Saturday, December 6, 2014

Newport Holiday Decorations 2014

Instead of any major travels, this season we are taking some shorter trips closer to home. More and more sites are promoting their holiday decor, so this week we spend a couple days in the Newport, Rhode Island area.

Our first stop was Blithewold, in Bristol, Rhode Island. This home, while grand, is much smaller and homelike than the Newport mansions. The volunteers decorated throughout, with different themes. Some of these were clever interpretations, and all were lovely. The centerpiece, however, was the tree that was tall enough to reach the second floor in the stair hall.

The next day we toured three of the Newport mansions: The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms.

If you have never been to visit these mansions, you will probably have a hard time grasping the size and grandeur. These "palaces" were only intended for the summer season, so any holiday decor is a modern interpretation. Photography is not normally permitted, but during this season they do allow photographs of the main decorated areas in the three houses. Frankly, most of the decorating looked pretty much like what you would see an any upscale shopping mall or grand hotel lobby. It does seem like an uphill battle: Do you do simple designs that will be lost among the house's architecture, or try to match or out do it? 

The "Poinsettia Tree" under the watchful eye of a Breakers staff member.

The most intriguing aspect for me was the use of LED candles, which provided a lifelike, flickering flame effect. These are perfect for house museums, and also for people who don't want live flames around.

Marble House and The Breakers are both so over the top, that the floral decorations didn't have a chance (I didn't even have the heart to take a picture of the main hall at Marble House - even with a wreath of enormous size on the marble wall, it still looked just sad. The Elms, more restrained in its elegance, seemed like better coordination of color and theme.

A decorated mantelpiece at The Elms

The Elms grand holiday tree
But all was not lost. We had breakfast and lunch at Annie's restaurant on Bellevue Avenue - where the kitchen staff puts up the ceiling decorations. Apparently there will be a contest to guess the number of ornaments.