It’s the holiday season, and for many designers in the DMV, that provides the opportunity to participate in the annual Light Up The Season charity event benefiting Children’s National.
The event, held on Sunday, Dec. 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Four Season Hotel in Washington, DC, highlights collaborations between Children’s National patients and notable area artists and interior designers. Together they create custom holiday trees, mantelpieces, menorahs and dollhouses (all available for purchase).
The event also includes holiday arts and crafts, ornament making, musical performances, pop-up shops, photos with Santa, cookie making and visits from Children’s National’s Dr. Bear.
We spoke with four NoVA-based designers who are participating in this year’s event, Allie Mann and Alexandria Hubbard of Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.; Pamela Harvey of Pamela Harvey Interiors; and Quintece Hill-Mattauszek of Studio Q Designs, about their inspiration behind their creations and what this event means to them. See below for highlights from our conversation.
Sugar Plum Tree
Created by Allie Mann and Alexandria Hubbard of Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.
The Design: Enter into the realm of fantasy with the Sugar Plum Tree, a tree designed on the inside and out with a deconstructed Christmas tree fort and a hideaway door, inspired by patient Bella, who wanted a haven to relax, draw and explore her imagination.
What was your inspiration behind the tree?
AM: The inspiration for our Sugar Plum Tree came from the wonderful imagination that our patient artist has. We designed a whimsy hideaway in ombre pink with pops of purple, which are two favorites of our young friend. In our early planning stages, we realized what we wanted to create. When we first met our ambassador, we learned that she had only been to the hospital for procedures and not for anything special or fun. It seemed appropriate that our tree carry the “hideaway” theme, a place to run and hide, play, read a story or let your thoughts take you somewhere other than where you are, especially if you are not feeling well. Our “treepee” is the perfect play space for any child!
What detail of your design are you most proud of?
AH: The one detail we are the most proud of is incorporating Beads of Courage from Children’s National’s Beads of Courage Program, specifically beads that reflect the story of our patient artist, Bella. We have beads that reflect girl power. Her love of art and cats, her parents and even birthday beads, because our patient artist just celebrated a birthday in October. Those are just a few of the many beads people can look for on our tree.
What is your biggest piece of design advice for the holiday season for people decorating their trees at home?
AM: For folks decorating their tree at home, have fun and anything goes. If you want a themed tree, that’s great. Or if you want a tree full of your favorite heirloom ornaments or your favorite Target finds, perfect. I think the tree is more about the fun and joy it brings when decorating it rather than what is actually on it.
Modern Farmhouse Dollhouse and Tree
Created by Pamela Harvey of Pamela Harvey Interiors
The Design: Pamela Harvey created a holiday display that includes a 7.5-foot tree with a modern farmhouse aesthetic. It also includes a modern farmhouse-themed dollhouse, with holiday lighting, wallpaper, carpets, etc. inside the small house.
What does this event mean to you personally?
The holiday season is a time to reflect and give back. When my daughter, Marissa, was 15 years old, she became very sick and started losing weight. I took her to the Children’s National emergency room and she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. She and I spent the next five days and nights there, working with the dedicated team at Children’s to get her diabetes under control and teach us how to manage this disease. We learned how to carefully measure insulin and practiced injections with oranges. I will be forever grateful to them for, really, saving her life and teaching us the skills and knowledge to live with this disease for the rest of her life.
What are small features about your tree you are most proud of?
We were inspired by our patient to create a holiday tree and dollhouse combination presentation. We used things that are textured and interesting to touch and feel, such as a combination of beads, ornaments, simple shapes and color. The overall color theme of our presentation is black and white with touches of green. Our tree is what I call an elevated “Charlie Brown” vibe adorned with handmade, custom clay ornaments imprinted with animal shapes in black, mixed with simple ornaments in black, gray and green. To give it a modern farmhouse look, we added touches in galvanized metal including a star on top and a collar for the base.
The dollhouse was a kit we assembled and decorated. We added designer wallcoverings and faux marble and wood flooring to customize it. All of the bedding, rugs and pillows were cut and sewn by the Pamela Harvey Interiors team. We furnished the house with farmhouse style furniture and added ceiling light fixtures that turn on. Our house is decorated with a tree and window wreaths and is holiday ready!
Adorable Curiosity on Winter’s Day
Created by Quintece Hill-Mattauszek of Studio Q Designs
The Design: Mice are used as symbols of youth and innocence, with courage, adorable curiosity and a perspective of the world entirely different than adults’. Society has embraced mice in children’s literature for decades, and this tree brings that playfulness to life.
What was your inspiration behind the tree?
The inspiration for the tree design was my patient artist’s favorite book, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff.
What’s a small detail about the tree you’d like to share?
This tree was entirely made from scratch. The “iced branches” on the tree were hand-sculpted out of acrylic cake pop sticks and illuminated by a blue uplight for effect, but the falling snow detail is the most whimsical detail of the tree.
What is your biggest design advice for the holiday season?
Mixing your materials! Gold, wood, resin, glass, glitter … don’t be afraid to add and use unexpected items on your decor. As long as they spark a holiday emotion, you’re free to be as creative as you like.
For tickets to this year’s Light Up The Season event, visit childrensnational.org.
For more holiday stories, check out our Holiday Headquarters and subscribe to our e-newsletters.