Designer Sandy LaMendola of Twist Interior Design decks her home for the holidays guided by the spirit and soul of her house, as well as a “less is more” attitude.
LaMendola and her husband, Charlie Simmons, also an interior designer, live in a gracious 1929 French Burgundy Tudor in St. Paul.
Her muted, organic-themed holiday trimmings, adorning a real aromatic Fraser fir, complement the Old World plaster walls, rope trim and overall architectural style. But you won’t find shiny red and green balls, snowmen or anything “overtly Christmas, ” she said.
Instead, she gathers earthy elements, from wispy paper feathers to golden snowflakes, layering them on the living-room tree and other spaces in the home.
“Repetition makes it easy,” she said, embracing a simple design scheme, while staying as chill as her cat napping under the fabulously festive tree.
“Just relax and have a glass of wine while doing it,” she added.
Designer: Sandy LaMendola, principal designer and founder of Twist Interior Design, 612-338-1588, twistinterior.com.
Holiday style: Upstairs is a calm color scheme of merlot, olive, black and matte mixed metals. She mingles nostalgic family heirlooms with surprising elements, such as Fabergé-style egg ornaments. Downstairs, she decorates a whimsical brightly colored kids’ tree.
A tree of beauty: Use fewer than a dozen different elements, and layer each element one at a time, suggests LaMendola. For example, hang all the gold snowflakes spaced out on the tree, then move on to the next element.
Choose ornaments of different shapes, sizes and finishes for “visual complexity,” she said. Stand back and make sure it looks balanced. To fill in open spaces, tuck in berry branch picks. If you see a bin of ornaments you like, “buy as many as you can,” she said.
Minimalist mantel: “A tree is enough for me,” said LaMendola. “I don’t need to load up the mantel.” Instead, she displays a solitary heirloom velvet Santa next to her year-round mantel accessories.
Fabric enhancers: LaMendola repurposes drapery fabric, tablecloths and throws as warm finishing touches to vignettes. For example, she gathered merlot-hued silk taffeta, left over from her window treatments, around the base of the Christmas tree.
Set the mood: Even for the holidays, the elegant dining room echoes the home’s Asian-aesthetic interiors. The black, silver and gold color scheme is repeated in the floral design of her vintage set of dishes from England. The woven rattan placemats serve as a neutral backdrop.
LaMendola placed olive green tapers inside two heirloom silver candelabras at the end of the table. “I love green as a neutral that goes with everything,” she said.
Copy this simple centerpiece: LaMendola has saved jumbo pine cones gathered on walks with her children more than a decade ago. She groups them together in a pewter footed bowl and nestles three blue-gold-silver ball ornaments among the pine cones. “It’s a nice contrast of shiny with the textured organic,” she said.
Illuminating window seat: To create the vignette, arrange an assortment of white and cream candles of different heights and sizes. As the centerpiece, LaMendola placed ice crystal branches and curly willow in a mercury-glass vase. Lastly, she gathered several throws around the base of the candles.
Festive kitchen display: LaMendola bought three silver beaded chains from the hardware store, and attached them to old drapery hooks in the window. Then she hung an assortment of nostalgic ornaments that the couple have saved — “orphans from when Charlie and I grew up,” she said.
Bring the outdoors in: A coffee-table centerpiece, designed by Tangletown Gardens in south Minneapolis, mingles fragrant greens, magnolia leaves and eucalyptus inside a black pedestal bowl. LaMendola eschews the traditional red poinsettia for a white amaryllis sprouting from the center.
Storybook Christmas tree: Charlie Simmons created a Scottish-themed basement pub to honor his heritage. The “pub” tree is packed with a menagerie of fabric ornaments depicting “The Three Little Pigs” and other storybook characters. LaMendola bought them from Arts & Flowers to give to her children each year. Even though the kids are now adults, “they come home to help decorate and remember each one,” she said.
Want to do it again next year? Snap a photo of the Christmas tree and other vignettes, and store with decorations to make it easy to replicate.