Drive over the river. Turn left at the woods. You'll come to Carole and Bill Meyer's Portland home -- a grandchild's (and an inner child's) paradise if ever there was one. There are cabinets full of toys, closets full of dress-up clothes, and pots of paint in terrific colors waiting to be used in abundance to create artwork galore. And the holidays only make the Meyers' home even more spirited.
Most decorating color conventions are thrown aside in this bright and vibrant home with a chili-pepper red family room and a taxi-cab yellow living room. But a bit of conventional wisdom prevails: Use color where it can easily be changed -- on walls, pillows, and artwork. Upholstered furniture and other investment pieces are best left fairly neutral.
The bright walls actually make holiday decorating easier: Freed from the tyranny of decorating conventions, the focus can be put on a few areas with the greatest impact -- the tree, the mantel, the table -- and the rest of the house trimmed minimally with stars, candles, and flowers.
And that's actually another trick for simplifying holiday decorating: Choose a single motif, and vary it throughout the house. Carole has been enthralled with stars since gazing at a dazzling sky in Mexico one memorable night.
No doubt the colors of Mexico have also influenced her decorating choices. Made from boiled wool, red and yellow stockings and pillows add pulsating color to the practical white woodwork and upholstery.
Another decorating rule that's shattered in this house is continuity of color. Just about every room is a different color; the only thing that joins them is the intensity of the hues.
The violet-blue dining room invites lively conversation. Pure and smooth, the color is a perfect backdrop for the mottled hues and rough surfaces of the antique furniture.
At the end of the day, when the fairy dust of holiday activity has settled, Bill and Carole retreat to a master suite that's blissfully free of holiday excess. The walls are the restful shade of a night sky.
Just a few more glass stars for Carole's constellation, however, have found a place on the mantel along with a bowl of holiday paperwhites. And an antique star quilt on the bed carries the star theme through the year.