Interior designer Kate Ferguson and OKA have a lot in common—central to our design philosophies is a love of mixing global design influences, cherished antiques and modern finds, all the while keeping homeowners, and what they love, front and center. Like our co-founder and creative director Sue Jones, the designer and founder of Palomino Interiors, which is based in New Canaan, Connecticut, certainly prides herself on creating homes that feel unique to her clients: “Our projects are known for layers of vintage furnishings and one-of-a-kind objects that work together to create a very personal reflection of our clients’ traditions, values and lifestyle.”
However, as we recently discovered, this commonality extends to an alignment on hosting during the holiday season. We caught up with the designer about this happy intersection—from her approach to festive entertaining in her own home to her team’s decision to participate in this year’s New Canaan Holiday House Tour, personal style, taste and connections to community play an important role.
A landmark event supporting many local charities through a grant partnership with the New Canaan Community Foundation, the tour showcases six local homes which have been expertly styled for the festive season by professional designers. Kate describes it as “a great way to give back to our area, while celebrating and sharing the holiday spirit through a project that I am so proud of having designed.”
Palomino Interiors’ project at a house on Luke’s Wood Road, entitled ‘Christmas at the Kasbah’, features the firm’s signature sophisticated and curated use of pattern, color and global influence. “I have always been inspired by how other cultures come together to share holiday traditions,” says Kate, “and because we incorporated so many Moroccan and Andalusian influences in our client’s home, it felt like a natural direction and a fresh way to approach holiday décor.” The result is a bold and colorful yet collected style which seamlessly weaves in the homeowners’ history and treasures brought back from their travels.
This concept was on full display at our Westport flagship store, where Kate recreated her ‘Christmas at the Kasbah’ tablescapes with the aim of providing holiday table décor inspiration to the local community and building interest in the upcoming charitable event. “Our tablescapes will feel formal yet approachable, with a collected and curated palette,” offered Kate ahead of the event, which kicks off Friday, December 1st. “We want to evoke a global mix, while celebrating the diversity of cultures in our community.”
Speaking to the OKA pieces she chose for both the house and in-store tablescapes, she says “We love the Isphahan and Adam Lippes tableware collections, and the mix of swirled and colored glass works perfectly in both casual and formal table settings. These collections are so easy to layer—I like to pair them with the crisp linen napkins and the faux ivory or shagreen flatware.” Also making an appearance in the Luke’s Wood Road house are our bestselling Taino Counter Stools, the whimsical Magnante Console Table, stripe-happy Kintaro dinnerware, table linens in geometric prints and candle holders chosen to evoke Moroccan metalwork. The tables are festive without being fussy; perfect for the type of family-style meal Kate prefers to host in her own home.
The expert designer was kind enough to share how she decks her halls and prepares for hosting feasts. Keep reading for her tips and tricks.
When it comes to how to decorate your table for Christmas dinner and other festivities, Kate has her eye on a few OKA pieces and how to put them together. Once again, the magic is in the mix; she recommends choosing elegant pieces that “can stand alone, or blend with your existing basic tableware. When you start to mix and play with the patterns and colors, your holiday table really comes to life.” Much of the tableware she finds ideal for layering falls under this multitalented “elevated basics” umbrella: “They’ll never go out of style,” she says. “Pieces like the colored glass goblets and rattan underplates can be so versatile for both elegant holiday tables and everyday family dinners.”
For her own Christmas dinner, Kate prefers a casual family-style holiday meal with lots of passing dishes and conversation. “We use all of the fancy tableware and mix in pieces that you don’t use every day, like chargers, place cards and napkin rings.” Just like us, Kate is fan of twinkling candlelight, lots of greenery, and a charming British twist here and there: “Candles and flowers make it special, and we always have Christmas crackers filled with trinkets, a paper crown and some jokes to open and share.” For those interested in how to make your home smell like Christmas, to add an extra bit of holiday magic, she keeps a pot of water infused with cinnamon sticks, anise, cloves, ginger and orange peels simmering on the stove. For the soundtrack, Dolly Parton’s Christmas albums are on repeat.
Being an antiques enthusiast extends to adorning the tree with retro decorations. “I fall hard for vintage ornaments—especially Shiny Brite glass baubles,” Kate shares. “I buy them off-season on Etsy and eBay when I can’t sleep.” She’s not shy when it comes to lights, either. “Once you’ve loaded the tree with twice as many lights as you think possible, shove the plain metallic ball ornaments deep into the branches and nestle them close to the lights. The tree will literally glow and twinkle because of the disco-ball effect of the ornaments reflecting the lights.”
If you’re a design lover, you may be reluctant to let your children loose on the Christmas tree decorations—Kate comes to the rescue with an idea that will keep everyone happy. “I do two Christmas trees,” she says. “One traditional, with loads of white lights and vintage ornaments, and one full of color and loaded down with my kids’ handmade ornaments.” If you have the space, why not follow suit?
Kate has one last tip to bring an all-important verdant touch to your holiday decorations. Whether you prefer inexpensive natural cedar, pine and juniper strands from the grocery store or everlasting faux garlands featuring a variety of foliage types, you can braid them together to make one large and luxurious garland. “One on its own can look basic, but when braided with some fairy lights added in, it looks so much more lush and elegant.”
To discover more about Kate and Palomino Interiors, visit the company's website.