Feature > All Decked Out for the Holidays

Holiday decorating enthusiasts rejoice! Prepare to be inspired for decking out your halls in seasonal splendor. A unique fundraising event—hosted by the Zonta Club of the Lakes Region—unites colorful and creative crafts from nearly sixty of the region’s top artisans with the interior design expertise of some of the best local award-winning designers and decorators.

Entering its seventeenth year, the Zonta Holiday House has evolved into a highly anticipated, and financially successful, three-day November event that raises funds to support dozens of local and regional nonprofit groups and provide scholarships, most of which benefit women and children.

“It just grew bigger and bigger,” Menard says about the evolution of Holiday House. Lynch adds that a lot of people start their holiday shopping at Holiday House, which falls on the weekend before Thanksgiving. In addition to all crafters’ items being up for sale, Zonta sets up a separate “shop” within the home to sell a wide assortments of crafts, candles, art and some furnishings.

This year’s Zonta Holiday House co-chairs, Gail Menard and Sally Lynch, say the popular event that drew one thousand visitors in one weekend last year takes a year to organize. Many guests plan their holiday shopping around the festival.

Master Suite

In 2007, Holiday House was held at a renovated Victorian beach cottage at Weirs Beach, where designers either chose or were assigned their project rooms, and then selected from among hundreds of individual pieces of arts and crafts, quilts, dolls and Christmas-themed folk art to dress up the space.

Designers utilized the home’s existing color scheme—hues of sage in the bedroom and living room; a yellow/gold in the master bathroom and kitchen; a touch of cinnamon paint in the kitchen—and brought in some new pieces, such as area rugs and larger furniture, from their own shops and collections.
Award-winning interior designer Lori Currier of Lori Currier Interiors in Laconia, who chose the master bedroom and bathroom suite to embellish, says she drew her inspiration from the antique, white-painted bedroom furniture as well as the its sage walls and neutral-toned carpet.

“I was inspired by the creams of the bed and the golds in the bedroom. The base colors were solid, not prints, so I brought in accents; you can do anything with a neutral palette,” says Currier, who has worked with Zonta Holiday House for eight years.

To dress up the bed, Currier used French vanilla- toned bed linens and introduced additional color with the throw pillows—a deep red embroidered pillow with a Christmas tree motif, and another with a gold gingham frill. Cut-glass bedside table lamps in the bedroom and the bathroom add some winter “sparkle,” Currier adds.

In the classic Victorian master bathroom, which featured pedestal his-and-hers sinks and a claw-footed bathtub, Currier added a jewelry chest with hand-painted roses in colors that complemented the jonquiltoned paint and the red velvet chair. To soften up the existing window treatment—white mini-blinds—Currier chose a white lace valance. Inspired by the golds and silvers of the bathroom fixtures, Currier hung a wreath with silver and gold balls. Her goal was to draw upon what was already in the room for inspiration—whether the wall coloring or the metals in the fixtures—for a relaxed approach to holiday decorating.

Living and Sitting Room

Marcia Cotter of Decorative Interiors of Laconia designed the living room and a sitting room, which featured a massive stone fireplace with built-in shelves. Cotter had help from her daughter, Stephanie Wentworth, who earned her master’s degree in interior design.

“We tried to relate to the existing colors and upholstery. The house had nice, warm gold walls, accents of green and cinnamon. Some colors were easy to blend,” Cotter says.

Her approach to introducing holiday decorations and crafts into the room—without making it look like a storefront window—was to start with the larger elements. “I added some rugs where there were none to pull in different colors; I pulled in browns and cinnamons, and some of the reds in a rusty tones rather than the traditional color palette of bright red and green,” Cotter says, adding that she also drew inspiration from the rooms’ off-white cabinet and bead board.

Large spaces called for larger decorative items—a holiday tree here and a piece of folk art there, or a decorated sled or pair of antique skis to fill up an empty wall or corner. The built-in shelves in the enormous stone fireplace provided a natural stage for decorative items, such as a pair of hand-carved bears as well as a hand-painted bucket filled with a floral arrangement and pinecones.

“It’s fun, and it’s so great to have all those decorations in one space. You can pull whatever you want into the room,” Cotter says.

As for her holiday decorating philosophy, she advises not to get too caught up in trends or worried about color schemes.

“Christmas decorations are only there for a month. Work with what you have,” Cot- Resources ter says, adding that you can introduce sentimental, traditional ornaments on your holiday tree and that everything doesn’t have to match.

“It’s all about family gatherings, and if it’s going to make you feel good, it should be used,” she adds.

Dining Area

Antiques dealer and decorator Bob Shay of RMS Design Consultants in Laconia embellished the dining area with craftwork as well as select pieces from his own collection from Pepi Herrmann Crystal in Gilford.

Shay arranged crystal stemware in the home’s built-in china cabinet, and set an elegant, formal table complete with antique silver and fingerbowls.

Involved with the Holiday House project for about five years now, Shay says his design approach to embellishing the dining room was to go for visual impact.

“When you walk through the double doors in to the house, the dining room is straight ahead,” he says. “I wanted to pick out something that said, ‘Wow!’” So he set a huge centerpiece with birds and flowers. “The dining room was not quite ‘country’ décor—it was ‘lake-house elegance,’” Shay says, adding that anyone can embellish his or her home for the holidays without overdoing it.

“Try to mix the old and the new, “ he suggests.

One decorating lesson learned from a tour of a Zonta Holiday House is to work with a home’s existing personality and color palette. And with the riches of crafts available for purchase during the event, visitors will be certain to find decorations—and inspiration— for any corner of their homes.

Zonta Holiday House 2008

Kick off the holiday shopping season with a tour of the 2008 Zonta Holiday House—an expansive eleven-thousand-square-foot Craftsman-style home on two hundred acres on Piper Mountain in Gilford.

Piper Mountain Estate—with its incredible views and outstanding craftsmanship— redefines breathtaking, according to organizers of this year’s seventeenth annual event.

This is Zonta’s largest Holiday House to date, with views ranging from Vermont to Mount Washington and the lakes in between. From this estate, owned by Dwight and Marjie Barton, fireworks from ten towns can be seen on the Fourth of July. The home’s list of amenities includes eighteen rooms; eleven gas fireplaces; an indoor pool; a home theater with a 133-inch screen; a sauna, steam and exercise room; and a 350-gallon fish tank.

“The houses get bigger and bigger,” says Gail Menard, who co-chairs this year’s Holiday House event with Sally Lynch.

Holiday House kicks off this year on Friday, November 21, with the Barton Private Preview Party at the estate from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $50 per person and include a tour, champagne, red and white wines, and refreshments. For tickets, call 524-2224.

The open Holiday House continues Saturday, November 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, November 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $10. While there’s no parking at the residence, there will be a free shuttle from the Gilford Town Hall on Route 11A, where free parking is available.

For more information, visit www.zontadistrict1.org.