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A New Coffee-Table Book Inspires Christmas Creativity

“Christmas by Design” is the perfect present to give or to get.

A celebration of dazzling holiday decor, distinctive interior design and breathtaking architecture, “Christmas by Design: Private Homes Decorated by Leading Designers” (Schiffer Publishing) by Patricia Hart McMillan and Katharine Kaye McMillan, is a coffee table book with a local connection. Three of the homes featured on its pages—and shared on ours—were created by Scottsdale architect Mark Candelaria of Candelaria Design. “I marvel at the level of detail and customization my clients infuse into their homes at this delightful time of year,” he says. “Their homes speak of their love for capturing the memories, history and delight of Christmastime.”

With decor styles spanning traditional to new-classical to tropical and beyond, every residence bursts with festive color, glittering nuance and charming seasonal detail. Written by the designers who created the holiday aesthetics, the text for each home includes tips and tricks that take what you see from daunting to doable.

As a gift for yourself or for a kindred spirit who shares your love of decking the halls, “Christmas by Design” is a joyous source of inspiration that celebrates the wonderment of the season. $45 (

Inspired by Italian villages, the hillside home of Bob and Mary Ellen Gawlik evokes traditions inside and out. “We choose the traditional cozy colors of Christmas—red and green—plus gold that adds warmth and brightness,” says Mary Ellen. A red ribbon tree topper in the family room, for instance, echoes the cherry color of the sofa and Asian rug.

At one end of the living room, a fully equipped bar room is perfect for holiday entertaining. Mary Ellen says of the festive decor: “When decorating for the holidays, Bob and I just try to maintain the style and feel of our home.”

Nancy Hanley’s residence was designed by Candelaria for entertaining—whether for casual family weekends, a grand fete for a local charity or the Christmas holiday. The living room’s soaring ceilings easily accommodate a 10-foot-tall tree bedecked in ribbons and ornaments of gold, red and burgundy and its massive fireplace mantel proudly displays custom needlepoint stockings for grandchildren.

“I select the Christmas decor for every room and plan a style and look for each of the seven trees,” says Nancy. In her breakfast room, a tree is laden with ornament collections from Christopher Radko, MacKenzie-Childs and Patricia Breen. Evergreen garlands festooned with colorful fruits embellish the chandelier; the top of a nearby chest, and the table’s centerpiece and are a fitting choice for the charming space.

The Mediterranean-style home created by Candelaria for Jonathan and Laurie Hunter is a perfect foil for dressy holiday finery. “Decorating my stairs and fireplaces is a must,” says Laurie. “I lavish them with garlands of an assortment of winter greenery and magnolia, along with tons of heavy, wired velvet ribbon.” The dazzling entry beguiles visitors through the home’s large glass double front doors—left unadorned so as not to obstruct views of the beauty inside.

Matching chandeliers in the breakfast room are given a festive crown of seasonal garlands to ready the space for family brunches and other holiday gatherings. Unlike other nearby rooms where the look is formal, this casual addition of evergreens is all that’s necessary to enhance the classic European architecture and furnishings and muted color palette.


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