The Seattle designer, with a Christmas-holiday specialty, makes his truly a home for the holidays with silver and flocking and boxwood and ornaments long in the family.

By Rebecca Teagarden

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The fireplace is laden with garland. Flocking, a must, and white lights add a frosty, wintry, upscale air to the scene.

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Glass icicles seem to drip from this mirror in the living room, drawing the eye down to antique silver ornaments on the table.

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The big tree in the living room, with views of both downtown Seattle and Lake Washington, is a frazier fir. "We like how it really shows the ornaments," says designer Timothy De Clue. The long branches hold ornaments from Bert Bell's grandparents.

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

"That's our sparkle-house collection by the stairs," says De Clue. A little village in silver, gold, white and green. The flocked garland along the stairs features a chubby, cheerful, vintage Santa. De Clue recommends flock in a can. "The kind you hook to the vacuum has its hazards when the bag blows."

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE  TIMES

A trail of ribbon pulls visitors across the dining-room table, up to the commanding centerpiece (incorporating the uniting boxwood) and to the tree beyond. This is the Travel Tree. Among the ornaments here are zeppelins, the Space Needle and candle lights. The couple has upward of 1,000 ornaments. Each is handpacked.

BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

A little surprise at the top of the stairs is this tabletop tree wearing oversized red and clear-glass balls sitting alongside a silver vase of red tulips and candelabra.

WHY, THERE'S nothing to it: The lovely glass icicles multiplied in the mirror. A choir of candles flickering in the fireplace. A fat vintage Santa for the kid in all of us. Everything frosted and flocked and fluffed to perfection. All of it hugged by chubby gilded bows.

There's nothing to it at all: If you start decorating the week before Thanksgiving and are a Christmas-decorating professional.

Luckily, that is exactly what Timothy De Clue is as owner of Le' Objects home accessories boutique in Georgetown.

Christmas is, like Santa's, his job 365 days a year.

"I remember when I was in the second or third grade making wreaths to take to the neighbors," he says. "I've always loved Christmas."

Good thing. Because as a grown-up De Clue gets to holiday decorate more than 70 times each season. But when he's spreading good cheer at the Four Seasons and the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle, he has, well, elves (a team of designers and installers) to help.

At home in Seward Park, he and partner Bert Bell are on their own.

"We have a big party about two weeks before Christmas, so that's the push," De Clue says of his personal deadline. De Clue kicks back in a Queen Anne chair. Easy Christmas listening Manheim Steamroller rolls along in the background.

"This house just takes Christmas so well."

Indeed. Brick Tudors come ready to play: Arched doorways, deep wooded window sills and floors, stone-wrapped fireplace, coves and alcoves tucked into walls painted sage, gold and cream. A Christmas canvas absolutely.

De Clue paints his in live trees and garlands with lots of flocking, pieces from his silver collection, and other holiday flotsam and jetsam acquired at estate sales and elsewhere. But there are tricks to this holiday trade, and De Clue is willing to share:

• "The biggest trend for 2011, all natural. Lots of natural elements, iced, snowy elements. Birds are huge. Huge!"

• "I try to repurpose things. I stack things, in this case pine cones, in apothecary jars."

• "It's important to create scenes." For example, a vignette of silver antique ornaments and trees sitting beneath glass icicles hanging from a mirror plays like a frosty breath of fresh air.

• "Go big. Make strong, big, impactful displays." The dining table in the De Clue-Bell home is festooned with flowers and greens standing more than 2 feet tall.

• "The best trick on trees and other things is more lights. And more than one kind of light. That gives it depth. That's your foundation. And when you're done with that, add another layer."

• "You need one element that relates. Here it's boxwood. It's in the wreath and the displays."

• "And don't be afraid of flocking. I love flocking. It skews traditional. And it helps hold the needles on."

• "If it's not working move it around. Things get moved around here quite a bit. If I'm unhappy with something I'll sleep on it or go to Bert and say, 'Help!' "

But, in the end, it's all worth it. Everything in its place, each space a special place for it all.

"Every year I take out the ornaments and I say, 'Oh! This is my favorite.' And I think I say that 1,000 times."

It's no wonder De Clue's favorite Christmas song is Dean Martin's version of "A Marshmallow World":

It's a marshmallow world in the winter

When the snow comes to cover the ground

It's the time for play, it's a whipped-cream day

I wait for it the whole year 'round.

Rebecca Teagarden writes about architecture and design for Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.