eve, after 5 o’clock church service and a home-cooked spaghetti dinner (an Arthur family tradition), Leighton dons a Santa suit and brings a bit of the North Pole to the Arthur abode.
“Popping in color injects a little bit of fun and keeps things from being too serious.”—Homeowner and Designer, Lindley Arthur
“They make the street one-way during the holidays because of all the traffic to see this other house, so all these cars are coming down our street,” Arthur says. “Then they end at our house, and there is my son, who spends all Christmas Eve out there, taking pictures with little kids.”
Inside the Arthur house, however, you’ll see no sign of Santa Claus figures or the typical red-and-green color scheme synonymous with Christmastime. Instead, Arthur opts for holiday decorations that complement the cool blues and peaches that populate her home throughout the year. “I think your decor needs to make sense with the colors in your home,” she says. “All different colors can be holiday.” An antiques dealer and avid art collector, Arthur filled the house with a mix of contemporary pieces and vintage finds, which she also takes into consideration when decorating for Christmas. “I don’t like a lot of tchotchkes and things out on the table, because I think they take away from my collections,” she says. “For me, it’s all about the beautiful tree and fresh greenery.”
With help from fellow designer and Christmas tree whisperer Billy Milner, Arthur begins the decorating festivities in the entry, where the sleek iron-and-brass stair rail gets wrapped top to bottom with greenery. The holiday spirit continues in the cozy “adult lounge,” a studylike space complete with a bar area and plenty of built-ins to house Arthur’s collections of Chinese black lacquerware, English wooden tea caddies, and antique English tortoiseshell boxes. Arthur covered the lounge in a custom peacock-blue lacquer from Fine Paints of Europe, and during the holidays, she adds greenery to the clean-lined black marble fireplace from Materials Marketing.
“I think your [holiday] decor needs to make sense with the colors in your home. All different colors can be holiday.”—Lindley Arthur
But it’s the Arthurs’ family room that gets most of the Christmas attention. Here, walls washed in Benjamin Moore’s creamy “Glacier White” provide a quiet backdrop for a tree trimmed in a palette of saffron, tangerine, and peacock blue. The perfectly complementary faux fir (Stroud’s allergies preclude the real deal) happily coexists with the family room’s regular residents—custom upholstery pieces, antique chests, brass accents, abstract artwork, and a cast-stone fireplace that also gets gussied up for the season.
“The family room is the heart of our home,” Arthur says. “This is where we hang out. It’s our TV room, and it’s where my boys are usually.” And, on Christmas morning, it’s where everyone gathers to open stockings and exchange gifts after a traditional breakfast of sausage bread. The family also partakes in one more Christmas tradition that would make a certain set of neighbors very proud: “Even though the boys are in high school,” Arthur says, “Santa still comes.”
Have Yourself a Lovely Little Christmas
Lindley Arthur’s holiday must-haves for a harmonious yuletide
- Be Scents-ical
- Take It Personally
- Wrap to Match
“I think scent is very important [in setting the holiday mood],” Arthur says. “If you have a real tree in the house, that usually takes care of it, but if you have to have a fake tree, like me, I love the Nest ‘Holiday’ candle. Everybody needs at least two or three of those in their house during the holiday season.”
For a personal touch, Arthur recommends adding a separate, smaller tree in the kitchen or breakfast room for special ornaments that might feel out of place on the main tree. “That can be a place where you hang all of your kids’ precious craft ornaments they’ve made over the years that you’ve saved and just couldn’t throw out,” she says.
“I am really big into your wrapping paper matching your home decor,” the designer says. “You have these wrapped presents under your tree for a month, so choose colors that look good in your home.” Arthur’s go-to place for wrapping paper is Paper Source, but she also suggests getting creative by wrapping gifts in old wallpaper remnants.