A Decorator Saves Christmas
Mai and Jim Abdo's dining room
Where would the Abdos find just the right ornaments to complement her home's mellow, minimalist style? Enter interior designer Darryl Carter, who, like Santa Claus, turned up one day with a band of merry assistants.

Carter's understated Christmas design was the perfect match for the home's décor. "I love Christmas, but I like things to blend seamlessly," he says. "The Abdos have a refined sensibility. It wouldn't make sense for their home to suddenly turn into Santa's workshop."
Mai and Jim Abdo's living room
"To me, Christmas is all about the coziness of friends and family around a fire," Carter explains, "so we went for a golden effect with the tree, almost like a sepia snowfall. We used clear glass balls and amber bows. White reflecting off amber generates a feeling of warmth."
Mai and Jim Abdo's mantle
Although at first glance the overall look was low-key, Carter dropped several inventive elements into the mix. Two apothecary jars filled with frosted cranberry and gold balls—echoing the bronzed beige walls—flanked the dining-room mantel. Giant pinecones topped an antique cement birdbath centerpiece on the table. And instead of using just pine boughs for a garland over the living-room fireplace, Carter also used pinecones and magnolia leaves.
Mai and Jim Abdo's mantle
"We left for 12 hours, and when we came back the house had been transformed into a wonderland," says Jim. "It's not often that adults get to experience that kind of surprise." Carter's 11th-hour Christmas rescue mission proved to be more than just icing on the cake. The decorations set the scene for an extended family reunion that included Mai's parents, her three sisters and brother, and all their children.

"The holiday is really about family," Mai says. "If it hadn't been for Darryl, we wouldn't have had Christmas," she adds.