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Designer perks up holiday collection

December 14, 2012 12:10 am


Hickman gathers live greenery from around client Elizabeth LeDoux's home to enhance inside decor. hh121412ledouxram7.jpg

A variety of natural and faux materials create an attractive dining room centerpiece. hh121412ledouxram6.jpg

Windows are simply but attractively decorated using ribbons, bows and ornaments. hh121412ledouxram5.jpg

Hickman combines live and faux branches, some with little lights, to fill a vase with Christmas color. hh121412ledouxram4.jpg

With a little help from designer Andrea Hickman, family's existing holiday decorations gained a whole new look. hh121412ledouxram3.jpg

With Hickman's help, the LeDouxes' banister and newel post greet family and friends with a festive holiday look. hh121412ledouxram2.jpg

Interior designer Andrea Hickman creates decorations by combining client Elizabeth LeDoux's collection of Christmas items with her own stash of ribbons and bows.


When coming up with the time and imagination needed to decorate her home for Christmas just wasn't in the cards, Elizabeth LeDoux had an ace in the hole.

After she and her husband, Rob, had moved into 713 Lee Ave. a few years ago, she called on Andrea Hickman of A. Hickman Design to help decorate the restored home. Now, since the two had already worked together, LeDoux figured she and Hickman would be on the same page when it came to the specialized skill of decorating for the holidays.

"From the work she had done before, I knew there would be no need for a clean slate to start with," LeDoux said. "She would start with what I already had."

That was key, because LeDoux already had years' worth of decorations that she'd collected. She also likes to pick things up when prices are 75 percent off at after-Christmas sales.

"I'm thinking, 'I've got all this stuff, now what to do with it,'" she said.

Whether she's doing year-round decor for a whole house, or seasonal decor for a few rooms, Hickman said she first wants to see what a client already has.

"That helps me figure out what they're going for and what direction I need to go in," said Hickman. "When I see what they have, they're telling me, 'We bought this because we love it.'"

Once she has an idea of a client's taste, proceeding with a project is that much easier.

"I try to take the personality of the family and incorporate it into what I do," she said. "After I see what the homeowner has, then I can add elements to it."

With the LeDouxes, Hickman said she knew they liked to blend antiques with modern elements, but that there was an overarching elegance to it all.


"The idea was to decorate little areas without going over the top," said Hickman.

There were four areas that Hickman was going to take on, the living room, foyer and main hallway, dining room and family room. The more formal spaces--all but the family room--would have themes of classic or traditional elegance in their Christmas decor. They would be tied together with touches of pink, a favorite of Elizabeth LeDoux, and a soft color that works better with the existing interior colors and decor than a lot of red.

"The family room--we're going to have some fun with that," said Hickman, envisioning a more casual holiday style.

The original portion of the house dates to the 1890s. When it was restored several years ago by Jon Van Zandt of Van Zandt Restorations, the formality of the existing rooms was retained and enhanced with new trim, drywall and cherry-finished hardwood flooring. An addition that created a family room and new kitchen was built at the same time. It has an open, modern floor plan.


Hickman turned her attention first to the living room fireplace mantel. A metallic garland was strung across and accented with pink and silver ball ornaments. Mini white lights were wound through the garland, providing a pleasant, muted effect.

"I like to have this on all day," said LeDoux of the mantel lights. "I'll put it on first thing in the morning."

Three other ornaments were hung with ribbon tacked to the top of the mantel. A child's Christmas stocking was hung to the side using a cup hook screwed into the mantel's underside. On the wall above the mantel Hickman placed a natural-looking faux green wreath accented with pink ornaments.

"I like to start with good fake stuff and add in the real stuff," she said. "The fake stuff holds in the real and gives structure."

The tree, also with mini white lights, is situated by a living room window where it shares holiday warmth with passersby on Lee Avenue. It is decorated with pretty traditional ornaments and wrapped with pink ribbon.

The banister is a good example of blending faux with real. An artificial lighted garland is wound between the newels. Fresh greens, many from the LeDoux's own backyard, are tucked in to create a fuller, more lush appearance. The newel post is decorated with pink and green ornaments, and topped off with a bow Hickman crafted--a skill handed down from her mom.

A little farther down the hall is a recessed area--the perfect place for a table with a vase bursting with colorful flourish of twigs and greens. Some of those twigs contribute a sprinkling of little lights they've sprouted--one of LeDoux's finds at A.C. Moore crafts.

The dining room table was provided with a festive centerpiece of ornaments and greens and other touches. Atop an armoire are a couple of large glass lanterns that are filled with red and green ornaments and show how simple it is to create attractive decorative items.

All four windows in the family room have large pink ornaments hung with wide ribbon. It's a simple but effective way to say "Christmas" without taking up a lot of space.

LeDoux is all smiles as Hickman goes about her work, making things look tastefully festive--but not gaudy.

"I knew with Andrea it wouldn't look like Michaels had exploded," said LeDoux, referring to another craft store popular with holiday decorators.

She also knows that, thanks to Hickman, the groundwork is already laid for Christmases yet to come. Then she'll be able to add things over time while maintaining the style and color palette that's already established.

"I'll be able to re-create all this," she said, and that'll give her a head start each year on her holiday decorating.

And who wouldn't like that?

Richard Amrhine: 540/374-5406

The home at 713 Lee Ave. was one that contractor Jon Van Zandt moved into with his family once he had completed its renovation and was continuing work on other Lee Avenue houses. There was more than one house along the pleasant, tree-lined street that he flipped that way.

In fact, Van Zandt has had a role in the restoration of as many as eight homes on Lee Avenue, helping to transform the neighborhood from a row of rundown rentals to beautifully restored homes with proud owners.

Elizabeth LeDoux said the home was move-in perfect when she and her husband came upon it in 2009.

"I just fell in love with it," she said. "This is no stepping-stone house for us. This is where we want to stay."

She also likes the fact that Van Zandt remains a neighbor.

When 701 Hanover St. came on the market--it's the larger house at the corner of Lee and Hanover--Van Zandt bought and restored it, making that his family's home. A stop on the city's Candlelight Tour this year, the Van Zandts' home is beautifully decorated inside and out.

After the LeDouxes moved into 713 Lee Ave., Elizabeth called on Andrea Hickman for advice on colors and decorating.

The dining room provides a good example of the results. The walls above the chair rail are khaki, while below the chair rail the walls are a dark salmon or brick color, highlighted by the white shadow box trim. The ceiling is a light, sky blue.

In the living room, where the walls are an inviting green, Hickman found drapery fabric and throw pillows with that incorporate the same shade.

In LeDoux's young daughter's room, the theme is pink and green, and features a bed and chest rescued from junk/antiques stores and repainted.

"We wanted a room that she could grow into and not grow out of, and that's what we got," LeDoux said.

--Richard Amrhine

Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.