Preparing for the holidays doesn’t have to be a singular endeavor. Who doesn’t need some assistance and inspiration—even when it comes to wrapping a home in the holiday spirit?
We turned to Kelli Fontana Vogelgesang, designer and developer with West Bay Homes, a boutique real estate development firm she co-owns with her husband, Richard Vogelgesang. “Richard and I absolutely love building new construction custom homes in this area,” she says. It’s clear Vogelgesang also treasures the holidays, as evident through the bespoke style she cloaks her home in for the holidays.
Lake Minnetonka Magazine: What tips do you have for elevating holiday home décor?
Kelli Fontana Vogelgesang: I like to mix vintage pieces, special table linens and timeless ornaments I’ve had for many years with bold decorative accessories with a high level of quality or style.
How do you blend holiday memorabilia while keeping your décor vibe on track?
Instead of just one tree, I like to have a more casual Christmas tree that we decorate with my children’s handmade Christmas ornaments from over the years. Here, we also use vintage ornaments from my childhood, as well as ornaments that our family has picked up along the way from our travels and during holiday shopping ... These ornaments have been hand selected by my children—they have no rhyme or reason, other than they bring joy, and somehow when they are all grouped together on one whimsical colorful little tree, it just works.
Let’s talk color.
I feel it’s important to harmonize your holiday décor selections with your personal home’s overall everyday style. After all, these are the backgrounds you have to work with: [wall colors, focal point art, furnishings, area rug colors, architectural features and more]. These fixed background elements dictate my direction when planning holiday décor for my own home or for a client’s home. I believe considering these fixed backgrounds within your home will make for a harmonious finished holiday look.
Tree toppers don’t always need to feature an angel or a star. How did you bring in natural elements for your tree top?
I worked closely with Christi Poppler from Studio C Floral to source the materials and work her magic as a highly skilled floral artist. I am a hands-on designer, so, during installation, I climbed the ladder to try one blade of pampas grass at the top of a tree. I was delighted with the effect and kept adding more. Holiday decorating magic happens organically.
Speaking of natural elements, what other materials do you recommend?
I like to use natural materials as often as possible as there is great beauty and goodness to natural materials ... The elements I use from nature to decorate my home changes with the seasons, so in the winter, birch branches, crystals, glass, feathers, shed deer antlers, winter blooming flowers, dried grasses, pinecones and evergreen garland and wreaths mixed in with fragrant candles with notes of Fraser fir, balsam fir or frankincense add nostalgic fragrance and ambience. Effortless and relaxed pieces from nature juxtapose with formal elements like a gilded rococo mirror or a hand-knotted vintage rug. For our fancy holiday environments, I wanted a celebratory, luxurious, Bohemian vibe.
How can the use of greenery welcome in the spirit of the holiday in a fresh, non-cluttered way?
Look at your home’s spaces carefully. Find those focal point areas you would like to bring attention to, and focus on these areas. This year, for my staircase banister, instead of draping evergreens continuously in a more formal way down the handrail, I chose specific areas of the handrails to highlight with clusters of flat matte and iridescent faux botanicals to keep the eye moving about the space. To me, this staircase installation feels really fresh and unexpected, and I love that. We finished each cluster of monochromatic florals with black satin bows for an added touch of holiday glamour. I can’t resist a black satin bow—so simple, yet so chic.
What is a must-display item in your home?
A glass nativity set from my childhood is always significant to me when I unwrap it each year. I remember vividly, the way my mom displayed it in my childhood home. When I place it within my home, I get an overwhelming feeling of peace.
How much is too much when it comes to decorating for holidays? Some homes start to feel cluttered vs. culled.
I am big on editing. I find that environments need a little breathing room for the viewer to fully appreciate the architectural elements, decor and overall atmosphere. However, maximalism—done right—is a feast for the eyes. My advice is always do what speaks to you.
Do you have storage or care tips for holiday items?
Yes, edit! If you find yourself skimming over a collection of ornaments for more than three years, it’s time to retire them. Also, I like using clear bins to store my holiday décor, so that I can see the contents immediately.
When building a new home or remodeling, do you recommend homeowners keep anything in mind when it comes to the holidays?
For new construction, it’s nice to add electrical outlets to the front elevation in a non-conspicuous location for easy access to plug in your Christmas lights. Custom cabinetry systems that are designed specifically to organize your holiday decor are a huge lifestyle upgrade. We also enjoy designing elaborate wrapping stations with everything you need for gift wrapping in one incredibly functional and beautiful space. When designing your kitchen and dining spaces, it is important to consider whether your family is the host of large gatherings. If this is the case, additional refrigeration components, rear prep kitchens, custom bulk pantry storage, additional sinks, appliances and countertop spaces are a great convenience to homeowners, who host frequent holiday gatherings