All through the house

Every room sparkles with holiday decorations at the Byrd home

Story: Pam Meade, Photos: Tom Hawley

At Carmela Byrd’s house, Christmas is a feast for the eyes as well for the soul.

As a Christian and a pastor’s wife, she reveres the holiday’s spiritual significance.

And as a talented decorator, she uses the holiday as a springboard to decorate her Carrington Farms home in grand style.

“I usually have to start in October so I can have everything up and ready by December first,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I love it.”

Carmela and Joseph Byrd moved back to Monroe in 2012 when he returned to a post he’d previously held for nearly 12 years: senior pastor at Stewart Road Christian Ministries Center.

Getting settled in a new home after a move has its own challenges, but Carmela says she has enjoyed decorating the main downstairs rooms for Christmas according to specific themes and colors. She enjoys opening her Christmas home to others, too.

“Last year we hosted an all-day open house,” she said. “About 200 people came through.”

Visitors are welcomed to the Byrd Christmas home with garlands of evergreen and red wreaths and ribbons across the front windows and teardrop evergreen swags, featuring large red and gold bulbs and poinsettias, at the barn-red front door.

Last year, a seven-foot Christmas tree, gleaming with lime green ribbon, white lights and an array of red and lime green bulbs and sprigs, caught the eye in the foyer. Evergreen garlands woven with large poinsettias lights illuminate the catwalk railing up above, along with a 5-foot lighted reindeer silhouette.

The living room, with its baby grand piano, had a red candy cane theme.

“I wanted the room to have a whimsical feel,” she said.

Red and white balls, red glittering bows and red and white mesh material served as swags above her sheer curtains, which were tied back with red ribbon. A towering lighted tree in the corner was festooned with red and white striped mesh ribbon, peppermint-candy style ornaments and an abundance of white evergreens. Red bulbs peeked out from behind the garlands to give more splashes of color, and the tree topper was a snowman wearing a red velvet hat.

The dining room had a more rustic theme, brightened by a red tablecloth and red satin chair coverings. Bathed in light from a sizeable front window, the room also boasted its own decorated tree plus table centerpieces of evergreen-style figurines and bulbs plus lighted candles surrounded in evergreen garlands. Carmela also was able to include some of her more rustic-style figurines in this room, such as a Santa with snowshoes clad in a brown parka and boots.

The family room boasted a white and gold theme. The towering flocked tree near the fireplace gleamed with white lights bouncing off gold ornaments and gold sequined ribbon. Dubbed the “family tree,” it included ornaments with the names of family members written on them.

A cluster of gleaming white candles sat on the fireplace hearth, while the fireplace mantle featured an evergreen garland woven with white lights, gold poinsettias and feathers. A lighted miniature Christmas village at one side of the tree plus candles arranged on a bench helped bathe the room in a warm glow. A five-foot Santa, holding a lantern, seems to greet those entering the room.

The Christmas theme continued in the kitchen, with colorful red tablecloths beneath a table set for Christmas tea and ornaments hanging from the windows. Even the bedrooms had a hint of Christmas; the master bedroom, for example, boasted its own tree shimmering in silver, blue and black. A whimsical Dr. Seuss tree sat on the upstairs landing.

“We let our girls each have their own tree in their rooms when they were younger; they could decorate it themselves,” she said.

Carmela said she’s always enjoyed decorating and as a pastor’s wife she always had a part in decorating for events at church, including weddings.

But it was when she and her husband moved to Tennessee a few years ago that she began expanding her Christmas décor. Dr. Byrd, who is also a lawyer, worked at the headquarters of his denomination, the Church of God, in Cleveland, Tenn., and taught at its school, Lee University. He also spent some time as the county attorney of Bradley County, Tenn.

“We had this old historical home in Tennessee, and we opened it up for a wedding,” she said. “I loved decorating for that, and I began to focus more on keeping that up, especially around the holidays. We hosted Christmas open houses down there, too.”

Carmela says she has built up her Christmas decoration collection gradually, finding many items at bargain prices after the holiday season. She also finds inexpensive decorations in mark-downs at craft stores. And she’s very organized in her storage – items are boxed away and labeled by type and color.

Carmela recently expanded her passion for décor into a business, Interior Design and Furnishings. She works on the interior design; partner Tom LaFountian does woodworking and furniture refinishing.

She already has plans for changing up her Christmas décor for this year — nine trees instead of seven, her foyer tree decorated in more vintage-style ornaments.

But this holiday season, there won’t be a big open house. Instead, she’ll be focusing on hosting family. The Byrds have two daughters, Emma and A’ndrea. A’ndrea and her husband, Jimmy Cornprobst, have three children ranging in age from 9 to 2.

“The best is seeing the reaction of the kids,” Carmela said. “That makes it all more special.”