Empty nesters, Sam and Jeff Burkhardt, have lived in their Colonial house in Lakeview for 26 years. The 100-year-old house, completely renovated after Katrina, is filled with beautiful collections of antiques, accessories, and sentimental treasures that tell this family's personal story. There's the garden furniture from Sam's childhood home repainted hot pink, the "crown" silver bowl that her son, Johnston, gave her for her birthday the year it fell on Mardi Gras day, and the many handcrafted elements and artworks they've created over the years.
With its lively color scheme and fresh interior design, this charming home exudes happiness and joy, especially at Christmas when Sam's many talents truly shine.
Sam decorates the day after Thanksgiving in order to enjoy the holiday décor the entire season. "All of my gifts will be under the tree on that Friday and festive embellishments that complement each room in the house will be in place." Her stunning tree holds over 800 ornaments (they had to switch to an artificial tree the year the fresh one toppled over under the weight) and many of them commemorate favorite family vacations and milestone events. The true showstoppers are Sam's expansive collection of iconic Shiny Brites. Shiny Brite ornaments, introduced by Corning Glass in 1937, were the most popular ornaments across the nation throughout the 1940s and 1950s. This vintage look — classic and all American — suits Sam's sunny personality and vibrant home perfectly.
I love how she uses shimmery balls and tinsel trees to accent her collection of silver Revere bowls, compotes, and vessels. There's something about the chic simplicity of soft metallic glass and sparkling antique silver that is magical to me. Using tinsel wire and favorite ornaments, Sam made jolly collars for cherished Staffordshire porcelain dogs and a garland for a gilt mirror. She even hot glued one little red ball for a Rudolph nose on antique antlers. It pops right off as soon as the yearly sleigh ride is over. Another mirror is draped with a garland of silver picture frames. "My yearly tradition is to give my son, nieces, nephews, and godchildren an ornament holding a special snapshot of them. This garland is made up of some of my son's collection."
Sam's gift wrapping is spectacular, revealing the great artistry and care she puts into each exuberantly festooned presentation. She's collected vintage baubles, exquisite brooches, antique velvet ribbon, and silk satin trim for 30 years. Her favorite hunting grounds include Parisian flea markets, M&J Trimming in New York, estate sales, and antique shops around the world. "My office, where I spend hours painting, making jewelry, and working on interior design projects, is filled with boxes and drawers of every type of art and crafting material. Long before Pinterest made it easy, I stored ideas in scrapbooks that I've covered in bright pink paper. I love the entire creative process; it's so relaxing and therapeutic."
For the beautifully adorned gifts, she carefully wraps the lid and the bottom of the package separately, so that the recipient can keep the box long after opening, rather than just tossing it away. "And as with all of my decorating, I go the extra step to get the last detail done. For wrap, I shred my own paper to get the color of fill I want and make my own gift tags from my watercolors or drawings. Details are what complete the look and bring the wow factor." I couldn't agree more. The Burkhardts' home is so aligned with what American-made Shiny Brite ornaments symbolized in their heyday — optimism, family, and tradition. It's going to be a really great season.
This article appeared in the Holiday 2021 edition of Adore