Our favorite part of the holiday season is checking out all the decorations in our neighborhood. And we can only imagine what we'd see if our neighborhood happened to be filled with celebrity homes. But until Clooney moves in, we have HGTV's 'Celebrity Holiday Homes.' In these two one-hour specials, HGTV follows the festive work of designers to the stars. Like Sandra Espinet, who transformed CSI Miami star Eva LaRue's home into...Santa's workshop. We got to sit down with Sandra and talk edible decorations, larger-than-life decor and her dream Christmas tree. Check it out below and scroll down for a slideshow with a sneak peak of the home. Or, see for yourself on the 'Celebrity Homes' premiere, December 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Can you tell us a little bit about the design?
It was really fun meeting Eva. She just remarried and she has a ten year old daughter, so she wanted something really fun and young for their first Christmas together. We decided to create Santa's Workshop in the living room. We covered one wall with presents, another with four Christmas trees and trains - the whole shebang. We even had a Santa Claus because we rented a few things from a prop shop called 'Almost Christmas' and the owner, Mr. Christmas, looked just like Santa. I told him he had to be on the show, and, oh my God, when he showed up we all went crazy!
We loved the room and are dying to know where you got your inspiration, especially for those elf tree toppers and the giant clock?
The tree toppers I found at a store and just died laughing. It's an elf head as well as arms, so the entire tree looks like an elf - definitely a more playful decoration. And, the concept behind the clock was that time is ticking in the workshop since it's almost Christmas. But, secretly, we needed something to cover the large living room window and the clock fit the bill. We carved a large piece of Styrofoam and painted it. It's inexpensive but great for anyone with time and a little creativity."
We noticed that you used a lot of candy canes and edible elements in the room. Any tips for homeowners looking to do the same?
The only time using food is a little dangerous is when you have pets. I have a friend who decorated her trees with popcorn garlands one year, but she had cats. She woke up the morning after decorating and found the tree knocked over and her cat surrounded by bits of popcorn. You don't want to temp your pets, but otherwise I love edible decorations. Christmas cookies are my favorite and giving them out to friends is something I do every year. They are easy to decorate with, fun to make and inexpensive.
The four trees in this room were very traditional red and green, but you can do some crazy things with artificial trees. What is your dream Christmas tree?
My dream Christmas tree would be one with a big Ferrari underneath it! No, but really, you can find really pretty artificial trees that will save you money and the hassle of a cleanup. You don't need to buy everything new each year, just change a few ornaments, exchange pillows and decorate with inexpensive things like pinecones in jars. A lot of my clients tend to be very traditional, so we can't go wild with trees, but why not have fun with it?
Were you reminded of any fun childhood memories while decorating this youthful room?
I grew up in cold weather, so when I was younger we would go to a big tree forest and they would cut the tree down for you. Sometimes I miss the smell of pine and having a cold Christmas. The reality is when you have a warm Christmas you just don't get that same feeling. But, now I'm loving the more non-traditional holiday feel. At home I do a giant picnic on the beach and lean toward a more casual approach.
Do you have any final tips for holiday decorating?
The big thing about Christmas is no matter what, enjoy your family. We go all out because it's for TV, but in real life you need to take everything into perspective. Decorating is lovely, but family comes first.
Click through the photo below for a special preview of how Sandra transformed Eva LaRue's home into a winter wonderland.
All photos courtesy of HGTV/Scripps Networks
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste. Learn more