WRITER Robin Amster
PHOTOGRAPHER Peter Rymwid
DESIGNER Valerie Grant
The holidays present homeowners with a great opportunity to fashion a festive décor that’s fun, playful and “takes risks that you may not necessarily want to live with in your everyday life,” says Valerie Grant, principal of Summit-based Valerie Grant Interiors.
The designer artfully follows that principle for the holiday décor in her own Summit home. But she combines it with another principle: “It’s also important to stay true to the style of the home,” Grant says. “Holiday décor should be an extension of what’s already there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and push things farther.”
Grant’s home has classic English Country architecture with interior spaces that mix traditional style with modern updates. Whether it’s finishes, fabrics or furniture, the designer looks for opportunities to modernize. In the living room, for example, a coffee table with a Lucite base, antique brass corner detail and glass top sits between a sofa reupholstered in ecru chenille and a newer velvet settee whose frame has an antiqued silver finish. Above the coffee table is a custom drum pendant made of mica strips.
In the dining room a 19th century Danish Neoclassic mahogany table is paired with newer, sleek mahogany chairs upholstered in gray wool sateen. A server with doors of gray leather and a gray marble top is flanked by cut-velvet side chairs in a contemporary chevron pattern in shades of gray and black. Walls of graphite Venetian plaster with metallic powders form the backdrop.
Before turning to a career in interior design, Grant worked in fashion for 15 years as a senior merchandiser with storied brands such as Ralph Lauren, Prada, Coach and J. Crew. The “frivolity and opulence” of these companies’ holiday window displays inspired her to add a glam element in all of her own holiday designs.
She translates that inspiration into holiday décor such as a faux fur throw and ostrich feather pillow on one of the living room sofas, small Christmas trees made of ostrich feathers on the fireplace mantel and, on the coffee table, a reindeer that sports a faux fur scarf for a touch of whimsy. The Christmas tree in the living room is adorned with white lights and tinsel, but it’s pared back and elegant.
Grant amplified the more luxurious elements of holiday design in the formal rooms—the living room and dining room—while choosing “rustic modern” holiday décor in the family room to reflect the rustic-leaning “luxurious lodge” design of that space. The family room Christmas tree, for example, is dressed in a collection of feathered, metallic and gold spindle ornaments. The family room also includes a tiny twig garland spray-painted gold on the fireplace mantel, a birch bark wreath suspended over the mirror atop the fireplace and small Christmas trees made of “snow”-covered pinecones flanking the fireplace.
Robin Amster, a regular contributor to Design NJ, is a Madison-based writer and editor.