Story by Suzanne Gibson | Nov 02, 2015
Photography by Travis Duncan
It’s about children and the element of surprise at the Kampeter house.
One of Karen Kampeter’s favorite things about holiday decorating is the opportunity to work with Devan Netcott, home décor consultant with Hy-Vee. This year is the third season the duo has worked together to create seasonal magic at the Kampeter home.
“I enjoy Devan’s fun-loving personality and his talent is amazing,” Kampeter says. “We share the same vision and he knows what to do to make it all look so good. A couple of years ago my children found a themed tree they liked, and Devan took it from there by adding in our personal touches. He pulled colors from the tree to decorate throughout the rest of the house. The result is just wow.”
Because of his floral duties and other seasonal projects this year, Netcott found it necessary to pair back to eight houses instead of the 16 he decorated last year. He agrees that a shared vision with Kampeter makes light work of this project.
“Karen has an easy-going personality and she is great to work with,” Netcott says.” She puts a lot of thought into things, is good with details and gives helpful feedback. On the other hand, she trusts me and lets me run with it,” he says. “Having lots of room to create makes this project all the more satisfying.”
Kampeter first enlisted the help of Netcott when she decided to step away from the more traditional Christmas tidings. While it was her children, Alex and Ava, who influenced her toward a playful theme, she still wanted touches of elegance for areas that had grown-up appeal.
“No doubt it’s a lighthearted theme,” Kampeter says. “My favorite touches are the elves that are whimsical and look like they are really enjoying themselves. They soften up everything, and we carried them throughout and even up the banister in the hearth room. Just about everywhere you look, you see one of these playful creatures. Devan put in so many different little surprises that one day you might see something new you haven’t noticed before.”
While imagination knows no boundaries in nearly every room of the downstairs, Kampeter claims the more formal entryway as among her favorite Christmas décor. There sits a magnificent hand-carved Nativity scene from Jerusalem at the bottom of the grand winding staircase where white and antique gold tones add to its classy ambiance. It is from this vantage point that guests step into the living room to catch their first glimpse of childlike wonder. Here sits a 12-foot tree adorned with bulbs of all sizes and shapes, colorful lights and ribbons and an array of other fanciful adornments.
The massive Christmas tree sports elves, candy, Jack-in-the boxes, glitter balls and big colorful lights that spill from every branch. Many of the decorations revolve around the children’s interests, such as dinosaurs and princesses. Those most dear to Alex and Ava are situated at the bottom of the tree, so they can be more easily found and enjoyed.
“I learned years ago that just because an area is small, don’t use small objects,” Netcott says. “Even though Karen’s living room is not huge, the tree is massive, and I used a lot of large ornaments.”
Netcott has an affinity for interspersing stems wherever and whenever possible. “I used 30 to 40 different stems on the tree,” he says. Some are curly and some are lit with their own battery pack. This is a great way to give more shape,” he says. “At the top of the tree, for instance, I used stems to add more height. Stems and garlands are the perfect way to add in different shades of green to give added depth and help to prevent stuffiness. They are musts on trees, wreaths, mantelpieces or any arrangements.”
Although the decorations are enchanting and often intricate, durability was also a priority when making choices. For instance, the large cut out snowflakes used on the tree are made from a pliable rubber, and the crystal-like icicles are actually made from acrylic.
“It’s a bonus to select items that will last,” Netcott says. “After a few years of just packing up, things get torn up. I try to find materials that are intricate yet stand the test of time.”
Known for his artful mixture of patterns, colors and textures, Netcott enjoys the challenge of pattern play. “One of my earliest interior design mentors taught me to never be afraid of mixing patterns. ‘Mix them all together,’ she said. I do, and I love it.” From room to room, ribbons of all sorts can be found, including those made of beading, mesh, glitter and satin. “It’s nice to use three or four different ribbons of varying widths, patterns and textures,” Netcott says. “Even when you are decorating a more formal room, it is cooler to have a mixture of ribbons where you can weave through the colors from your tree and other rooms.”
Although this Christmas venture took hours of thought and days to assemble, Netcott believes its success is quite simple. “As it should be, Christmas is about the kids with the Kampeters. Karen’s energetic, bubbly personality is present in every room. There’s lots of movement everywhere, and it’s a spirit of joy that makes you want to be here.”