The house: A 1910-built bungalow-style cottage in Wayzata. This is Penfield’s first holiday season in the home, the main rooms of which had been painted deep red and Tuscan gold. Soon after moving in, she repainted in “gallery white,” which made a perfect backdrop for her colorful modern artwork — and her fresh, offbeat holiday decor.
Her holiday look: “Spunky, modern and a little funky,” she described it. To achieve that spirited look, Penfield mixed vintage pieces with contemporary ones, and refreshed traditional holiday motifs with unexpected materials and objects from other cultures. “I love the global inspiration,” she said. “What’s fascinating to me is that Christmas has that legacy, you want to bring out the old, but it’s also an opportunity to explore and break from tradition to come up with something fun and new.”
Updated palette: Penfield tweaks the traditional Christmas color scheme of red and green by pairing a lighter “pinky-red” with lime. Darker reds and greens can feel somber, she said, while the fresher green reminds her of new buds in springtime. “This is a little more flirty and fun.”
Festive table: Penfield set her dining room table for a cozy family Christmas Eve dinner. “I love entertaining, and I’m crazy for tabletop,” she said. “It’s fun mixing high and low” — a classic modern Knoll table with everyday pieces she had on hand. The lime-green place mats were purchased for a Tahitian-theme party, while the red Lucite-handled flatware was from a July 4th celebration. Penfield added festive holiday plates, vintage gold-trimmed cordial glasses and Moroccan napkin rings embellished with a modern take on a Christmas tree. At each place setting is a tiny hinged silver box shaped like a wrapped gift. She uses them for tucking in party favors or the names of guests to select holiday gifts.
Garlands with a global twist: Instead of traditional evergreen garlands, Penfield enlivens her interiors with distinctive alternatives: a length of multicolored Tibetan thread bobbins draped over a chair, strings of bright paper tassels hung from the plate rail in her dining room.
A bit of bling: To give her everyday decor festive flair, Penfield draped glittery beads around her modern antler chandelier as well as around the neck of a seated Buddha figure. Her fireplace mantel is decorated with simple, modern Christmas trees made of mercury glass — an example of “taking old materials and making them fresh, not so frumpy,” she said.
Raising the bar: Penfield’s living and dining rooms hold two festive holiday bar vignettes. One, set up on a modern console, features vintage barware and a white ceramic deer head with glittery gold branches as antlers. On the other, set on a waterfall-shaped plexiglass table, are decorative bottles displayed with plenty of space around them, like works of art. “Everything floats on it,” she said of the transparent tabletop.
Curate your collectibles: When working with clients, Penfield looks for fresh ways to use holiday decor they own. One recent client wanted to display a traditional Department 56 Christmas village, so Penfield set it on a bar and added unusual barware and an unexpected red-and-turquoise color scheme. “We gave it a new twist,” she said. You can give your own holiday tree a fresh look by being selective with ornaments. “Pick two colors, and just edit from the box,” she said.