For 24 years, Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) has showcased homes extravagantly decorated for the holidays in Fort Bend County’s most beautiful neighborhoods as a way of raising funds to support its programs and services, which it offers free to abused and neglected children and their families in the county. In 2014, the Christmas Home Tour raised more than $215,000 to support CAFB. With expenses at less than 6 percent, CAFB can put 94 percent of the Home Tour proceeds toward its Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Child Advocacy Center programs.
With the help of professional decorators and florists, several homeowners decorate their homes for Christmas and open them to the public during the second weekend of December. Guests tour the homes and admire the talents of the decorators, florists and homebuilders as well as the homeowners’ personal style. Volunteer hosts greet and direct guests along a pre-arranged route through the home, and cookies and refreshments are offered at the end of the tour at many of the houses.
Each year more than 2,000 guests visit the CASA Christmas Home Tour homes at their own schedule and pace. Tickets allow entrance into each home once during the two tour days, and the addresses and directions to the homes are listed on the back of the tickets in a recommended order.
The CASA home featured here from last year’s tour is owned by Michael and Twana McGrath, who were approached by both Pat Somers of the CAFB board and Teena Caldwell of Twenty-Two Fifty Interiors about opening their house for the CASA tour. Since Twana regularly shops at Teena’s design shop, the collaboration to transform the home into a Christmas tour stop was fairly effortless. Teena already knew and understood the couple’s style and what they would be comfortable with in their home.
Rather than haul in a sleigh-load of Christmas decorations and completely redecorate for the season, the McGraths preferred to keep their everyday style relatively intact and simply embellish and enhance what was already in place with a few select ornaments and adornments. For example, among the couple’s collectibles are lots of religious icons — saints, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Family — which are on display year-round.
The home’s holiday theme is announced dramatically at the front entrance where the door is drenched in gold poinsettias, ornaments and fresh greenery. Sparkling crowns surround the door in a floral design and wreaths proclaim the arrival of the Holy King. A statue of a saint stands sentinel. Inside the entry, magnolia blooms steeped in gold and green garland greet guests. Angels flank the stairwell. A nativity sits serenely atop the piano, and a collection of jeweled crowns pay homage to the gifts of the Magi.
The religious imagery is also used on the main Christmas tree in the living room and also in the formal dining room. A crèche rests atop the large tree, boldly declaring the reason for the season. Scattered throughout the branches are more shiny gold crowns, jewels representing the gifts of the Magi, and Mark Roberts’ ornaments that celebrate the Holy Family. Hydrangea, poinsettias, gold and burgundy ribbon and holiday greenery provide the floral flair.
The dining room is impressive with a saints and angels theme. Twana’s collection provides the centerpiece and buffet adornment. “Basically we just gathered all of my saints and angels into this room and used them as the holiday theme here by adding holiday garland and flowers,” she said. “Typically, they are used throughout my home in different places, but for Christmas time, this seemed appropriate.”
The art in the dining room is a nativity scene — a 120-year-old painting the couple found at an antiques shop in Richmond. Antique wine bottle baskets from Canton and vintage candlesticks mixed in with the pine boughs and gold accents provide a perfect Old World holiday setting to any Christmas meal.
The tone of the holiday décor takes a whimsical turn in the family room, kitchen, and breakfast and game room where Santa Claus is obviously coming to town. The family room tree is decorated with the family’s Santa collection, the kids’ ornament collection, travel ornaments and photo ornaments. In the kitchen, Mark Roberts’ Christmas fairies and elves dance atop the kitchen counters and swing playfully from the lighting. A metal Christmas tree made from serving spoons is decorated with fairies. The breakfast room serves up the holidays in Christmas tablewear and stocking covers over the flatware. Roses and hydrangeas along with Christmas green and red berries enhance morning coffee. In the gameroom, the family’s snowman collection sets a festive stage. Red glitter bows and ribbons along with red and green burlap add to the fun and games. Candy canes burst sweetly from the treetop.
Unique to this home is the trophy room, where Michael’s passion for hunting is declared with decidedly masculine flair. During the Christmas season, the theme is horns and halos. The tree stands in a water trough and its skirt is a buffalo hide. The ornaments are from natural elements and reflect Michael’s love of the outdoors.
The daughters’ rooms reflect their own personal preferences. Though both are styled with a winter wonderland, subtle differences define each. One sports an ice queen theme in which mercury glass, icicles and silver glitter on the tree are warmed by touches of gold. The other features a snow queen theme. Her tree is flocked and decorated with white poinsettias, hydrangeas, crowns, chandeliers and sequined stars. It is skirted in burlap and snow.
In the master suite, snowflakes and Santas set the holiday mood. Branches of birch, fresh white poinsettias and an explosion of evergreens were used to top the tree. Silver accents are warmed by touches of gold scattered throughout the tree branches. From the master, there is a view of the outdoor living area where a life-size Santa, bursts of bright bougainvilleas and rich red and gold foil accents extend the season’s festive spirit.
Featured homes are referred through interior decorators or friends of the agency, or CAFB is contacted directly by the homeowners. To be considered, the homeowners must enjoy decorating elaborately for Christmas and be open to the public viewing their home. CAFB staff will tour the home and determine if the location and flow of the home is suitable for the Home Tour.
Volunteers are also needed and welcome to serve with CAFB during the tour as more than 1,500 people are required to help with this event. For more information on volunteering at the Christmas Home Tour or perhaps hosting your home next year, contact Lisa Moore at 281-344-5108. For more information about the CASA Christmas Home Tour, visit cafb.org.
TOP IMAGE: The family Christmas tree i n the den featured ornaments and Santas the family collected over the years.
Text by Cheryl Alexander | Photography by Pamala Photography Holiday Design Teena Caldwell and Flora Chakra, Twenty-two Fifty Interiors
Floral Design by: Nora Anne’s Flower Shoppe
Outdoor Lighting by: Perfect Light
Category: Featured Homes