The Spirit of Christmas: Little Rock interior design firm Tom Chandler and Associates spruces up a west Little Rock home with timeless traditions that evoke the true holiday spirit.
Setting foot outside the grand entryway of an already striking home, located in a gated community in west Little Rock, the spirit of Christmas is overwhelmingly present, adding to its charm.
Renowned interior designer Tom Chandler and his “dream team” — composed of Martin Potter, Edwina Lieblong and Shawn Sullivan — have worked their expert magic on this home time and time again, continuing to build a trust in design that they are known for in the community. After all, Chandler’s business has been around since 1980, with clients that span the country and a business that also includes the Chandler School of Interior Decorating, fully accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Career Education.
“This particular design is all our planning, and we’ve worked with this client for years, so they totally trust us and let us do what we want to do,” Chandler says. “We don’t ask for a lot of input, and we don’t really need it because most people we work for have worked with us for years — and they simply trust our team and let us do what we are there to do.”
Beautifully crafted, stunning and high-quality outdoor marble statues, a favorite possession of the homeowners, surround the home entrance and showcase an awe-inspiring nativity scene, imported from Italy by renowned designer Fontanini. Grand, yet genuine. Spectacular, yet not one bit ostentatious. The gleaming collection is perhaps a reflection of the compassionate and giving heart of the homeowners, and the perfect foreshadowing for what is to come inside the home.
“The homeowners like telling the story of the real ‘reason for the season,’” Chandler says.
Two eye-catching, 9-foot-tall-trees flank a set of formal doors leading inside the home, and that’s “just the beginning of the Christmas decorations,” Chandler says. Once inside, the theme of religion is apparent with ornate angels scattered throughout, including the first set of two on a round entryway table. The “angelic theme” elicits a mix of a soothing and inviting aura, along with a regal and stately tone that mirrors the formal style of architecture complete with elaborate crown molding. Yet despite the rich look of the architecture, the interior design remains comfortable and classic, fitting in seamlessly with the overall muted day-to-day color palette of the home.
The mood is pure beauty and not at all stuffy, thanks to many traditional pieces incorporated over the years, like the snow village the homeowners treasure and have collected over time.
“The client has collected these over the years and truly cherishes the collection,” Chandler says. “It hasn’t always been used because they didn’t have a place to present it like now. The layout of the kitchen and breakfast rooms combined with the architecture allows for the perfect place [for display].”
Walking into the living room is quite an astonishing experience. A white flocked Christmas tree sits elevated atop a 30-inch-high stand, which is a method the Chandler team uses “more often than not” for Christmas trees. So what else is the secret to a tree this beautiful? Tiny white, non-flashing lights in all of the formal areas with oversized ornaments, pushed way back into the tree.
“The first step is to fill in any voids with large decor,” Chandler says. “And if the client has collections of really small ornaments, we wire those together in groups of three or five and then hang that on the tree, as opposed to small, individual ones. We like adding sticks or foliage to give dimension as well.”
The more formal “adult” areas of the home, such as the living and dining rooms, incorporate the religion theme, but “graduating to the breakfast room and den, it gets more casual, and sometimes more childlike with [a bit of] Santa and reindeer that we wouldn’t mix with the adult things in the rest of the home,” Chandler says. “We’re really not into Santa as a major focal point.” More traditional hues of red and green are used in the den tree, and a timeless plaid pattern is used in the breakfast room.
With many different areas throughout the home incorporating pieces of holiday decor — big and small — it’s easy to wonder just how to eliminate possible clutter. It seems the strategy is quite simple.
“We would rather do a major presentation in each important room rather than lots of little presentations in each room,” Chandler says, adding the technique is one grand one as opposed to half a dozen little ones.”
It’s obvious that each room in this piece of holiday heaven was carefully curated with just the right amount of Christmas cheer, fulfilling all of the wishes of the homeowners’ beliefs, styles and traditions. It’s what Christmas dreams are made of, and a true magical sight to see, perfected to a tee in just one day and a half.
“We don’t ever leave a project until we are totally satisfied with it to the nth degree,” Chandler says. “Every project — big or small — is very fulfilling, and we always feel like it should be the best it can be.”