Design & Décor, Living with Style, The Newport Diary


A Downton Abbey-Inspired Christmas

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Photo Credit: Michelle Pugliese for Private Newport

Can you think of anything more glorious than reflecting back on your favorite scenes within this series that won our hearts…and then using those memories to inspire your own Christmas tree and decorations throughout your home? This was our Christmas 2018 and I’d love to share it with you. Now having seen the movie, I feel this tree is even more relevant as a subject for a post.

For the romantic that I am, there was no doubt as to which Downton Abbey memory I would choose. I can recall it so vividly. By the end of season two, the “Christmas Special,” Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley were finally engaged. The very last scene closed as they were kissing, with snow softly falling around them. Of course, my overall theme for this Downton Abbey-inspired Christmas was gold, gilt and lots of it. And no where was that more apparent than on the tree, the centerpiece of the house.

But with Lady Mary and Matthew’s scene in mind, I added a gracious plenty of crystal icicles — multiples of them dripping from the tips of every branch. Beaded snowflakes, of every size, shape and pattern appeared throughout and among all the branches, their sparkle reflected in the gold balls. Gold lace-sequined ribbons were woven throughout the 12′ tree to recall Lady Mary’s gorgeous party dresses or the Dowager Duchess’s attire for a black tie dinner.

Julian Fellowes, the writer and producer of Downton Abbey, has such a gift for details that I was impassioned to honor his talent. In addition to gold and gilt, candles were everywhere — welcoming guests coming up the limestone steps to the front door…

Photo Credit: Michelle Pugliese for Private Newport

lining the curved stairwell in the entry hall…

Photo Credit: Michelle Pugliese for Private Newport

and lighting the salon mantel atop gold-veined “marble” columns.

Gilded paper maché Florentine angels held up the evergreen garland that “puddled” on the floor, enwrapping yet more candles.

Photo Credit: Michelle Pugliese for Private Newport

Even pillar candles were etched in gold (a special find!).

As the evergreen tree is so much a part of any Christmas story, I wanted to close this post with a little anecdote about ours. At the sheetrocking stage of our building process, I chanced to come over earlier than usual one morning. There in the sunroom ceiling was this beautiful bell-shaped opening…the underside of the copper dome off the master bath. I gasped (in delight) and one of the carpenters hurried over to assure me that it would be sheetrocked over. “Oh no!” I exclaimed, “I love it!”

Had I not been there early that morning, the finished ceiling would have been flat and I would never have known that this “alcove” existed. It is this detail which makes it possible for a 12′ to 14′ tree to gracefully disappear into the ceiling, its gold star at the top to be revealed as you walk closer and closer. At Christmastime, this room takes on an even more elegant mood as other furniture is removed and the tree stands as a sentinel in the wide bay window, the star of the room and the heart of our home.

Cherish your tree trimming moments…

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

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".

7 thoughts on “A Downton Abbey-Inspired Christmas

  1. Well you certainly achieved your goal! Everything is lovely. I especially like how you puddled the garland. Your tree was gorgeous. The stairs looked beautiful with the candlelit accents! The entryway was stunning- what a fantastic display as you enter your home!

    1. Liz, thank you so much for your lovely comment…and I’m so happy to have you part of my Private Newport family!
      Have a merry, jolly Christmas, xB

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