Design & Décor, Holiday, Seasonal, The Newport Diary, Winter

8 Creative Ways to Enhance your Decor with a Christmas Tree

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The Preservation Society’s Newport mansions provide a gracious plenty of thought-provoking ideas for decorating this Holiday season. With trees in almost every room, there is inspiration galore. And while the mansions might seem imposing in their scale, many of the ideas here translate beautifully to smaller spaces. So in many ways this post is about dreaming what could be! What I’m talking about is not decorating your tree but about decorating with your tree. In fact, you’ll find yourself surprised at just how many of the following ideas can add a festive note to your home at Christmas.

I chose the feature image because the dining room (here, at Marble House) is the second most likely spot for a tree (or second tree). I’m always a bit surprised that more people don’t include a tree in their dining scene. Between a Holiday party and Christmas dinners, a home’s dining room provides many reasons to include the beauty of a tree. Nestled in the corner, it doesn’t take up much space but offers the welcome aroma of fir and twinkling lights to remind you that this is a time of celebration.

While we’re at Marble House, I’ll point out another singular use that plays up the advantage of a Christmas tree…in their entry hall a tree is placed in the “crook” of the stairwell to be seen not just as you enter but as you proceed up the marble stairs.

And then can be viewed again looking down on it from the halls above. So now, one has seen this gorgeous tree from three different vantage points.

The placement of a tree is also another opportunity to break out of your holiday decorating complacency. Have you ever consdiered placing a tree in the center of a room (handsomely shown off in the Gothiic Room at Marble House)? With the fireplace on one side, a refrectory table at the entrance side, and sofas and chair groupings on the two other sides the tree indeed becomes part of the evening and certainly a party.

Taking this note a step further, let’s turn up the drama! With a room mirrored for effect (here, the Music Room at The Breakers) why not place your tree in a mirrored alcove where its bejeweled beauty can be multiplied (no wonder “The Gilded Age” series chose this room to be the ballroom and site of a waltzing evening at the end of the first series).

Since this post is turning into a love fest for a Christmas tree, I’ll suggest that you consider not one, but two trees as the Preservation Society does at The Breakers Great Hall. Given the space, you have to admit it’s creative and inviting.

Photo Credit: Vibrant Optics for Private Newport

Speaking of halls, when you enter the Elms you go up a few steps to a hall running the length of the house. As you turn left to proceed on the tour, a brilliantly decorated tree is to be seen in a small parlor at the end…”framed” by the elegant marble doorway and plaster work above the door. The Christmas tree is a subtle note that catches your attention because it is so unexpected.

I particularly enjoyed a note at the Elms that suited me to a “T,” given my affection for this afternoon ritual. A vignette had been created with an elegant tea service set upon a French side table in front of the fireplace. The tree was perfectly adorned with Renaissance angel ornaments (recalling those at the Metropolitan Museum in New York), their full skirts in a range of pastels that drew my attention to the firescreen. This scene reminded me that the last resident was Miss Julia Berwind, niece of the coal baron, Edward Julius Berwind, who built the Elms in 1901.

The Elms also enjoys a note of whimsy upstairs in one of the childrens’ rooms…which is so charming, decorated with toys and surrounded by almost lifesize stuffed animals. Can you now not resist creating a smaller version for your child’s bedroom?

Photo Credit: Vibrant Optics for Private Newport

I hope I’ve inspired you to look at your home with a new eye this season, adding a bit more magic to your surroundings. Are there places you haven’t considered for a Christmas tree? The 25th is almost upon us.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

12 thoughts on “8 Creative Ways to Enhance your Decor with a Christmas Tree

  1. Bettie, another beautiful posting . And, of course, the tea vignette was a lovely addition to share at Christmas time. May your holidays be merry and bright.

    1. I was so tempted to suggest that the PSNC have a tea party with that divine set…Happy Holidays to you and yours, xB

  2. What I wouldn’t have given to take tea with you beside that angel tree in The Elms. Every one of the trees in this post is an inspiration-perhaps another book?

    1. Oh Yes, dear Ruthie…and we don’t have to go to London (thought it’s an option I love, as you know..)xxB





  4. Enchanting, each and every one…. tea beside the Angel Tree….
    can you imagine what a treat to be poured from that set… The
    Children’s tree would be mesmerizing to little ones, to be
    certain. Thank you, Bettie, for this lovely Christmas delicacy…..

    1. Are you inspired? Have you found a spot for one more tree!!? They are a “lovely Christmas delicacy.”

  5. Yes, Tea! Whilst I romantize ….Beautiful firescreen. Tree is decorated beautiful reflecting the firescreen depicting an angel serenading.

  6. Dear Bettie, Thank you for your gala of Christmas Trees in Newport. A joy to see, knowing how many nice folks contributed time to decorate and for you to share the Spirit. Glad tidings…Bonny

  7. Please invite me to your “Tree Extravaganza” viewing ANY time or place!! Isn’t this FUN!!! Ornament Overload is my new mantra! franki

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