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Five shelter magazines invited to create "Magazine Holiday Design Showcase" for U.S. State Department

Posted on Wednesday, December 02, 2009.

Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Mother Earth News, Natural Home, This Old House and Traditional Home have been invited to help decorate 17 rooms for the December holiday season at the U.S. State Department’s Harry S. Truman Building and the Blair House in Washington, DC. The “Magazine Holiday Design Showcase” is planned as an annual event and is part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the furnishings and art in both the Blair House and the State Department.

The magazines will work closely with the State Department to design rooms rarely seen by the public as part of a month-long display called "Magazine Holiday Design Showcase," which debuts December 7. Each title will develop designs for their rooms that best reflect the individual style and tradition of their brands and interests of their readers. The rooms to be designed are some of the most storied in our nation’s history and will be visited by hundreds of guests including foreign leaders, diplomats, Senators, Congressmen and dignitaries during the month of December.

Many of the magazines will feature their designs in print, television or on the Web, offering the public an exclusive look into these private spaces.

“Magazines excel as arbiters of design, fashion and style, and this unprecedented effort reflects the strength of our medium,” said Nina Link, President and CEO, Magazine Publishers of America, which spearheaded the effort on behalf of the consumer magazine industry. “MPA welcomed the chance to bring together such distinguished magazines to infuse some of the nation's most historic rooms with beauty and holiday cheer. This initiative showcases each magazine’s unique voice and design sensibility through the lens of American traditions.”

“The Diplomatic Reception Rooms in the Harry S. Truman building of the State Department and the selected rooms in the Blair House have bared witness to some of our nation’s greatest diplomatic achievements and display some of the proudest moments in our history,” said Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, Chief of Protocol of the United States. “Our partnership with the MPA and the work of these prestigious publications is an historic effort that will truly illuminate these storied rooms for the holidays.”

Magazines will be decorating the following rooms:

The Blair House Front Room (Better Homes and Gardens), with its coral-colored upholstery and a vivid Serapi-style rug set the tone for a holiday palette of green, coral, and maroon. The magazine's overall design scheme celebrates the relationship between home and garden, indoor spaces and out. Focal points in this room will include a pomegranate-embellished wreath above the sofa augmented by pomegranate-filled bowls at the sofa’s sides. The fireplace mantel will be layered with greens and coral-colored poinsettias mixed with hints of sparkle.

The Blair House Back Room (Better Homes and Gardens) will feature a show-stopping nine-foot Christmas tree covered in coral-colored ornaments resting among a sea of poinsettias. Additional decorations will include unadorned miniature conifers mixed with mercury glass accessories, resulting in a mini-forest effect.

The Blair House Garden (Better Homes and Gardens) will take on an enchanting intimacy through the use of lighting, indigenous natural materials and unexpected elements. Lighted shrubs along the courtyard’s perimeter serve as a backdrop for iron urns lushly planted with magnolia, winterberry and cabbages. In the courtyard’s center is the focal-point fountain area featuring ornamented trees and stainless steel balls in surprising places.

The Blair House Dining Room's (Martha Stewart Living) rich colors of coral and pale green inspired a candy themed design. The Martha Stewart Collection, which includes a Confectionery Tree covered in lollipop and sugar cookie ornaments, is a perfect match for the dining room. Beautiful delicate glass jars of candies will grace the mantel and a gingerbread replica of the original Blair House will live in the window alcove.

The Blair Entry Way (Martha Stewart Living) will be simply but beautifully enhanced with a gold oak leaf wreath, crystal garlands and a gold feather tree. A very special handmade tree base, a lit and glittered facade of the Blair House, will start everyone’s visit with a joyful reminder of the beauty and warmth of the holiday spirit.

The Lee Drawing Room at Blair House (Martha Stewart Living) features amazing antique bird wallpaper, which made using a tall tree with flocks of glittered birds as the centerpiece a natural choice. Branches of birds in the wallpaper will be brought to three dimensions by creating a gilded branch arrangement that will span the archway in the middle of the room.

The Jackson Place Sitting Room and the Jackson Place Dining Room at Blair House (Mother Earth News) will be decorated with nontraditional decorations featuring heirloom varieties of the world’s three primary grains—corn, wheat and rice. Christmas trees, which became symbols of national unity following the Civil War, will highlight that mission by displaying dove-shaped cookies featuring the flags of 192 nations.

The Adams Room at the State Department (Mother Earth News and Natural Home) will feature ever-popular apples to anchor the holiday decorations. Growers from across the country are providing rare, heirloom varieties to fill bowls and perfume the air in this elegant room. Mother Earth News will provide information cards about each variety.

The Monroe Room at the State Department and the Jackson Conference and Jackson Entryway rooms at Blair House (Natural Home) will be tastefully decorated with recycled, reused, homemade and local items. Presents wrapped using reused paper and salvaged household materials will be on display, along with takeaway cards explaining how to wrap this way at home. A relaxation area will hold organic teas in recycled cups and chocolates presented on recycled glass trays.

The Lincoln Room at Blair House (This Old House), arguably the most historic room in Blair House, will feature an architecturally themed design. Ornaments will be based on the room’s period, Federal-style furnishings and details. Ornate plaster ceiling medallions will become wreaths, and brass hardware—including a replica of the room’s 1824 keyhole cover—will double as tree trimmings. Woodwork will be played up using garlands of greens and fruits.

In the Truman Study at Blair House (This Old House) visitors will be taken back to Christmases of 1948 through 1952 when President Harry S. Truman and his family lived at Blair House while the White House underwent a restoration. While the family often spent the holidays back in Independence, Missouri, it can be imagined that it was at Blair House where many gifts and greetings would land. By integrating into the design items inspired by ones noted in an official gift list from the Christmas of 1951—various tokens that everyday Americans felt compelled to send him—This Old House will offer a glimpse of the President’s life at Blair House around the holidays. Further personalizing the room will be decorations crafted from vintage photographs of Truman, his family and Blair House.

The Lee Dining Room at Blair House (Traditional Home) will honor past and future guests from around globe by including items from many cultures—from glass table pieces in the shape of minarets to porcelain with a Japanesque flair. The table, set for the holidays, brings together old and new with century-old napkins, new crystal and small gift packages. Arrangements in the terrines include magnolia leaves, studded oranges and persimmons, while the mantel is decorated with soft greens and golds, including golden delicious apples. A small Victorian tree in front of an antique mirror is trimmed with antique ornaments.

The Lee Entrance Room at Blair House (Traditional Home) will reflect a new administration as it radiates a sense of approachability and invitation. The welcoming front door wreath sets the palette for the dining room with fig- and chartreuse-colored satin ribbon and the indigenous Osage oranges, horse apples and juniper with mistletoe berries. Urns on the console table in the entry hall are filled with persimmon branches in a stylized arrangement that mimics the wallpaper in the adjacent Lee Drawing room. Traditional cedar garland studded with oranges and persimmon swaths the stairs.

Visit www.magazine.org/holiday2009 for more information.