When you think of decorating an elegant century-old home for the holidays, pink is not the colour that instantly springs to mind. Especially when the home is packed with wood-panelled walls, elaborate moldings, fine furnishings and antiques. But this home went pink for Christmas to pump up the décor with a fresh, fun factor – and it worked perfectly.
The three-storey Rockcliffe Park home, built in 1913, was newly renovated when Sarah and James Baxter bought the property last year. “It’s not a particularly grand or formal house,” says Sarah who describes her family home as busy and chaotic with teenage twins (boy and a girl), an 11 year-old son and a 100-pound dog. “I wanted a cheeky holiday décor that reflected that,” she adds, noting that a pink Christmas makes for some great festive memories.
The Baxters had been renovating another vintage-era house in Rockcliffe Park two years ago with Ernst Hupel, co-owner of 2H Design, that burned down before they moved in. “We did a lot of work without actually having a product at the end of it,” recalls Sarah. So, she is pleased to share the success of her second collaboration with the designer, which involved painting out the home’s extensive millwork and many built-in features to bring a more contemporary-style unity to the rooms.
They opted for a dark, blue-grey on the dining-room walls, French doors and trim using the intriguing paint colour of Witching Hour by Benjamin Moore. It is carried through the house on interior doors and trim, which sets up a striking contrast with BM’s White Down in the living room, kitchen and entry. Both colours provided a wonderful canvas for the vivid pink theme of the holiday décor combined with bright greens, lilacs and metallic elements.
The Pink Team
Before the Baxters even moved into the house, they agreed to be on the 2016 tour for Homes for the Holidays. While Ernst and Sarah came up with the idea of a pink-accented holiday décor, they teamed up with the expertise of Karen Grand of Grand Expectations and florist Machiko of Ottawa Blooms to put the plan into action.
“Karen does big, beautiful arrangements and urns, and Machiko is very exquisite and generous with her flowers, notes Sarah. She adds that they not only wanted to support Hospice Care Ottawa, which the tour benefits, but also showcase the role of the professionals and volunteers who work on the homes. “They are all amazing - so kind and patient in their work, which is not always easy.”
Combining their talents, Karen created luscious green wreaths and boughs with colourful balls and fuchsia ribbons to hang on interior doors and windows, as well as a mini 12-inch Christmas tree; while Machiko worked with fresh flowers to bring in vibrant florals. She arranged
delicate orchids, pink roses, and lilies in silver vases with artistic flair, in addition to decorating a snowman with berries and protea for the kitchen.
Sarah added some of her own touches with ornaments that she has collected over the years, which included hanging pink balls from the kitchen chandelier for extra sparkle. Left to her own decorating devices, she admits she would probably not use as much pink, but loved getting away from the traditional red and green of the holidays.
“It was an inspiring experience and I might go with a light-blue holiday décor next time to match the exterior shutters. We’ve moved around quite a bit and I’m finding that every house is different, so I am getting better at deciding what works where – but I don’t want to be too serious with it.”
With a taste for dramatic colours in a stylish setting, plus a liking for fun and cheeky elements, Sarah will be dreaming of many more vibrant Christmases to come.
Spirited Holiday Décor
Karen Grand, of Grand Expectations and Machiko Iwakiri, of Ottawa Blooms combined their efforts with dazzling results. The unexpected use of hot pink and non-traditional blooms, like orchids transformed the traditional home into a vibrant backdrop for chic entertaining with a playful spirit.
Greenery in the form of wreaths, garlands and centrepieces add the traditional element. Baubles and bows in vibrant colours bring in the surprise element that makes the holiday season magical.