From the December/January 2012 Issue:

A Time for Tradition

    Writer: Ren Miller | Photographer: Peter Rymwid | Designer: Ginny Zonfrilli, VHZ Design Group, Allied Member ASID |

A Historic home dressed in classic holiday finery welcomes family and friends in South Orange

Article Photo
enlarge | On Christmas morning, the family gathers in the living room, where the mantel is decorated with evergreens, sprays of red branches, red and green blown-glass balls, strings of gold beads and gold-painted pinecones. The stocking holders are cast-iron holiday figures, and the Santa Claus pillows expand on a theme also found among the tree ornaments. “My philosophy for holiday decorating is ‘more is more,’” Ginny Zonfrilli says. That’s evident in a nine-foot Christmas tree with nearly 1,000 ornaments, the centerpiece of her holiday decorating scheme.
Holiday traditions are important to Ginny Zonfrilli, from the decorations to the festive gatherings at her home in the Montrose Park Historic District, a South Orange neighborhood on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.

The style of the home—with Italian Renaissance influences plus a red clay tile roof and stucco finish—plays a role in the choice of holiday decorations, says Zonfrilli, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and principal of VHZ Design Group. “The home, completed around 1920, has such a strong architectural presence that it speaks to traditional decorating,” Zonfrilli says. “The original chestnut woodwork and ceiling beams and the sweeping foyer staircase are even more grand when draped in greenery, ribbons and glittering ornaments.”

Zonfrilli and her husband, Joe, empty-nesters except for their Scottish Terrier William, welcome daughter Alexis and husband Ken Krajcsovics, son Cameron and daughter Evan Loren from their homes in Hoboken and Jersey City to a Christmas Day get-together. “We gather around a roaring fire in the living room on Christmas morning and enjoy mimosas and hot croissants while we open our gifts,” Zonfrilli says. The fun continues through New Year’s Day as the Zonfrillis celebrate the holidays with family and friends.

The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of Zonfrilli’s holiday decorating. “It’s my labor of love because it’s filled with ornaments collected over 40 years,” she says. Included are some ornaments that graced the tree when she was growing up in Whitehouse and others that she and a friend exchanged as Christmas gifts when they were young adults, a tradition they continued for 25 years. “Every ornament has a story, and every one of the close to 1,000 ornaments in the collection has to go on the tree,” she says with a smile.

The living room fireplace mantel holds a stocking for each member of the family and their significant others, while the sun-porch fireplace (not pictured) has stockings filled with treats for all the pets and grandpets.

One tradition that’s on hold for now—a dining room tree filled with ornaments made by the kids—will reappear when grandchildren begin to join the family, Zonfrilli says.

Zonfrilli begins the three-week Christ­­mas decorating project right after Thanksgiving and does much of it herself, though she’s quick to credit Matt Findlay and his staff at Crest Florist in East Hanover for helping with the decorating and the fresh florals.

“The beauty of holiday decorating is to create an ambience of joy, warmth and welcome to those we love,” Zonfrilli says. “It’s a reflection of all the memories we hold most dear to our hearts.”


SOURCES design, Ginny Zonfrilli of VHZ Design Group in South Orange; fresh floral arrangements and decorating assistance, Crest Florist in East Hanover.

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