An Interfaith Family Festively Blends Holiday Décor with Glamour
For designer Lisa Ehrlich and her husband, Randy, the holiday season is a time to honor family and friends of all faiths—a tradition that was established when they started dating 17 years ago. “Randy celebrated Hanukkah growing up and had never had a tree,” she recalls. “My family celebrated Christmas, and for me, not having a tree was a nonstarter.” The couple hit upon the perfect compromise: They would observe Hanukkah and Christmas that year. “He gave me a gold heart ornament that he had engraved with a Dremel tool,” Ehrlich says. “I think that’s something only an orthopedic surgeon would do.”
These days, the spirit of the holidays is present everywhere in the Ehrlich’s English Manor-style home, from menorah-topped mantels and layers of fresh greens to beautifully decorated gingerbread houses. “I don’t do red and green and never have,” Ehrlich says. “I like a richer, more glamorous look.” The stage is set in the foyer with its double-height ceiling and marble floors. “As the entry point for the house, it’s the place to showcase my philosophy of holiday décor, which is deeply rooted in tradition,” she notes. Here, white-pine garlands drape across the wraparound banister on the second floor, and a pair of honed white marble demilune tables displays the nutcrackers that Ehrlich has been collecting for nine years. “My daughter and I started seeing the Nutcracker together when she was two,” she says. “It’s become a mother/daughter tradition that I hope to carry forward for many years.”
In the dining room, with its peacock blue and green metallic wallpaper, an elegant tablescape of glass trees adds a touch of modern sparkle, while an antique French vitrine topped by a gold menorah, the first bought as a couple, is a nod to her husband’s roots. (Although this menorah is purely for decoration, the family lights another one every night of Hanukkah.) Even the 1920s bar cart is festively dressed with fresh greens, a silver wreath and a bowl of mercury-glass ornaments.
The luxe look carries over into the living room, whose white and cream palette serves as the perfect backdrop for a Parisian limestone fireplace. On the mantel, a grouping of white metal cone trees flank a silver menorah with blue candles, while a garland of twined blue, silver and gold balls cascades down the sides. Here, too, is the family’s Christmas tree, festooned with ornaments collected during their travels—“some fancy, some cheeky,” Ehrlich says. Among them, a red gondola on skis from Vail, an Eiffel Tower from Paris, and from Hershey Park, a s’mores set-up. “We decided that first year our tree would be a celebration of our lives together. Every year when it goes up, it is a wonderful walk down memory lane,” she adds.
And that’s just one of four trees in the house—another occupies the second-floor landing, two more are in the children’s rooms, decorated with ornaments of their choosing. Last year, Ella, opted for a white tree with pink lights, while Daniel, chose a dog motif. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, two strings stretched across the window of the breakfast nook display an impressive collection of holiday cards. “It’s the first of the holiday décor to go up,” says Ehrlich. “And it’s the last to come down.”
The Ehrlichs love to entertain, and one of the most eagerly anticipated traditions of the season is their annual holiday party. Last year, the family-friendly affair included a dreidel-spinning contest and a visit from Santa, who handed out Pez dispensers to the youngsters. But nothing compares to the anticipation of Christmas morning when everyone comes downstairs to open presents and stockings—including Gus and Molly, the family dogs, both of whom are rescues. “They get very excited,” notes Ehrlich. “They always have some sort of beefy treat and stuffed toys in their stockings, plus wrapped presents beneath the tree.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: In Perfect Harmony.