For the past eleven years, we’ve commissioned French artist, Fabric de Villeneuve, to create a St. Nicholas canvas especially for us. Each year, he portrays the beloved St. Nick in a different scene, often with a tongue-in-cheek twist that reflects our unique style, such as leopard print trim on his suit. And every year, the same customer has bought the original painting. When this little fact came to our attention, we were so intrigued that we just had to talk to her.
Lucky for us, Adrienne McCoy, of Lake Forest, Illinois, obliged our curiosity and talked to us about her love of Christmas — and just what exactly she’s doing with all of those St. Nicholas paintings, anyway.
We’re guessing you’re a big fan of Christmas?
Absolutely! It’s my favorite holiday, and I go all out to decorate. This year I had 24 people decorating my house for 6 hours on a Saturday. I have over 40 Christmas trees in my house and they’re all decorated. I always say that you can’t swing a cat anywhere in the house and not hit a Christmas tree.
Wow! That is a lot of Christmas trees. Do you have one in every room?
Yes, including every bathroom. There are multiple trees in some rooms. We do have one main Christmas tree in the living room that’s over 12 feet. It’s the largest tree. Believe it or not, I don’t have to turn the heat on during the holidays, because there is so much heat being generated by the tree lights.
You are certainly doing your part to spread Christmas cheer.
When people come to the door, their jaws drop. I have more decorations than the stores do. I try to keep it tasteful, but it’s pretty over the top. And I’ll be the first to admit it – and I don’t care. I love Christmas!
As long as it makes you happy! So let’s talk about those St. Nicholas originals.
I think I have 11, all of the originals that have been released. I also own a copy of each one. Every year, I buy one print and the original.
Do you have a strategy for decorating with your art? Do you get them all out each year?
I do! Right after Halloween I take down all of my art — I have a pretty large art collection — and I make room for my Christmas art collection. I have one gallery wall down a long hallway, and the others are spread out around the house in each room. Although they all look different and are even different sizes and orientation, they all share a similar quality. They look so nice together.
Do you have any favorites?
I do have a couple of Santas that are my favorites. And every year when I take them out, I say, “Oh! There it is!” I don’t know the names of them, but there’s one with a leopard bow in the painting with Ballard’s Christmas stocking hangers. I had the items shown in the painting, so one year I hung the painting over my fireplace, and I decorated it so it actually looked like the picture in the painting. My other favorite is the Santa dressed in white. I have him hanging over a red half-moon shaped table. And everything that goes on that table is white or cream and surrounded by a forest of small decorative trees on the table. It’s really, really pretty.
It sounds like many of the St. Nicholas paintings are the centerpiece of your vignettes?
I decorate around all of the paintings, because I am just crazy about them. And I’ve got beautiful frames for all of them – big, heavy carved gold frames. They look like they’ve come out of some expensive French gallery! And, actually, it’s become a game we play every year to figure out which is the original and which is the copy. They do a great job on the prints, and it really is hard to tell the difference, especially since they’re all in nice frames. They all look like the originals.
Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone. They’ll never know the difference. We love that you are such a big fan of our St. Nicholas paintings.
I thought it was my own secret guilty pleasure. But this year I kept checking online, and I thought maybe I missed the painting and someone else bought it, when I got a phone call from Ballard Designs asking if I wanted to buy the painting. I was so shocked that they even had any idea that I was collecting them all these years! It was very, very nice.
We have one last question: Why do you love these paintings?
I just love this artist! I love the quality of the art and the actual techniques he uses. I love his take on Santa, too. This Santa represents to me the Santa of my childhood. He’s happy, but not crazy happy. He’s serene. All of the pictures have a sense of peace about them, and I really, really like that.
Browse more holiday decorating ideas on our Holiday Pinterest Board.