From the December 2017/January 2018 Issue

The More the Merrier

Writer Marirose Krall  |  Photographer Wing Wong  |  Location Saddle River, NJ  |  Holiday décor Laura Goomas, Allied ASID
  • Six-foot-tall nutcrackers stand at attention at each end of the foyer. White ribbon on the staircase marks a departure from the standard seasonal red and green. Classic poinsettias line the stairs.

  • A 16-foot tree holds its own under the high ceiling in the great room. Four-foot tall nutcrackers stand out on the mantel.

  • A corner of the dining room is awash in gold and white ornamentation to coordinate with the rest of the room.

  • A large wreath reflects the grandeur of the great room. The holiday décor was in place in time for a party celebrating the homeowners’ 20th wedding anniversary.

  • Matching dog sculptures stand aside white poinsettias in the living room.

  • In the library, the swag on the mantel and ornaments near the hearth were chosen to coordinate with the colors int he room.

An Expansive Saddle River, New Jersey Home Requires Holiday Décor to Match.

There’s no such thing as a merry “little” Christmas in the Carr household. James and Danielle Carr like to celebrate in a big way, says Laura Goomas, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of LG Interior Design Inc. in Mahwah, New Jersey. “They really like to do Christmas. They go over the top.”

Goomas should know. “We’ve been decorating their home for Christmas for about 10 years,” she says. Throughout that time, Goomas has curated a substantial collection of ornaments for the Carrs, using new and old pieces in varying ways. The current iteration is the result of “years of accumulating decorations.”

A large stockpile is necessary because, at 10,000 square feet, the house is expansive. The great room, for example, lives up to its name with its 28-foot ceiling, massive stone fireplace and Gothic windows reminiscent of a medieval cathedral. For that room, Goomas notes, “We needed to buy oversized Christmas decorations. The ornaments are big. The flowers are big. They have to be when you have a house that size.”

The great room tree rises 16 feet high. Large ornaments make the job of trimming the massive branches a bit easier. “It doesn’t take as long as you might think,” the designer says. “We get it done very quickly. We have the nursery deliver the tree with the lights on,” she explains. That definitely eliminates one of the more frustrating jobs of the season. Still, she says with a laugh, “The star on top is a problem. We needed a very tall ladder.”

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She also needed the assistance of her daughter and project manager, Alison Sharkey. “She’s the climber. I’ve become the director and she’s the producer. She climbs the ladder and I say ‘a little to the left.’” As a “director,” Goomas has a system in place for trimming a tree uniformly. “We put the ribbons on first so we have something to guide us as to where we put the rest of the decorations. We start at the top and work our way down.”

Having an efficient tree-trimming strategy is always a good thing, but particularly so in this home where there are multiple trees. In addition to the tree in the great room, there are two in the living room, one in the dining room and another in the library.

And while there’s no “theme” to the décor, Goomas did coordinate the decorative elements in each space. The ornaments in the dining room are primarily gold and silver to reflect the wall color. The swag on the mantel in the library and the cluster of ornaments beside the hearth reflect the burgundy of that room. An assortment of colors brings an exuberant feel to the holiday trimmings in the neutral great room.

Adding to the high-spirited fun in the great room is the brigade of four-foot-high nutcrackers in the niches of the Gothic stone arches over the fireplace. Still, they’re dwarfed beside the six-foot versions in the foyer, standing guard on each side of the staircase. That staircase features the unusual combination of green garland and white ribbons and bows. The designer felt that the color choice provided “a good transition between the dining room and the living room.”

In a corner beneath the stairs, and again in the library, Goomas created decorative focal points out of Christmas balls and faux botanicals arranged artfully in a box. “We used packing paper to fill out the bottom of the boxes then added the ornaments. It turned out really impressive.”

Impressive indeed—that’s not always an easy accomplishment in a residence of this size. Goomas again mentions the larger-than-life quality of this design scheme. “You really have to go over the top or everything gets lost.”