Text and styling: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photos: Sara Essex Bradley
Alexis Walter takes the phrase “trimming the tree” quite literally. Like clockwork, the artist and textile designer’s passion for passementerie seems to kick into overdrive just as the last plate is cleared from the Thanksgiving table and the first box of trim—brimming with silk ribbon, embroidered tape, and metallic galon—is unearthed from the attic of the Uptown home that she shares with her husband Dan.
“You know Christmas is right around the corner when bows start appearing on everything from candlesticks to bowls to lamp bases,” says Walter. “Some people collect Santas or snow globes but, for the past 20 years, I’ve collected antique and unusual trim and textiles that I pick up on my travels. I find so much joy in rediscovering them year after year and reminiscing about the memories attached to each one. They make our home feel merry!”
The nineteenth-century Victorian shotgun doesn’t need much in the way of mood lifters, though. Natural light floods through large guillotine windows, lending warmth to rooms wrapped in crisp white from the pickled oak floors up to the plaster ceiling. Classic and comfy linen slipcovered seating speaks to Walter’s Southern roots, while French, Italian, and English antiques reflect the chic, Continental style she cultivated during time spent abroad. Whether painted, gilded, Provincial, or refined, the bergères, commodes, and chandeliers tell a part of her story just as the brushstrokes in her original paintings sing a verse of her song.
Formally trained in both fine art and interior design, Walter recently combined her love of fine and decorative arts with the launch of her eponymous textile collection, offering heavyweight linens featuring wispy patterns in featherlight pastels designed to complement her original watercolors and mixed media abstracts.
“My philosophy is that interior elements shouldn’t match or clash—they should harmonize,” Walter says. “This also applies to holiday decor. I see it as an extension of a home’s year-round palette and style, but with a bit more glitter and glam!”
To merge the everyday with the extravagant, Walter commissioned custom stockings, ornaments, and a tree skirt made from sample runs and remnants of her bespoke designs to create a look that is both festive and cohesive. Ornaments and adornments in shades of blush, apricot, seafoam, and sage take the place of decor in typical holiday hues of red and green. Garden roses, heirloom hydrangeas, and lemon myrtle topiaries, inspired by the bounty of her own flower and kitchen gardens, offer an alternative to traditional seasonal favorites such as potted poinsettia and amaryllis, and wreaths and cones fashioned by rosemary and boxwood.
“Fresh-cut flowers and greens are essential around here, no matter the reason or the season,” Walter says. “At Christmastime, you’ll just see many, many more of them! What may have been a single bloom, a simple glass vase, multiplies into a series of overflowing arrangements in antique silver bowls, Murano glass vessels, and heirloom china cups. Nothing else gets me in the holiday spirit quite like the sight and scent of them.”