Making Merry


Ever get one of those robin’s egg-blue boxes tied up with a white satin ribbon? Walking through the door of a home decorated for the Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour in East Sac is a little bit like that. You don’t know what’s in there, but you know it’s going to be fabulous. This tour always is. It’s the Tiffany of Sacramento home tours. The interior and exterior creations of top design professionals always knock you out. In 2014, about 5,000 people walked this beautifully orchestrated route through the Fab 40s—one of the city’s most elegant and storied neighborhoods. Organizers say they’re expecting at least that many this year. Five homes will open their doors on Dec. 4, 5 and 6. Oh, yeah, this is going to be good.

A lifelong fan of the tour, designer Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in East Sac, is decking two homes: a colonial and a contemporary/prairie style. Early this fall, she invited us into her own Fab 40s house for a sneak peak at her plans for those homes. “I’ve been coming on this tour since I was a little girl,” she says. “My grandma lived at 4100 Folsom, and this was one of the ways we celebrated Christmas. I was raised on this tour.” Today, as Kelly talks about her work, she ticks off an impressive list of projects: her tile, rug and furniture lines, her collaborations with several major manufacturers and the dozens of residential design jobs KKDL has lined up all over the region. But her heart? It’s in East Sac. “I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work, and knowing that I am going to be here, home, for the tour is just a great feeling,” she says. “It’s my light at the end of the tunnel.” Twinkle, twinkle.

A Merry-Time (Maritime) Christmas

A theme of boats, oars and buoys will deck the prairie-style home, celebrating the homeowners’ love of all things nautical. Crisp navy blue, white and red add zest to gathering spots in the dining room and kitchen. A rope-wrapped chandelier and pyramid of striped oars anchor the dining room table outfitted with playing cards, dice and board game pieces. Sage, rosemary, oregano and mint mingle with yellow tulips in the floral display, and cookies frosted in signal flag colors command attention on the cake stand. (Yum!) In the kitchen nook, weatherworn buoys center the table, there are petite florals at every setting, and mini chalkboards show everyone where to sit. Nubby, woven textiles warm up both tables. Takeaway 1: Stick with colors you love, especially during the holidays. Don’t tie yourself to red and green. Takeaway 2: Search the cupboards. Use what you have. Kelly’s nice, big navy-blue-and-white napkins are actually kitchen towels from Williams-Sonoma. 

Resources: “Homestead” china, Ralph Lauren; signal flag cookies, Sweet Celebrations, Sacramento; carryall “bike” bag stuffed with gifts and stenciled bike glass, KKDL; florals, Relles Florist, Sacramento.


What: Five homes in the Fabulous 40s neighborhood decked out in holiday finery, including two colonials, one prairie-style, one urban Tudor and one brick Tudor. The tour benefits Sacred Heart Parish School, 39th and H streets.

Designers: Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, Design Alchemy, Haus Home and Gift, Zina Sheya Designs 

Where: The homes are within walking distance of each other on 38th, 39th, 41st, 43rd and 47th streets.

When: December 4: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (boutique open noon to 8 p.m.) December 5: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 6: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tickets: $30 in advance; $35 on tour days. For sales information and ticket retail locations, go to 

What else? A boutique and cafe at Sacred Heart Parish School. Holiday gifts, food, drinks, wine and beer. (No ticket necessary.)

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Kelly’s wishbone theme for the colonial home wraps up her design story of feast, family and festivities. “As we’ve gone to (design) markets and different shows, we kept seeing wishbones,” she says. Their glints of gold leaf weave subtle, royal surprises through the house, accenting plaid, linen and velvet fabrics and twining through the garland of crimson roses, fragrant eucalyptus, bronzed magnolia and pine that stretches across the mantel. A pillow stenciled with the theme plumps a cozy wing chair near the fire. Takeaway 1: Save your real wishbones for wishing. Facsimiles should be popping up in craft stores. Takeaway 2: Don’t shy away from faux florals. Roses, eucalyptus and magnolia dry beautifully. Pine needles dry and make a mess. Good-quality fakes are the way to go for making garlands, wreaths and centerpieces last. 

Resources: “Cheers” candle and “We wish you a Merry Christmas” pillow (by Allie Studio, Sacramento), KKDL. Mantel garland, Relles Florist, Sacramento.