Christmas in Connecticut

My friend, designer Lisa Hilderbrand, lives in a renovated 18th century saltbox that each year she transforms into the epitome of Christmas in Connecticut. Having purchased the house in 2004, Lisa and her husband fell hard for the spacious antique in a historic part of New Canaan. With seven fireplaces, seven bedrooms, sleeping porches and a ballroom, it had potential, but was a fixer upper with major challenges, from broken windows to leaky roof. But they were up to the task, and despite a major fire in 2005 during the final stages of renovation, the house was finished and this year the work effected by the Hilderbrands and their architect/contractor, Robert Chipley, received the President’s Award for Preservation from the New Canaan Preservation Alliance in 2015. While the exterior still retains an antique feel, double doors were added for a more gracious entry.

Christmas in Connecticut at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique home

Several weeks ago, I visited Lisa’s home during the Newcomers Club of New Canaan‘s Homes for the Holidays House Tour. Lisa’s father passed a way several years ago but she carries on his passion for holiday decorating. For her entry hall, she keeps her eye out for vintage mercury glass balls and other interesting decorative objects that add special holiday appeal.

Christmas in Connecticut at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique homeShe mixes fresh greens with store finds, like the Pier 1 giant glittered pinecones, for a lush festive garland up the stairs.

Christmas in Connecticut at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique homeLisa is full of helpful hints for making the most of holiday decor. “Fireplaces are an easy place to dress up for the holidays. Here I used extra branches from my tree (we always cut a few stragglers from the bottom), and bunches of berry branches.”

Christmas in Connecticut at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique home

Their large living room, the ballroom in the original house is an enormous 20′ x 40′ space. Able to accommodate a towering 11 foot Christmas tree, Lisa follows her father’s advice of cutting a foot off the top and bottom to enhance the illusion of an ever larger and fuller tree.

Christmas tree at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique homeTree decorating tip 101 – “Tuck lights all the way in to the base of the tree, then hang shiny balls far inside so they reflect and multiply the light.” Every surface reflects the holiday. At the other end of the room, an antique library table mixes in subtle holiday touches amongst Lisa’s collections. Her days working at Christie’s helped educate her eye for unusual and unique decorative accessories.

Christmas in Connecticut at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique home

A festive bar is every ready for guests.

holiday bar at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's historic Connecticut home

Lisa has collected vintage barware over the years that she also recommends as great gifts – from silver bottle openers and jiggers to cocktail forks and coasters. Monogrammed cocktail napkins add a personal elegant touch.

Holiday bar at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

The dining room seems right out of a movie set for a modern version of Christmas in Connecticut. With its original early nineteenth century paneling and ceiling beams, it is a cozy room perfect for holiday entertaining.

Dining room in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut homeNot only is the mantel festooned with festive finery,

Dining room in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut home but the antique brass chandelier is draped with a pinecone garland and little glittery glass ornaments

Dining room in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut home as well as the antique sconces from John Rosselli.

Dining room in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut home

Antique Fitzhugh china is surrounded by the glittering reflection of many tiny votive candles and mirror placemats, which Lisa suggests looking for on wedding websites.

Holiday table at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

The charming library is the oldest part of the house, dating from 1770. “When we bought the house, it was a wreck and this room had a dropped sheetrock ceiling, to which I took a crowbar! We added all of the bookcases and I had the sofa made to fit in between.”

Library in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

Lisa had an old mink coat fashioned into a throw

Library in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

and bought the pantings at auction because they look like her dog Rudy. Sprigs of evergreen, holly and tiny pinecones are everywhere,

Library in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

including the fireplace.

Library in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

The country kitchen is the site for many holiday crafts and baking activities with the kids.

Kitchen in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

Lisa always decorates the pot rack and this year’s theme was candy. Everything is real except the giant candy canes.

Kitchen in designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

Beyond the living room is an original outdoor pavilion. The Hilderbrands added the fireplace to extend the seasonality of the space. I’m sure it’s getting lots of use this year with the mild weather.

Outdoor pavilion at designer Lisa Hilderbrand's antique Connecticut house

Thank you Lisa for inviting us into your beautiful home. It is indeed the perfect setting for a wonderful Christmas in Connecticut.

All photos by Quintessence

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19 Responses to Christmas in Connecticut

  1. I love the pinecone, feather and greens mix — a fresh new take for the holidays!!

  2. Sara coax says:

    Beautiful! A very inspiring post. Thank you for sharing this lovely home.

  3. Phyllis says:

    Lots of great inspiration here – I love the feathers and magnolia leaves – I will be saving these photos! Many thanks and merry Christmas, Stacey!

  4. Lyn from Hockley Valley says:

    This is one of the best Christmas posts of late on ANY blog! Thank you for such warm and beautiful images and to Lisa for allowing us for a peek in her house.

  5. Jan Showers says:

    How utterly charming!

  6. This is absolute perfection! I loved every detail!

  7. Awesome. Love every detail.

  8. franki says:

    BRAVO!!!! Beyond beautiful…it is truly breathtaking!! franki

  9. laney says:

    …perfectly wonderful…blessings laney

  10. Kathleen Scheinfeld says:

    Thank you, Stacey,
    Just what I needed to put me in the holiday spirit.
    What talent and love is shown in these rooms.

  11. Karena says:

    So beautifully restored, the decor is magical! Those sconces are simply amazing and the home has much warmth and charm! Thank you Stacey!

    Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    The Reason for the Season!

  12. The Summer House, New Canaan says:

    My favorite Christmas post ever. Absolutely stunning and the architecture is wonderful. Thanks for sharing and happy holidays!

  13. Thomas Burak says:

    Stacey, what a fabulous post. Christmas as it should be: Tasteful, chic, festive and of course beautifully detailed. Thank you for the beauty you bring us throughout the year. The best to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a glorious New Year. XOXO

  14. Sylvia Treadwell says:

    Is there any place to get this article?…was it in a magazine?…was going to print it all and all the pics…but would love to find the magazine with it in it…please let me know it’s SO beautiful!…thanks!…Sylvia Treadwell…..

    • Stacey Bewkes says:

      No Sylvia – like most of the pieces here, I took all the photos and this is exclusive to the site. So glad you enjoyed.

  15. Thanks for sharing this Beautiful home decorated for Christmas! I love all the classic detailing.

  16. A stunning and thoughtful labor of love! I adore every aspect of Lisa’s house. Thank you for bringing us inside Stacey!

  17. Amy Ritchie says:

    One of my favorite houses Ever!! Thank you so much for this post- LOVE!!!

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