Designer: John Hinschberger, owner of JMH Designs, Mendota Heights (www.jmhinschbergerdesigns.com).
Holiday style: Old World, influenced by Hinschberger’s collection of vintage glass ornaments as well as the antique furnishings in his 1920s Tudor-style home. (He also infused more traditional character into his Mendota Heights house with decorative doors, reproduction light fixtures and textural plaster walls.) When decorating for the holidays, “use elements that work with your existing interiors,” he advised. He found many of his European antiques while on buying trips for Durr Ltd. in the late 1990s.
Start early: Hinschberger starts hanging ornaments on his artificial tree two weeks before Thanksgiving “or else it will never get done,” he said. That’s because he also does the holiday decorating in the houses of at least a dozen clients each year.
Heirloom ornaments: The several dozen European glass ornaments that grace his tree were passed down from his German great-grandparents and grandparents. “I always loved to decorate for the holidays as a child,” he said. “When I was 12, my mother let me take over.” When he grew up, his relatives gave him the boxes of ornaments, some of which dated back as far as the 1880s. “The ornaments carry on the tradition of Christmases past for my family,” he said.
Add ons: Over the years, Hinschberger supplemented his vintage ornaments with limited-edition fairy-tale characters from Poland, sparkly Santas by Christopher Radko and tiny birds he clips to branches. “When some of the relatives see my tree,” he said, “I think they are envious now.”
Trimming technique: Hinschberger hangs only shiny, reflective glass ornaments — there’s no plastic on his tree. He starts with the large ornaments at the bottom, working up the tree with smaller ones. He also tucks some ornaments inside the branches for “a layered effect.” The final flourish is a wired plaid ribbon he wraps around the tree like a present.
Welcome guests: Don’t forget your foyer. “It’s the first thing you see when you come in, and sets the tone for the rest of the house,” he said. He has a marble-topped entry table, on which he arranged faux greens, fruit-shaped glass ornaments and a scented candle around an antique French clock.
Santa’s little helpers: Hinschberger’s latest passion is elves, from cuddly stuffed versions to resin figures, which he displays throughout the house. “They add a bit of whimsy and feel like Christmas from when I was a kid,” he said.
Table tableau: On a sofa table, he displays vintage Christmas carol songbooks from his grandmother and antique Christmas cards. Fragrant fresh cedar boughs surround an antique silver tea service. “Since I don’t have a real tree, I use cedar for the scent,” he said.
Old World mantel: Hinschberger embellished the living-room fireplace with an ornate marble mantel. At Christmas time, he drapes it with garlands of intertwined faux cedar and spruce that puddle on the floor “so it looks full and lush,” he said. He wraps the garland with white twinkle lights and golden candle lights, then attaches different-size pine cones and a plaid ribbon that matches the ribbon on the nearby tree. “Repeat elements in a space to tie it all together,” he advised.
Silver and gold: Hinschberger mixes old (antique stemware, silver nut cups and butter pats) with new (gold chargers from Target) on his dining-room table set with classic Spode “Christmas Tree” china. For the centerpiece, a candle glows inside an antique glass hurricane hand-painted with a castle scene. It’s an easy, simple statement. “Just place a candle inside a favorite glass vessel, and surround it with fresh cedar for the table,” he said.