Dwelling: Let There Be Lights!

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One local couple turns to a pro to help transform their home into a winter wonderland.

One look at Steve and Cynthia Edwards’ Arden Park Vista home and you know Santa’s not going to have any trouble finding this place.

“I just love to decorate at Christmas,” Cynthia says. “I think it all stems from wanting to be creative, indoors or out. I love to be in the garden, and I love Christmas.”

This very merry match of skill and artistry begins in earnest during November, when Cynthia, an interior designer, pulls out strands and strands of carefully stored and labeled lights, unleashes her inner elf and heads out to the front yard. She wraps them around the clipped boxwood hedges, the topiaries, the camellias (no easy job when they’re blooming, which they are when she’s lacing up the branches with lights), the front gate and a pair of potted brush cherry trees. The front entry gets its yuletide style from fresh magnolia-leaf garlands and wreaths on each of the doors. When she’s all done, Cynthia calls Steve and her children—Lauren, 16, and Miles, 9—to come out and get their first look at the green, red and white wonderland. “They can peek from inside before that,” she says. “But I don’t like them to come out and see until it’s all lit.”

Actually, Cynthia says, her annual lighting gala begins sometime in October, when Polar Lites, a Sacramento exterior lighting company, outlines the roof ridges. The company decks between 130 and 150 homes in the area every holiday season; clients range from golf pros to CEOs. “I have two on-call electricians that I keep very, very, very busy,” says owner Gene Sherman. “We have a service truck that goes by our projects, and if there’s a glitch, we try to take care of it before our clients even get a chance to call.”

Polar Lites began lighting Steve and Cynthia Edwards’ former home about eight years ago. When they moved to the Arden Park Vista home, which is larger, Sherman’s job got bigger, too—especially after the trees the couple planted grew taller than Cynthia’s ladder. “I love to do the lights, so I used to do all the trees myself,” says Cynthia. “But I was up on my 10-foot ladder with my longest extension pole and I said to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ I started to realize that it could be a little dangerous.” Ever since, along with lighting up the roof, Polar Lites wraps the Edwardses’ 16-foot-plus trees.

While Sherman says Polar Lites is always taking on new projects, he especially enjoys returning year after year to decorate the homes of people he’s known for years. “I have clients whose children are graduating and getting married, and doing the lighting for those happy occasions has just become another part of the business,” he says.

When Sherman first saw the Edwardses’ Arden Park Vista home, he knew it would be a showpiece. “That’s a great project for a couple of reasons,” he says. “Cynthia knows what she wants and she’s created a really elegant display with her color scheme of green and red and white. She goes out there and puts a lot of work and a lot of love into that. For her, it’s a work of art . . . it’s really a storybook scenario.”

Cynthia admits word of her display has gotten around. “Our friends will call and say, ‘Please tell us when you’re going to turn your lights on,’ so they can come and see it.” One year, some friends were driving by and stopped to take a look. “We have a lot of brown on the house, so our friends’ sweet little daughter said, ‘Mom, their house looks just like a gingerbread house.’ And, you know, I think it kind of does.”