Two Pittsburgh homes celebrate the season inside and out
A popular holiday tradition is underway here in Pittsburgh, and across the country. Families, young and old, are piling into their cars at dusk and driving through neighborhood after neighborhood, marveling at all the homes lit up for the season. As soon as you find your favorite house, you automatically begin to wonder and imagine what lies behind the front door. Luckily, we found two Pittsburgh families kind enough to open their garland-wrapped front doors to give us a peek into their holiday worlds.
Here comes Santa Claus
Santa’s sleigh, filled with gifts, and characters from The Nutcracker greet family, friends and passersby in front of Kirk and Fran Stephen’s Sewickley home. The couple got into the holiday decorating spirit shortly after moving into their French-country home in 2004. They enlisted the expertise of interior designer Karolyn Spagnolo to help them create their winter wonderland. “Karolyn was our interior designer when we first moved in,” says Fran. “Since she knew our tastes it was only natural to have her help us decorate our home for the holidays.”
Spagnolo suggested creating the custom sleigh, which rests on metal runners and boasts a vinyl seat and lanterns. “The toys and packages are waterproof and anchored down so they don’t blow away,” she adds.
The front porch is draped with dramatic garland accented with glistening white lights, rich red ribbon, ornaments and strands of beads. “Coming home at night is a treat,” Fran says. “Pulling into the driveway and seeing the house lit up is just beautiful.”
The front door opens to reveal a foyer packed with wrapped packages surrounding a large Santa Claus statue. Garland incorporating greenery and red and gold ribbon is draped along the staircase railing and across the balcony. Spagnolo says the foyer is one of the most important areas when it comes to holiday decorating and sets the tone for the rest of your home during the holidays. Fran recalls the first year Spagnolo decorated the foyer. “I was at work while Karolyn and her team decorated the house,” she says. “And when I walked through the front door I was astounded to find this magical wonderland. I was speechless that first year.”
The Stephens say they use the foyer as the backdrop for their family photos. Their children, 11-year-old Luke and 4-year-old Grace sit on the same step every year for their holiday picture. “It’s great to capture those memories and see how much they’ve grown year after year.”
Home for the holidays
Ray and Chris Pronto’s Moon Township home has a distinct traditional personality and is decorated in rich cranberry and gold tones. They also turned to Spagnolo to help them transform their home for the holidays. “I always recommend playing off the color scheme in a home, and this is what I did in the Prontos’ house,” Spagnolo says.
Ten-inch cranberry ribbon, beads, berries and ornaments are intertwined with the greenery framing the front entry and hanging on the lamppost. This theme is carried right through the front door and into the foyer. Packages wrapped in an assortment of holiday colors encompass the Santa Claus figure at the base of the staircase, while garland accented with red plaid ribbon runs up the railing. “These decorations perfectly complement the rich woodwork seen in the foyer,” Spagnolo says.
Chris says the living room is her favorite place to relax during the holidays. “I love to sit in front of the fireplace and enjoy the Christmas tree.”
Spagnolo says homeowners should focus on decorating three key interior areas: the tree, the fireplace mantel and the entry. “These three elements will put you, and your guests, in the holiday spirit,” she says.
For the mantel in the Prontos’ living room, each year Spagnolo hangs garland made of white pine needles, pinecones, ornaments and lights, all in colors matching the surrounding décor. A complementary wreath, reindeer and wrapped packages complete the look.
“I really look forward to this time of year,” Spagnolo says. “The best part is seeing the faces of the Pronto and Stephen families, it makes everything we do so much more meaningful.”
Interior designer: Karolyn Spagnolo, Spagnolo Design; Trim carpenter and installation: David Blackburn; Wreaths: Kent Welding
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