Carolyn Espley-Miller has the holiday touch
BY JOAN TAPPER
Carolyn Espley-Miller’s white-shingled Montecito house, built in 1895, begs for the “more is more” style of seasonal embellishment. And she obliges, beginning the first week of December, with a beribboned garland of nuts and pine cones on the front door, and a 12-foot tree, which she spends several days decorating for family, houseguests and get-togethers ranging from a tea-and-champagne afternoon to an evening cocktail party. The Santa Barbara style-setter and designer chronicles the display on her blog, SlimPaley.com, an addictive potpourri of fashion, design and travel.
“We have a collection of old and vintage ornaments,” says Espley-Miller, who lives with her husband and two sons (when they’re home from college). She also attaches flicker-flame bulbs and freshly dried orange slices to the tree, all of which look like bits of stained glass when illuminated from behind. “The citrus is a signature of mine. They make the house smell amazing,” she adds.
She turns the mantelpiece into a kind of aviary with branches, decorative birds, delicate nests and a blown-glass dome that encloses petite eggs. And candles. Lots of candles.
“I’ll swag the staircase with fresh pine garlands,” she says, “and wire green apples or pears into clusters” at the base. To suggest Christmas in a forest glade, she’ll fill a low basket with moss and bark and layer fresh mushrooms, or she might use a tartan tablecloth to dress a dining table. Last year, she took slips of paper printed with good wishes and tied them to the tree.
Some ornaments are always part of the decor, though, like Espley-Miller’s favorite ruby slippers—suggesting, perhaps, that during the holidays, there really is no place like home.
[C Home, December 2012]