Christmas in Every Room
Lavish holiday décor with a touch of whimsy and comfort make this Charleston home the perfect holiday experience.
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Debbie and Ralph Ballard of Charleston know how to celebrate the magic of the season. “I love the holidays because it reminds me of my childhood,” says Debbie. “My mother loved traditions. She was always giving, caring, and sharing. During Christmas, she would always open the house to friends and family. I think it is ingrained in me.”
Each year beginning in November, Debbie, with the help of artistic designer Mike Spangler, transforms her home into a winter wonderland. “By early fall, we come up with a theme and color scheme,” Mike says. “We never do the same thing twice. It is always a different color or a different theme. Two years ago, we did a woodland theme and used huge black stuffed bears and real tree limbs.”
While they recycle things in and out, they often donate their large statement pieces to charitable organizations. Mike says, “Debbie and Ralph donated all the stuffed bears to the sheriff’s department because they often need things like that to entertain children. They also donate items to nursing homes and hospitals.”
This past year the theme was “White Christmas.” White, silver, bronze, and crystal décor adorned the more public areas of the home, while vivid red, white, and lime green decorations transformed the downstairs family room.
“Every other year Debbie and Ralph have a big Christmas party. Typically, we have 15 trees, ranging from 6 feet to 14 feet tall. There’s Christmas in every single room,” Mike says.
When guests walk into the foyer, they are greeted with 20-foot ceilings and a catwalk that overlooks the entryway and living room. Four-foot wide, white silk poinsettias gracefully cascade from the balcony, which is festooned with lush greenery, glittery white and silver balls, LED icicle lights, and crystal icicles and snowflakes. A 5-foot tall Christopher Radko nutcracker stands guard. “I collect Radko ornaments,” Debbie says. “And the nutcracker is a very special piece.”
“When guests walk in the door, they are blown away by the white poinsettias. You have to stop and take it all in,” Mike says. “It is a big house, so we have to use bigger retail display pieces so that the scale is right.”
The home’s neutral palette allows the holiday décor to pop. Mike believes the tan, black, brown, and cream furnishings provide the perfect foil for holiday décor. The 14-foot Christmas tree in the living room is beautifully covered with 8-, 10-, and 12-inch white handblown glass ornaments from Eggplant in Charleston, large crystal snowflakes, and white penguins.