PORTLAND, Maine — “There is no place like home for the holidays,” croons the old chestnut.
In Portland this month, there is no place like someone else’s home to steal decorating ideas.
The first annual Holiday Home Tour, Nov. 22-23 showcases grand homes in the city’s West End. Attendees can get a glimpse behind the mahogany and glass-paneled doors to glean festive ideas, baking tips and inspiration from the Victorian neighborhood as the area’s top interior designers unleash their creativity on five high-profile addresses.
Monique Violette of The Styled Home is decorating Gary’s House on State Street. The 1833 Federal style home, now a guest house for Mercy Hospital, is rarely open to the public. Violette is decorating the living room and Pottery Barn will take over the dining quarters.
“The key to any display this year is holiday bling,” said Violette, placing little silver birds, a faux boxwood plant and a silver tray to “add that sparkle and shine” to a mantel.
Working with natural elements such as a burlap tablecloth, greens, twigs and silver, “things that don’t scream holiday,” is trendy this year.
But, like snowflakes, no two homes will be the same. Each is styled by a local design firm, whose representatives will be on hand during the tours to dispense tips. Of the five homes on parade, one was featured on HGTV.
“People are looking for inspiration,” said co-organizer Marcy Boynton. “It’s a fun afternoon out with a girlfriend or a sister.”
Co-produced by Kennebunkport event planner Lana Wescott, the tour showcases the West End’s “charming and architecturally beautiful” homes.
“There is definitely a curiosity factor,” she said.
Wescott and Boynton, the team behind Portland Kitchen Tours, know how to put on a show. This kicks off a new series of events culminating with a wine and beer tasting and tour in Scarborough in June.
Next weekend, tour-goers can peruse these opulent homes, ask questions and dine on holiday bites from area chefs and caterers. Cranberry Island Kitchen, All Whipped Up, Kids Gone Raw and CVC Catering lay out their most festive spreads. Maine cookbook author George Manzo Joachim will be on hand to sign “A Taste of it All,” and talk holiday hits.
Those who go house to house on the brick lined sidewalks will find “small homes, big homes, all have a common theme,” said Wescott. “Each one has a story to tell,” added Boynton.
How to deck the halls this year
Monique Violette of The Styled Home shares holiday decorating tips:
• Use natural elements: Bring things from the outdoors in for centerpieces. “Take a look at what you have around the home — berries, twigs, branches. Create a connection to the outdoors. Everyone is more in tune with using what they have.”
• Think green: “Repurpose your silverware, vases. Silver adds sparkle and shine to any centerpiece or arrangement.”
• Create a timeless scene that doesn’t scream holiday, but winter. With silver and greens accents “you can take it through the winter. Different from the bright sparkle and shine.”
• Bird is the word: Bird and owl figurines “whether they have feathers are made of paper or mercury glass, they are definitely all in and can be used in so many different ways.”
• DIY: “People are really thinking about the materials they use, the look that they really want and quite frankly their budget. Using things that you own is very cost effective and great for the environment.”
• Don’t forget to bling it: Even with natural accents, “holiday bling” never goes out of style. Polish your silver vessels to “add that sparkle and shine” to a mantel.
Portland’s Holiday Home Tour is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, and noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. A portion of ticket proceeds benefits Gary’s House. For information, visit thedivineseries.com.