Governor’s Mansion decorates with hand-crafted Vintage Victorian old and new
Each year during the Christmas season, the Missouri Governor invites visitors to see inside the Governor’s Mansion in all its festive glory. Here’s a sneak peek into the decorations and inspiration of Missouri’s first family.
For ideas and inspiration, Mansion Director Lesley Bickel searches the pages of Pinterest and other decor websites and looks to another famous house – The White House. Last year the mansion had five trees decorated on the main floor, with one large tree in the nook. Each had its own theme showcasing a little of Missouri¹s heritage, with dogwoods and bluebirds.
“When choosing this year’s decorations, we’ve really have tried to scale back and let the mansion shine through,” Bickel said. “Vintage Victorian will be the theme this year and because the home is historic, placing items that are too trendy just doesn’t look right and competes with the decorations.”
According to Bickel, First Lady Georganne Nixon approves the design samplings and has a hand in the decision making of all the public spaces, as well as their private decorations and tree in their living quarters. The Governor’s Docents, or mansion tour guides, also help out, volunteering their time to decorate and craft new ornaments,” she added.
“This year, the mansion will feature hand-made ornaments, some of which were used last year, along with purchased pieces to bring the look together. Mixing old and new, store-bought and handmade,
provides a nice balance, and is easier on the budget,” said Bickel.
As the months draw closer to Christmas, Bickel usually has found many pieces she likes. She puts them together in boxes, takes them out, rearranges, adds or eliminates. The process won’t be complete until each tree is decorated, and every light is lit. Inside her inspiration boxes are blush pearl clusters, gold ribbon, small vintage picture frames featuring sheet music, glittered music notes and a touch of white and metallic. Another box features little bluebird ornaments, small white pearls glued together over a larger ornament, gold and white candles, vintage glittered photos of winter scenes and blue and
white ball ornaments. Fresh greenery and real trees are also added to the decorations.
“The First Lady loves everything to be fresh. That is the best day, the house just smells like Christmas,” she said of the day the trees and poinsettias are delivered.
A 16-18 foot tree is used in the nook, with a tall angel placed on top. The whole mansion holds its breath as the tree is set up, and watches as it’s squeezed under the large chandelier. Bickel said one thing she’s learned these past few years is that normal size ornaments can get lost in such a large house. However, when buying larger ornaments, they are often heavier as well. Finding the right balance is sometimes challenging.
The mansion will be decorated the week after Thanksgiving, with visitors welcome for Candlelight Tours Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7. Governor Nixon will flip the switch that Friday evening, turning the lights on for the season.