The Edwardian home of designer Betty Theodoropoulos has been on my 'favorite homes' list for quite some time now, and it by far tops the list when it comes to holiday décor and style! Betty was ahead of all of us, in terms of this year's trend towards over-abundance of simple & fresh greenery as a Christmas décor staple. Her family home is a testament to marrying traditional style (circa-1910) with all the luxuries and functions of a contemporary home.
I've blogged about this gorgeous house in the past (paneling, herringbone floors, marble kitchen and baths ... need I say more?) so long-time readers will likely recognize it. However after seeing a new view into Betty's stunning curved-wall dinning room in the latest House & Home magazine I just had to re-share it with a handful of new images (oh, and please do yourself a favor and take the stunning video tour). So, I was delighted and honored when Betty agreed to divulge some of her entertaining & decorating tips and tricks with us in a little conversation - I'm sure you will agree after reading through that her savvy tastemaker skills and thoughtful hostess pointers are enough to inspire the party thrower in all of us! (All images via House & Home | Photography by Angus Fergusson unless otherwise noted).
Nancy Marcus: What are some holiday traditions you can't miss in your décor?
Betty Theodoropoulos: Keeping it natural by bringing the outdoors inside without using too many artificial baubles or trinkets. Also, keeping decorations simple without too much ornamentation. This is how my mother used to decorate the house for Christmas and it is part of my childhood memories.
Photography by Mark Burstyn
NM: What are your favorite tips & tricks to make entertaining easy?
BT: When entertaining smaller groups (10 or under) I take pleasure in doing all the preparation and cooking and the best trick is always to plan ahead. Two days before I will decide on the menu and do the grocery shopping in advance. I prepare the floral arrangements and have the table set the day before. Therefore I can spend that day doing all the cooking. My husband and I will divide and conquer. As I am preparing food he takes care of setting up the bar and making sure we are fully stocked.
For large parties, and we will often entertain for groups of 30+, I hire caterers and wait staff so that I can enjoy the company of our guests.
Photography by Mark Burstyn
BT: For entertaining our friends and loved ones - always good wine and good food!
Photography by Mark Burstyn
NM: Best lighting for dinner parties?
BT: Definitely soft, dim and ambient lighting with the addition of candles.
NM: Yes! It's always so important to include dimmer switches in the dinning room. And what about your favorite China pattern?
BT: White on white. It is simple and classic and mixes well with anything.
NM: What is your favorite color palette for Christmas décor?
BT: I love white and green for Christmas décor. It is fresh and blends in beautifully with any design aesthetic and style of décor, whether you are contemporary or traditional.
NM: Favorite look for the Christmas tree?
BT: There is nothing more festive than the smell of a real tree during the holidays and going to select our tree has become our favourite family Christmas tradition. For the past few years I have been going with a natural theme for decorating. I begin by wrapping a magnolia garland around the tree and layering it with natural branches, berries, additional greenery and dried white flowers. My daughter gets a smaller Christmas tree in her bedroom that she gets to decorate on her own using all the wonderful holiday ornaments that she has collected over the years. This makes her feel very grown up and very proud of her accomplishment!
NM: Favorite drink to serve?
BT: My husband makes a terrific Old Fashioned and there is always plenty of red wine and Prosecco. My personal favorite is a Lychee Martini but it has to be garnished with real lychees!
NM: What is your go-to winter scent for the home?
BT: Because I bring in so much natural greenery for decorating the house there is always a scent of the outdoors that lingers inside our home. Also, anything baking in the oven! I love to cook and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to practice my culinary skills.
NM: I love that you incorporate gingerbread cookies & a gingerbread house in your simple kitchen décor; they last longer than other desserts so they are always worth the time and effort!
NM: Best hostess gift to give or received:
BT: Anything from Hermès because who doesn't enjoy receiving an orange box? Hermès makes wonderful Vetiver scented drawer liners that I have been giving as hostess gifts for years. They also make the most wonderful selection of scented hand soaps that come beautifully packaged in a box of three.
NM: Music playlist must-haves:
BT: When we renovated our home 4 years ago, my husband took charge of the audio visual part of the project, making sure we had the latest up to date system. We love playing music throughout the house when we are just hanging out as a family or entertaining friends. For the holiday's it's always the classics: Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Sinatra ... and because we grew up in the 80's we can never get enough of Wham's 'Last Christmas' and Band Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' for some holiday nostalgia!
Additionally, you can never go wrong with Apple Music because they offer so many terrific Christmas playlists.
NM: Your go-to holiday party outfit?
BT: When entertaining at home I keep it casual and comfortable. I love jumpsuits because they are easy to wear yet sexy and elegant! Alternatively I will go with a pair of silk pajama style trousers and a cashmere sweater with kitten heals that I can run around in.
For going out during the holiday season, you can never go wrong with a LBD with some dramatic jewelry and a gorgeous pair of shoes.
NM: And lastly, what are your must have festive greens and flower?
BT: For festive greens around the house I will often use garlands of either magnolia or cedar mixed in with some boxwood and pine cones.
My favorite around the house are mini boxwood wreaths placed over windows or glass patio doors. For flowers my definite must have is white orchids planted in a large silver bowl with chunky branches and some pine cones for additional holiday ornamentation. Another favorite for the holiday season are white amaryllises - but only white.
NM: Stunning! I love that you use a wide silk ribbon to hang the boxwood wreaths over glass doors, and the large size of the pinecones you utilize makes a lovely statement. And I notice the placement of gifts not only under the tree but in vignettes around the home, another wonderful idea for us to take from.
I'm sure I speak for all of us when saying a huge & sincere thank you to Betty for taking the time to chat with me and share some fantastic tastemaker tips for flawless decorating, entertaining, and hosting. What an amazing home! Be sure to follow Betty's new instagram account and stay tuned as her new website will launch soon. And I for one will be hoping to head to Hermès for an orange box or two ... or more :)