This Festive Chicago Home Celebrates Christmas Traditions in Style
A suburban Chicago couple welcomes family to a season of sparkling lights, beautiful rooms, and lasting memories.
Tradition runs deep during the holiday season: the food, the decorations, the treasured memories of family. And nowhere is that more evident than at William and Mary Castellano's Hinsdale, Illinois, home.
Setting the stage is the property itself, which the Castellanos bought in 2009. The couple loved that the land held a home constructed in 1926 by Harold Zook, an architect responsible for building the town of Hinsdale. Unfortunately, the structure wasn't in good enough shape to renovate. But its legacy remained in the Castellanos' mind's eye when they started work on a new house in 2011.
"It was so important to us that we maintain Harold's vision as much as we could," says Mary, who directed the home's design. "Even though we had to take the house down and start over, we were committed to keeping the long drive with trees, the old iron gates, and the original stone wall that we restored. We let the original components of the land direct the new architecture of the house."
Respecting and preserving the vision of historic architecture came naturally for Mary and William. Both of Italian heritage, their appreciation is perhaps intrinsic to their DNA. They make frequent visits to Italy, where they immerse themselves in some of the most classic building principles on earth. Their attention to detail led them to a house plan that glorifies classical geometry and details such as molding, paneling, and coffered ceilings.
The home also celebrates something even more important: the couple's devotion to family and the traditions that come with gatherings of all the Castellano kin. Here's where everyone gathers to dip a fork in Mary's homemade ravioli, to sing Christmas songs, to swap gifts, to make memories.
During the holiday season, the house welcomes with warmth and sparkle in the foyer. Notably, lighted swags of greenery softly illuminate the soaring staircase. A center table topped with a poinsettia invites friends and family into a Christmas mood that's festive but not overwhelming. To offset the straight lines of wall paneling and the long iron stair railing, thick-walled arches that celebrate old-world craftsmanship rise on each side of the entry space, framing both William's library and the dining room. Mary designed the staircase that climbs to an heirloom grandfather clock.
The light and bright palette looks beautiful when sunshine pours through the windows, and it's enhanced during the Christmas season when bits of sparkle dance throughout decorations.
To balance the airiness, Mary called on comfortably cocooning dark tones. In the library, for example, she used walnut to clad the room from floor to ceiling, creating a cozy environment for the couple to sit and talk every evening. Architectural details including millwork, a chevron floor, and a coffered ceiling add a warm layer of texture. A pair of oversize chairs and a tufted ottoman covered in olive velvet are the perfect complement to a Christmas tree.
The living room borrows the pale blue of its walls from the Italian Riviera, where Mary's family lives. Creamy silk velvet upholstery, long wool window panels that stretch the height of the walls, and a quartzite fireplace bring visual harmony. Audible harmony, meanwhile, emerges from the grand piano, which the Castellanos' daughter, who earned her master's degree in music, frequently plays. A pair of matching sofas and a tufted bench with nailhead trim wear ivory-hue silk velvet. The large scale of the furniture, piano, and windows pivots to dainty details including drapery trim and crystal details on the mirror and sconces.
On top of wide-plank oak floors, a black-painted armoire with gold accents balances the sparkle of the living room Christmas tree.
A gold color scheme in the dining room wraps a large round table with an opulent glow that's echoed by crackling embers in the limestone fireplace. Covered in greenish-gold velvet, stately dining chairs amplify the regal suggestion of the palette. Not one to ignore ceilings, Mary added cove molding for interest. Coral silk used as window panels surprises as an unexpected accent.
An iron-and-crystal chandelier and matching wall sconces marry heft and elegance as they illuminate the dining area. Wintergreens adorn the mantel while wrapped packages mingle on the mahogany sideboard.
The Castellanos rely on two rooms in their home to satisfy casual living. Defined by a soaring fireplace and a ceiling that contrasts white paint and dark beams, the family room is where the couple enjoys time with visitors. Oversize chairs and a sofa, all covered in chenille, surround a leather ottoman and provide plenty of spots to perch and enjoy conversation. A bedecked tree commands the same prominence as large-scale furniture positioned over a gold-tone rug.
With doors that open to the loggia, the hearth room, known to the family as "The Retreat," is intended to extend indoor-outdoor living during the warm months. But the rustic space, capped by a knotty cedar ceiling, also invites a sports crowd with swivel chairs that can turn toward the stone fireplace or the big television that hangs on the opposite wall. The rustic complexion of this casual retreat calls for Christmas decorations, including mini trees and greenery that rests on the distressed mantel, in their most natural forms.
Two islands in the white-and-marble kitchen direct traffic away from the work area. "I like to host friends and family and set out buffet-style food," Mary says. The white-on-white kitchen allows Calacatta marble slabs on the countertops and backsplash to star. Mary keeps holiday adornment (greenery on the French limestone hood and at the window and one large poinsettia) out of the way so it doesn't interfere with her seasonal cooking and baking
The kitchen serves as entertaining headquarters at Christmas, when Mary celebrates with a handful of her friends and later the whole extended family. With a rapt audience, Mary creates her famous Italian feast. The traditional cuisine fills the family for their other favorite things: harmonizing on beloved carols and watching as loved ones open special gifts.
The circular silhouette of the breakfast room table repeats the curved shapes of arched and round windows.
The master bedroom is a lesson in refinement. Restful pale blue colors the walls, wool drapery panels, and bed linens. Calacatta marble on the bedroom's carved fireplace informs the glamorous bathroom. Art glass adds architectural pizzazz at the arched window.
Ready to embrace a visitor, the guest bedroom's toasty gold palette welcomes with soft fabrics. A tester gracefully highlights a black-painted headboard, and a modern damask pattern hangs at the window.
To pull off such beautiful and meaningful Christmases, Mary starts planning early for the festivities.
"We have a big family, and it's important that we all know each other," Mary says. "That's what Christmas in this house represents—it's the place to spend holidays with the people we love the most. Everyone arrives dressed up, and it's our big event. I have so many years of pictures from this gathering, and they are the treasures that I hold most dear."
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