From the December/January 2012 Issue:

Holiday Haven

    Writer: Meg Fox | Photographer: Patricia Burke | Designer: Pat Mills of Byford & Mills |

Interior design maven Pat Mills invites us home for the holidays, where lifelong collections and antiques warm the soul

Article Photo
enlarge | Silver roosters stand guard over an array of boxwood spheres, gilded pods, baby’s breath and spiral topiaries on a dining room buffet. Mills picked up the antique pear-wood chest and vintage table lamp from Nice on one of her many trips to Europe. The painting is an original by Post-Impressionist Abraham Manievich.
“It’s festive and fun to create a holiday atmosphere,” says Pat Mills a collector of art, face jug pottery, antique prints, ceramic vegetables, religious art, artifacts and more as well as founder, owner and president of Byford & Mills, an interior design firm, trade resource and retail showroom in Little Silver. At Christmastime, these collections dear and collected, new and antique are displayed with the likes of fanciful ribbons, shimmering ornaments and swags of greenery.

While Mills’ decorating style has evolved over the years, one factor remains: her penchant for using fresh or natural elements for the holidays. “I am always struck with wonder at the absolute beauty in nature,” says Mills, who adds fresh fruit, dried materials, magnolia leaves, seashells, coral or other natural materials to the mix. And to boost the design or longevity of her displays, Mills is never afraid to combine the fresh with the artificial. Take her tree, for instance—it’s not a gift from Mother Nature. “I have grown quite used to it after vowing for many years nothing but live,” she says.

To set the stage for a meaningful and festive holiday Mills suggests taking inventory of your most sentimental treasured objects and displaying them with greens, feathers, pinecones, dried pods or flowers. “Don’t forget ribbon and a bit of glitter,” she adds.


Sources Overall: room design, holiday décor, all furniture and accents, Byford & Mills in Little Silver. Wine/Sitting Room: Brunschwig & Fils book-themed wallpaper; Barreveld International hand-carved stag. Dining Room Buffet: vintage pear-wood chest and French lamp, oil painting by Abraham Manievich, Osborne & Little green wallpaper, Living Room Vignette and Fireplace: Maitland-Smith bronze bull and lamp, oil painting by Abraham Manievich, French imported ceramic urns, Maitland-Smith fireplace fenders. Foyer Niche: Pierre Frey chair fabric, vintage pine table, chair and dough bowl. Entryway: trumeau mirror, antique carved Santos and Spanish console, antique; abstract watercolor (reflected in mirror), Robin Gilbert in Hull, Massachusetts. Media Room: French antique mantel, Ralph Lauren plaid wallpaper, Maitland-Smith fireplace fenders, Hickory Chair leather and red chair, sconces purchased in Mexico.

Download the complete resource guide with contact information (pdf)