A Victorian Christmas
- Gail Park
- The Times - Features
At Tigard's Quello House, the owners go to great lengths to make the 1903 farmhouse beautiful for the holidays
As pure as newly fallen snow.
At the Quello House in Tigard, the home, walls, furniture, carpeting and décor are devoted to variations on the brilliance of white. But when the holidays arrive, something else sparkles.
Pastor Daniel and Jacque Quello, who purchased the 1903 Victorian farmhouse 17 years ago, use their home like a charm bracelet. Each room resembles an ornament celebrating the season.
The home's porch initiates the joy within. The white veranda's white rattan furniture, evergreens and large red poinsettias, frames a windowed front door.
The Quellos work side by side to make their home more cheerful than ever during the winter holidays. They have spent hours, days, weeks preparing their six-bedroom home for the holidays. An open house helped urge them into action. Thanksgiving, falling early this year, gave them a welcome headstart.
Part of adding eight Christmas trees inside their home seems routine. Carefully labeled boxes come out of storage, the contents packed as if they were fine china. Inside each container are the pieces to each specific tree.
In the entry room caroler figurines join the ranks of the welcoming committee.
'This is the music room,' explains Dan. A baby grand piano seems small in contrast to the hints of the seasonal surprises yet to come. A tree and evergreen swag that frames the entire entryway set the holiday mood. Nearby a fire crackles.
Beyond the entry in a grayish/white office stands a regal tree adorned in white steeples, bird houses, churches and gables. White and olive packages are neatly tucked beneath the tall, narrow tree.
'Notice how Jacque wrapped the gifts to match the mood of the room,' Dan says.
The design of the home embraces a tall, plush Victorian-themed tree in the main living area. Music, sparkle and the spicy scent of wassail, nourish the senses. White striped walls are enhanced with holiday greenery and white candles and hydrangea flowers. Gold, white and pink embellish the faux evergreen tree.
For approximately 10 years, while the family is off on Black Friday antics, Daniel, a retired Lutheran pastor, has meticulously dressed the Victorian tree. Beginning with its assembly, he carefully wraps gold mesh netting around the branches. The fine gold fabric is new this year. Pink and white ribbon follow. Pearl strands and candles, given to the family by a 90-year-old parishioner from the Old Country, are set in place. Lights, large florals, flowers, mementos and glass balls go on next. Decorations that lay flat on the boughs are reserved for last. Raffia and a light dusting of snow are the finishing touch.
The centerpiece of the room takes Daniel six hours to complete.
'It's our family's tradition to hide a, what?' he asks Jacque.
'A pickle,' she answers. 'Whoever finds it opens up the first present. We've always loved Christmas,' she continues. 'Every year, we used to go out and cut down a tree, but since the kids have gone, the number of holiday trees (we set up) has grown.'
The empty nesters, who in 1992 placed their property on the National Register of Historic Places, go all out decorating for family, including two granddaughters, open houses and the enjoyment they have during their Victorian Christmas.
Today, the Quellos prefer silk holiday trees in their home. 'They're easy. We can set them up early and they won't dry out before Christmas,' says Dan, who hopes his daughters will continue the Victorian tradition. 'Their stiff branches make decorating easy.'
On a nearby table a centerpiece of bright red tulips and live evergreens brightens the white dining area. The real flowers are arranged in a silver chafing dish. The table is set with white china.
Follow the staircase to the second floor where a tea party is under way next to a Santa-theme tree. Some of the family's long-cherished ornaments grace this tree. Each year, when the Quellos' two sons and two daughters were young, the family would purchase a Santa ornament. Today, a train circles the silk evergreen flanked by red and green gifts.
The Quellos' master bedroom displays a snowflake tree. It sparkles with shimmery snowballs and snowflakes. A light snow has dusted its branches.
Winnie the Pooh rules in the Princess Room. Eeyore, Pooh, Piglet and their friends are a whimsical addition to the white room with tiny pink flowers on the wallpaper. In the adjacent Peter Rabbit Room, with white walls embellished by a handpainted mural of the naughty little rabbit in a blue jacket, a collection of Peter Rabbit ornaments add fanciful color to a tree.
A wilderness tree stands in the room once used by the Quellos' son, Peder.
The collection of mementos, Santas, baby shoes and a 35-year-old nativity scene that Jacque and Daniel enjoyed during their first year together, are reminders of the things that matter most to the tight-knit family.
'It's hard to take it down,' says Dan.
'It warms the winter,' adds Jacque. 'Soon spring will come and we'll shift our energy to the garden.'