Let This Willoughy Home Designed By Patty Downing Interiors Be Your Inspiration For Holiday Decorating
The baby-sized bird’s nest next to each place setting cradles a cute clutch of little golden eggs, as well as the name of a guest invited to dinner. Six of them perch beside their accompanying plates.
The plates hail from the historic Herend porcelain producer and feature the Rothschild Bird pattern. The hand-painted scene, commissioned by the Rothschilds in 19th-century Europe, tells the tale of the family baroness who lost her precious pearl necklace in the garden, only to be found a few days later when two birds were spotted fiddling with it in a tree.
“The china is what gave us direction,” says Patty Downing of Patty Downing Interiors, the firm responsible for decorating the Willoughby home of Hope Jochem for the holidays. “It’s where we took our ideas.”
Acorns, berries and pinecones nestle in a centerpiece comprised of boxwood that runs down the middle of the table. Above, pine leaves adorn the chandelier. Small wreaths with green streamers hang off the back of the white slipcovered chairs. A pair of topiaries anchors the scape. For a moment, the baroness’ sweet story comes to life.
“The nests on the tables, the natural elements—we were trying to portray a feeling of that environment,” Downing says. “What we do as designers is play around with it.”
Because the dining room leads to an outdoor patio, a Christmas tree was placed behind the exterior glass doors to tie everything together. As for the staircase, it is visible from the dining room, so the handrail was wrapped with a longer version of the centerpiece.
“It’s meant to be a clean presentation,” Downing says. “What we wanted is to have an elegant design, but comfortable elegance.”
How does she want invitees to feel when they arrive for the festive meal?
“I’d like them to be comfortable and say, ‘Wow,’” Downing says. “I’d like them to be surprised when they walked in, yet be able to just enjoy themselves.”
Patty Downing Interiors’ Katie Astras describes the concept for the dining room as creating a feeling of organic depth while establishing the mood of a garden party.
“As designers, we are trained to take all the elements of a space and meld them together to develop a cohesive overall look,” Astras says. “The pops of white, the greenery, the metallic elements—all of those little touches are very intentional.”
The metallic elements include a collection of silver ornaments provided by Kathy Sue Tranter, another member of the firm.
“The silver ornaments have a story,” Tranter says. “My mother has given each of her children an ornament going back to the ’70s.”
The vintage Sleigh Bell balls from Wallace Silversmiths mark its 48th edition this year.
“My earliest silver Sleigh Bell dates back to 1973,” Tranter says.
“It is an amazing tradition that continues today.”
In the Kitchen
The project also involved the kitchen. While not a hint of red was used in the rest of the house, the vibrant color jumps out of the cozy wooden breakfast nook and dramatic wrought-iron cabinetry.
“We wanted to give it some personality for Christmastime,” Tranter says. “By mixing stripes and plaids, the red ribbons in the cabinetry, we did just that.”
The nook features woven rattan chargers, red and white dishes, and pewter flatware. Its focal point is an arrangement bowl filled with red balls and ringed with greenery. More greenery is tucked inside the napkin rings.
“Our goal wasn’t to go overboard,” Tranter says. “It was to highlight the food.”
The food, all gluten-free, comes from Jessica Addams of DeLITEful Kitchen. Avocado toast with heirloom tomatoes, pea tendrils and everything-but-the-bagel seasoning will please those with savory taste buds, and the blueberry-pistachio oatmeal with chia seas, edible flowers and sprouts will satisfy the sweet tooths.
“It’s healthy,” Addams says. “It’s delicious. It’s pretty. People eat with their eyes.”
Turkey-sausage stuffing fills baked apples seasoned with sage and pecans. Cranberries and feta cheese flavor the roasted butternut squash. Garlic and bacon give the green beans flair.
“I just feel like Christmas is a time for everybody to be happy and come together and eat really good food and have quality time,” Addams says. “People can still eat really good food—healthy food—and not feel like they are.”
The welcome drink, served in a Champagne flute and garnished with pomegranate seeds, is a mixture of cider, Sambuca, seltzer, spiced rum and a splash of grenadine.
“It smells like Christmas,” Addams says. “It tastes like Christmas. I picked the ingredients that went well with the holiday theme and combined them. It was simple.”
Balance and Symmetry
The cabinetry, where the homeowner’s neatly stacked glassware is kept, received 10 topiary wreaths tied with red ribbons that are strikingly visible through the clear paneling. The result is balance and symmetry.
“The intent was an inviting environment without going over the top,” says Isabelle Miller, the fourth interior designer involved with the project. “The house and furnishings are already so lovely that we opted to complement the existing decor rather than overwhelm it. In the end, creating an elegant simplicity and allowing the home’s beauty to shine through was our goal.”
Get the Look:
China-Herend, Rothschild Bird Pattern
Chair Wreaths-Napa Home & Garden
Nests-Napa Home & Garden Garlands and Berries-NDI
Linens-Pine Cone Hill
Bay Florist and Events
Metal China Display Cabinets-DKI Inc.
Home & Garden
Arrangement Bowl-Napa Home & Garden
Napkin Rings-Samuel & Sons
Serving Pieces-Beatriz Ball
Red Ornaments-Napa Home & Garden
Silver Bells on Tree-Wallace
Kathy Sue Tranter
*A special thanks to Bob Schell from Wallcoverings by Bob Schell and Glenda Toney from Patty Downing Interiors