At first glance, Christmas at David Windstrup and Eric Hurt’s place looks just lovely.
Flames in the fireplace tickle at the bricks and mortar. Garland overhead sags against a mirrored wall, doubling the effect of its holiday cheerfulness. The beribboned tree off the end of the sofa, meanwhile, is a rainbow of glitz and glitter, from the tree-topper that scrapes at the ceiling to the pot on the rug far below.
But this is no mere setup of holiday phoofery, people. This condo in Bellevue’s Bridle Trails is the beneficiary of two decorating professionals. This is holiday dressing planned for, thought out and worried over, considered and curated. By a couple who prefer to begin their work before Halloween and leave it right where it is until the end of January.
“I will say that every year it gets a little more daunting,” Windstrup says. “It takes me about two weeks to get it up, working on weekends and days off.”
“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” comes on the player just then. Just a coincidence. Truly. Windstrup, district visual director for Macy’s, loves Christmas.
“It’s fun, but we’re up late, and we’re screaming at each other,” he says in all honesty. “But when it’s done, I love people’s reaction.”
Windstrup and Hurt are true Christmas aficionados. Their ornaments rank among the Who’s Who of holiday finery. Most of the pieces are of great value, some worth hundreds of dollars, hunted down in boutiques, online or through connections over the phone: Christopher Radko, Eric Cortina, MacKenzie-Childs. There are also Nativities, more than a dozen. (A foot-high papier-mâché camel set him back $700, but that was unusual.) And pinecone people made in Germany. Also Santas.
“We look,” he says. “We don’t just run around buying stuff. I like the search.”
Yes, Windstrup and Hurt are collectors. And they’ve got it bad. There’s also the silver, the wall of painted portraits, chinoiserie, Asian dolls, miniatures (as in doll houses and their furnishings). The overall effect makes the condo — two bedrooms and two baths — more like a compact museum.
Today, however, we’ve come to learn what the couple knows about decorating to excess — but with success.
For starters, they use an artificial tree (safer for humans and ornaments). Windstrup retired the 15-year-old job last year and found this tall drink of fir from Balsam Hill, choosing the brand for its sturdy branches and true needles. He cemented the new tree into a 5-gallon bucket (again for safety).
Windstrup then took wire cutters and weeded the branches. This enables him to hang his prized glass ornaments four deep. A red ribbon running down the center post, he says, deepens the colors.
One tree leads to another. The living room is Radko. Its crowning glory is, well, a large glass crown. In the den it’s ornaments old and/or sentimental. The master bedroom holds a “bonsai” tree (crafted by Windstrup; steel trunk, greens from Michael’s) with an Asian theme.
Windstrup is also a fan of the Putz line of holiday village houses. He could not, however, find any to the scale he preferred, so he made his own. (When you can’t buy, do.)
That living-room garland? Anchored by gilded moose antlers, dripping in icicles. Not just any icicles: “These are from the original Main Street trim from Disney World,” Windstrup says. “Before they switched from glass to plastic.” (Yes, there is a holiday-decoration underground, and Windstrup is connected.)
Could enough ever be enough for Christmas? Would/could Windstrup ever call the couple’s collections complete? One word:
Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific NW magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.