Scott Trevor worked at Marshall Field’s for 15 years and was as dismayed as anyone when Macy’s announced earlier this year that it would not retain the store’s legendary Chicago name. In response, he decided to honor his old employer with a Christmas decoration display worthy of the Field’s name”a display you’re not likely to see duplicated anywhere else.
Just like his house.
Trevor owns the frame home at 3630 Grand Blvd. in Brookfield. You know the one. It’s the one that looks like it was lifted right out of a Victorian storybook and into the middle of Brookfield. Replete with intricate gingerbread trim”all designed, milled and installed by Trevor. He designed all of the improvements with holiday decorating in mind. Eventually, he wants to be able to put out elaborate, handmade decorations for every holiday.
“I wanted it to look as elaborate as possible but with installation as easy as possible,” said Trevor, who’s lived in the 1908 home for the past 18 years. “When I designed the woodwork I had decorating in mind, so there are dowels to wrap things around. That’s the beauty of being your own designer and installer.”
After a three-year break from decorating the outside of his house for Christmas, Trevor returned in 2005 with a bang.
At night the home is aglow with strings of red and green old-fashioned large bulbs that frame each section of the front porch.
“Those are the lights we had as kids,” he said.
Each of the strings is somewhat of a handmade item, since every string alternates red and green bulbs.
“I buy lots of extra lights at whoever sells strings with one color,” Trevor said. “I buy them by the case, because they’re getting tougher and tougher to find, and I want to be able to do this 10 years from now.”
During the day, other features of the display are more prominent, like the handmade velvet Christmas flags, deep burgundy on one side and green on the other and flecked with gold. The flags are decorated with computer transfers of early 20th-century Christmas postcards, which Trevor collects as a hobby. The wood flagpoles are adorned with large gold globes and sparkling gold pendants.
Swags of gold-fringed red and green fabric, hang like bunting in each section of the front porch, giving the display a theatrical feel. Gold Christmas bells hang from the eaves above each porch column, while six Santa dolls, dressed in red, white and silver, stand on the column brackets.
On the porch itself, a pair of Christmas trees bear gold glass and metal ornaments and red and green lights. Above the porch, in the second floor oriel windows are Christmas wreaths entwined with red and green lights, which also frame the second floor window.
“The trees outside are new this year,” Trevor said. “I add something every year, so each year is a little different than the year before.”
Up on the rooftop
Just as he’s done for the past four or so years, Chris Stotler went outside during the nice weather just before Thanksgiving and put icicle lights along the front eaves of his house at 9524 Monroe Ave. in Brookfield.
He also rigged up a lighted arcade made of plastic tubing, only this year he made it better. Last year the arches kept blowing over. They’re in there good and solid this year with the help of steel rods that anchor them to the ground.
He put up a few lighted plastic figures”Frosty, Santa, Snoopy, one of Santa’s elves, and he ingeniously used inverted tomato cages to make light-wrapped Christmas trees.
But something was missing. Then came a brainstorm. Heck, why not just cover the entire roof in lights.
“It took me all day, basically,” Stotler said. “Trying to make sure I kept them all straight was the most important thing.”
They’re straight and there are lots of them, lights that is. Using the old-fashioned larger bulbs (“I just figured they’d be brighter and much nicer on the roof,” he said.), Stotler ran 12 strings of bulbs up from the eaves to the peak of the roof and back down again.
“I started running out of lights and had to go back and buy more,” he said. “I was up there six hours.”
When the skies dumped several inches of snow on the roof, the lights shone through with a warm glow. The snow is pretty much clear of the lights now, but snow does still cover many of the smaller lights that Stotler strung along the front yard and walkways of his property. But the light shines through to nice effect.
“That wasn’t my initial intention,” Stotler said. “When I shoveled I was able to do it, so that I got just a little glow coming out of the snow.”
Awash in light
In October the 200 block of Forest Avenue in North Riverside is the Halloween street. It’s fast becoming the Christmas street. And leading that charge is the house at 2209 Forest Ave.
Complemented by decorated houses on each side of it, 2209 Forest Ave. is simply a bevy of white lights, from the lights outlining the house to the “chains” of lights that connect rows of red and white candy canes that line the sidewalk and walkways to the house and street.
Lights ring the front bushes and six lighted stars top the gable. The only colored lights are animated ones”marquee lights that outline the front windows.
Blowup figures of Santa and a polar bear look right at home in the generous snow in front of the house. Small wood deer look as if they’re foraging for food in the snow-covered lawn.
Figures of Santa and Mrs. Claus create a Christmas scene in one of the front windows, while lighted Christmas candles provide a warm welcome at the front door.
Light as art
During the day, the trees that dot the lawn at 293 Longcommon Road in Riverside don’t betray their Christmas spirit. At night they come alive, a veritable light installation”with strings of white lights climbing 15 feet up the trunks of 10 mature trees.
Lights enliven the branches of two more trees and the bushes in front of the house. Meanwhile, dangling like delicate lighted pendants from one of the trees are several snowflakes, hanging quietly and gracefully in the air.
And installation was a breeze, said homeowner Mike Mulvihill.
“It took about a day-and-a-half,” he said.
That’s because his house is somewhat of a ringer. After wrestling with the decorations at his previous house, this year the family hired a company to do the dirty work.
“I put up the lights previously, but the lights would keep going out, so this year we decided to do this,” Mulvihill said. “My wife is from Ireland, and her house always had lot of lights.”
While the houses described above were the ones that caught our attention this year, thanks to all who nominated homes throughout the three villages and to the decorators who put in hours to make this Christmas season a merry and bright one for all of us.