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Governor's Mansion decor reflects rosy times

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The thorny times of a political campaign inspired Glen Reed, director of events and operations at the Governor's Mansion, with a theme for her holiday decorations in the public rooms.

"I remember thinking that everything would be coming up roses after the election and thought, 'That's it!' We'll use roses all over the mansion for our decorations," Reed said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin seemed a bit skeptical when he first heard the idea, but told Reed he knew she would make it work. Some members of the mansion's staff couldn't quite visualize it, but say they love the results now.

Reed's biggest fear, as she sketched out her designs, was a source for all the roses she would need. A trip to Hobby Lobby, in Barboursville, relieved her anxiety. She found plenty of stems of the red and pink -- and purple and chartreuse -- roses that she required.

The theme is most prominent in the formal receiving room, where the branches of a towering tree hold red and pink roses. Red and pink poinsettias circle the base of the tree and echo the tree's colors.

Reed fashioned a dramatic wreath of frosted apples and sprays of red berries to complement the abundant display of roses, greenery and icy branches that adorn the cream-colored mantel.

"The governor liked the wreath so much that he suggested we light it," said Reed, a designer who owned and operated her own firm before she accepted her current position. Florists and designers have installed the holiday decorations for previous administrations, but Reed happily took on the task herself.

"People come in this room, sit down and enjoy it. I love it. It's just what I envisioned," Reed said.

Last year, she made use of existing decorations in storage at the mansion. As the Tomblin administration officially established itself in the mansion for the next four years, she purchased items for a more personalized display.

She kept a careful eye on the budget, using the half-off coupons Hobby Lobby offers on floral items every other week. Reed purchased some of the items, such as candy and monochromatic ornaments, at dollar stores, and good quality floral sprays and branches at K&K Home Furnishings in the mall and other candies at the Purple Onion, in the Capitol Market.

"I've always encouraged people to use what they already have in designs," said Reed, as she pointed out the large glass vases that hold ornaments in varying shades of purple in the ballroom.

She chose purple and chartreuse for the drawing room décor because the combination is one of her favorites. It shows up well in the room with light walls and bright space.

Reed starts with a general idea of a design, but the details emerge as she works. "I start something, then I walk away and come back to it. It's like art. I have to step away as I work," she said.

Red and white candies inspired the color scheme she developed for the dining room. A mantel filled with artfully arranged apothecary jars filled with striped peppermint sticks and balls, red jelly beans, white marshmallows and red and silver wrapped candies creates a light and fun focal point in the formal dining room.

"The candy is pretty and so festive. So many people walk by and say, 'I have those jars. I could do that too,'" said Reed, who encourages people to create similar displays in their own homes.

"Anyone can do it. They just need to think outside the box."

The well-lighted sunroom with its red walls holds an all-white snowy display highlighted by a tree whimsically decorated with snowmen. Crystal icicles drip from white hydrangeas hanging in the windows.

The library, with its warm, wood-paneled walls, showcases a collection of 14 Santas that Reed has carefully selected over the past few years. A wild-haired Santa that sits on a coffee table was her first purchase. She placed a long-stemmed rose in the hands of a Santa with a knowing smile that sits on the top of an armoire.

"We call him the bachelor," she said. "He looks like he's saying, 'Could it be you that I choose?'"

In the family dining room, Reed decorated in silvers and whites with crystal snowflakes, mercury cups, jingle bells and ornaments to give the less formal room a twinkling appearance.

The twinkling effect greatly increases on events when the mansion is filled with holiday guests because Reed and the other members of the mansion staff strategically place tiny battery-operated LED lights in all of the rooms. The lights draw attention to features that might otherwise be overlooked and sparkle off the glass, crystal, silver and gold surfaces to create an eye-catching effect.

"I love being here and decorating the mansion. I feel good about making the Governor's Mansion magical," Reed said.

To arrange a tour of the Governor's Mansion, call 304-558-4839.

Reach Julie Robinson at julier@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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