Christmas in Shangri-La

Every year friend and designer Carey Karlan goes all out creating themed holiday decorations for her charming 1926 cottage-style home. Past years have included odes to Mad Men, Literary, Russian, Musical and Scottish Highland Christmases, the last landing on the cover of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens several years ago.

Carey Karlan in CTC&G

Carey Karlan in Connecticut Cottage & Gardenstwo photos above by Keith Scott Morton for CTC&G

This year, the decor was inspired by one of my favorite novels, James Hilton’s utopian fantasy Lost Horizon. Based on the Tibetan locale, Carey created a Shangri-La ambience with snowy whites, green and gold.

Christmas in Shangri La by Carey Karlan

It all started with a jacket Carey inherited from her mother, which she wore every year at the holidays. The Asian styling and pale colors brought to mind the setting for the book and it took off from there.

Carey Karlan holiday decorating inspirationThe bust is a staple in Carey’s holiday decorating schemes and this year was painted white and adorned with frosty accoutrements.

Carey Karlan Shangri-La holiday

Tinsel and metallic tones were incorporated with abandon to emulate the Himalayan paradise.

Christmas in Shangri-La

And on the mantel, giant silver acorns, spray painted pine cones and greens add to the feeling of abundance.

Carey Karlan Shangri-La inspired mantel

Carey’s house includes a small conservatory which each year, including this one, she fills to the top with a full and festive tree.

Carey Karlan Christmas tree in her conservatory

Carey’s holiday celebration always include a seating dinner coordinated with the theme

Carey Karlan Shangri-La holiday dinner

including the invitation. This year, the invite to Shangri-La came rolled on a scroll with a scene and quote from the book ,”If we do not find the heaven within, we will not find the heaven without.” A wonderful sentiment for this holiday and throughout the year!

Christmas in Shangri-La invite

all photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence unless otherwise specified


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17 Responses to Christmas in Shangri-La

  1. Carey karlan says:

    Thank you Stacey! A high compliment. So pleased the lure of Shangri-La called to you as well!

  2. Anna J. Tonarely says:

    Would love to have seen the Russian Christmas décor at Shangri-La.

  3. Pia Murphy says:

    It’s all so stunning and the acorn ornaments on the mantel are so special. Thank you

  4. Susan bowers says:

    Thank you Stacy,for sharing such wonder with all of us.
    The quote is perfect for this season and always.
    Enjoy your holiday….
    You bring such beauty and joy to all .
    Your fan,
    Susan Bowers

  5. This display of Joy is inspiring me to dig a little deeper. Thank you. Merry Christmas. xo Mary

  6. Loretta says:

    Beautiful!Thanks for your inspiring ideas!

  7. Lucy says:

    Delightful and SO inspiring!

  8. franki says:

    I LOVE THE WAY SHE THINKS!!!! (and decorates!!!) franki

  9. mary morant says:

    One of my favorite homes in Darien…Carey always makes her place
    so gezellig (as the Dutch say) and inviting!! Love seeing this! Thank you!

  10. Laurel Bern says:

    Carey’s home is enchantingly gorgeous and I love the invitation too! Thanks for sharing with us Stacey and happy holidays!

  11. KATHYSUE says:

    What a treat to see such elegance and opulence, the mantel decor is so stunning and the elegant use of Tartan plaid is stunning.

  12. Addison says:

    Great idea! I love this Shangri-La theme! Gorgeous decorations!

  13. Enjoyed this post so much as I enjoy a coffee break before launching into some Christmas baking. Amongst all the delights, the dinner plates caught my eye–maybe I’m hungry. Perhaps you will give us a menu report later😎

  14. Lucy says:

    Could not be any more beautiful and the quote too is womderful.

  15. Rebecca Fisher says:

    I loved seeing the difference in decor between the Tartan Christmas decor and the Shangri-La decor. Very educational and both were enchanting!

  16. So glad you shared these spectacular photos of Carey’s ‘enchanted space’…certainly a heaven within. Love the way you captured and used the light from the window!

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