FOR MANY OF US, DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS INVOLVES ONLY A FEW SIMPLE AND TIME-WORN TRADITIONS, STARTING WITH HAULING IN FLIMSY CARDBOARD BOXES PACKED WITH FAMILIAR ORNAMENTS FROM THE GARAGE OR ATTIC.
Then it’s time to wrestle the tree into position (nope, a little more to the left), untangle strings of lights and then bemoan the inexplicable absence of extension cords.
Not so for Kim and David McPhail of Wexford Plantation, who devised a different plan of attack to celebrate their first official Christmas on Hilton Head. The recent transplants from Charlotte hired a well-known North Carolina designer to transform their luxurious 8,000-square-foot home into a holiday shrine with a theme befitting their new island digs. And there won’t be an infla - able Santa or plastic snowman in sight.
“We wanted to do something that reflects the feeling of living on Hilton Head,” said lead designer Deborah Bell, a long-time family friend and owner of Deborah Bell and Company. “That means combining natural elements with a sense of timeless elegance and a bit of sparkle and shine.”
Balls of Spanish moss blend with pine cones, hanging crystals and pearls in handmade decorations that adorn several rooms of the two-story home which features a subtle color scheme of pale aqua and green tones. There are no garish flashing lights on the exterior of the Wexford Drive abode built by Mark Creamer Palatial Homes, Bell stressed, opting instead for lowkey lanterns and urns filled with bamboo, cascading pine boughs and other natural elements.
“The outside will be an invitation to come inside where you’ll experience the real ‘wow factor,’” she said. “We want it to be unexpected and surpass people’s expectations … it’s a grand home and each room will have its own personality.”
Decorations extend from the foyer to the kitchen, downstairs powder room, office and even the family wine vault.
A central (artificial) tree in the living room brings the diverse design elements together, along with temporary columns that are monogrammed and decked with ribbons and broaches to add texture and dimension. A second tree upstairs near a theatre room features old-world family heirloom ornaments and only the office features a more traditional color scheme of red and silver. A central fireplace hosts deer antlers, red ribbons and pine boughs for added impact.
“We’re excited about living in Wexford and we wanted to thank all the people who have been so nice to us,” said Kim McPhail, who will be inviting about 100 fellow residents to a Christmas season cocktail party and reception to show off Bell’s novel design concept. “I’ve always been a big enthusiast when it comes to decorating for Christmas but this home was on a bigger scale than anything I’d done before so I needed a professional like Deborah who wanted to do something different.”
She’s thrilled with how the design took shape – “it will be elegant and formal and match the softer palette of the home” – and offered praise for Bell’s intriguing concept of combining natural island elements with an understated touch of contemporary elegance. The two women have been friends for years and in their spare time share a commitment to charities supporting animal rights.
The McPhails, who began moving into their pristine new home last August, will also be celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary as well as several family birthdays during the holiday season. They expect this to be their most memorable Christmas to date.
Bell and her design team, which also specializes in receptions and parties for an upscale clientele, traveled to Hilton Head in mid-November and spent several days putting the elaborate theme together. And she has some recommendations for those of us not privy to a five-figur priced decorating budget.
“There’s a big difference between (professional) home decorating and doing it yourself,” she said. “I think it’s important to put your Christmas things together in collections as opposed to spreading them out all over the house because then they lose both depth and impact.
“Make sure your ribbons are fluffed out for extra dimension, and please makes sure all of the price tags are cut off the lights and decorations,” she added. “Keep it simple when you’re doing your own thing … there should be a little Christmas everywhere.
“The house should be wearing Christmas, not Christmas wearing the house.”
EYE FOR DESIGN
Deborah Bell & Company specializes in providing clients with customized designs that match their unique vision. Whether you’re saying “I do” or hosting a local or destination event, her team pushes the envelope with artistically illustrated designs through accessories, flowers, lighting and linens. For more information, call 704-560-2304.