From the December 2017/January 2018 Issue  

All Decked Out

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Marisa Pellegrini  |  Designer Milena Eror  |  Location Mahwah, NJ
  • GREAT ROOM | In the double-story great room, holiday décor in wine, olive and copper draw from the room’s palette and scale. “Decorations had to be substantial enough to even be noticed,” designer Milena Eror says. Brown glitter pinecones that measure over a foot long, sizable gold byzantine ornaments, grand peonies, gold berry sprays and fleur-de-lis are among the lush embellishments nestled into the tree and mantel. “Feather elements at the top of the tree and two feather boas sweep across a pinecone mantel garland for unexpected drama and unique texture.”

  • FOCAL POINTS | It’s important to create focal points on the tree “so the eye reads the story rather than trying to process a buffet of items,” the designer says.

  • WREATHS | “I love mixing different greens and textures to make standard base wreaths dynamic,” designer Milena Eror says. Here she combined pine boughs, a textural red vine, crimson-colored hydrangea and gold glitter spray to a base made of faux long-needle pine. Custom bows are “rigid enough to maintain their shape in the elements.”

  • FOYER | Swags of full and decadent garlands on the foyer’s wrought iron staircase incorporate nine different elements woven together by hand to customize the look: two types of cedar garlands, a variety of flowers and jeweled pomegranates. “Glass grape bunches offer up a touch of opulence, while open pierced ornaments add relief,” Eror says.

  • KITCHEN STAIRCASE | Two types of cedar vines entwine a burgundy and green floral garland on the kitchen staircase. Father Christmas and Three French Hens — collec­tibles from Katherine’s Collection — add whimsy and movement. A tapestry stocking, tassels, bells and custom mesh bows complete the look. Thanks to strategic wiring, “no spiraling greens around the banister means the clients get full use of the handrail,” Milena Eror says.

  • BREAKFAST ROOM | Draped greenery on the silk window treatments and chandelier bring good tidings to a breakfast room off the kitchen. The classic floral arrangement is changed seasonally.

  • FAUX REAL | A natural looking combination of greens surrounding a terrarium adds winter flair to a tabletop without the glitter, the designer says.

  • POWDER ROOM | “Powder rooms are a terrific place to have fun with color,” Eror says. She indulged the owner’s love of red. On the mirror, a pine garland is draped over an upside-down glittered cone securing red orchids and roses, winter greens and festive decorations in an offset two-piece design.

Seasonal flourishes play up the scale and color scheme of a grand Bergen County home

The holidays can be magical, but they often come with a long list of obligations or to-do’s: shopping, running errands, traveling and entertaining. Creating that holiday magic at home may only add to the hustle and bustle. For homeowners short on time or energy or who need to focus on other pursuits, design professionals can ease that stress, add a special flair and tend to the tiniest details.

In addition to designing the interior of an upscale Mahwah residence, Milena Eror of Ivanka’s Home in Wyckoff, New Jersey, had the pleasure of returning three years running to plan the holiday design scheme around the home’s Old World aesthetic, warm wood textures and lush fabrics. Each year, “we may add a thing or two or tweak a theme,” the designer says.

From conception to completion, this project took Eror and her team roughly three to four days to complete the first year. “Each length of the foyer banister garland has nine different elements woven together by hand to customize the look and add a particular flavor,” she says. Because everything is secured and numbered, “there’s less fuss in subsequent years, thanks to the dismantling service at the end of the season.”

The vast double-story great room required furniture fit to scale. In the same manner, the holiday decorations had to be substantial enough to even be noticed there, in the grand foyer and elsewhere. “Small, delicate ornaments or wimpy greens would get lost,” Eror says. She uses high-quality greenery that appears lifelike. “It lasts, doesn’t shed and you don’t have to be redoing your work if you use good quality in the first place.”

Warm, muted tones of amber, chocolate and rust in the great room inspired the holiday décor in a combination of wine, olive and copper tones: a departure from a more typical holiday palette of red and green. “I like to let the room’s color scheme dictate where I want to go with the holiday décor, Eror says. It makes for a more cohesive design and allows you to have different themes throughout a home, which keeps it interesting as you meander.”

If the family hosts both Thanksgiving and Christmas, the designer will either tailor a look that can suit both or do the decorating in phases, adding Christmas-specific items later in the season. “It’s nice to have a festive space for guests, but my clients really look forward to enjoying it all season,” says Eror, who offers personal trunk shows to preview this year’s collection of exclusive greens, ornaments and custom bows.

Holiday Design Tips from Milena Eror

Pick one area that you want to decorate to the nines, such as a hallway banister, and do it well. Dress the garlands before you hang them. Put an individual strand of lights on last and get a remote control to light up different decorations with the click of a button.

Ditch the ribbon — go with bows. Weaving ribbon through a tree is probably the most time-consuming task that rarely ends well, and you can’t reuse it the following year because it looks like a 1980s crimped hairstyle. I custom make my bows and incorporate them as focal points in trees, banisters and wreaths. If you store them lightly in a rigid box, they’ll have shape and bounce for years.

Don’t make it look like Father Christmas sneezed his spirit everywhere in your house. Create focal points. Do them well. And then stop.

Consider using magnolias or burgundy hydrangea instead of more generic red poinsettias.

Steer clear of the dreaded “sampler” tree. It’s great to pick up single decorations here and there, but if you want to make an impact, commit to a color palette and incorporate enough of each ornament to create repetition. This gives the tree unique style and the ability for you to feature a different design scheme in an adjoining room. If you have sentimental ornaments, place them prominently after giving the tree its signature style.

Take your time to dismantle and note or label everything. Leave the jamming to your favorite band and don’t overstuff your boxes. I like the long tree boxes from The Container Store for storing banister garlands. (No more than two per box!)