Holiday of Another Color

From left, John Dransfield and Jasper, a harlequin great Dane, welcome holiday travelers to their estate, Cherryfields; a copper-roofed, wrought-iron portico surrounds a front door framed by oversized topiaries; Geoffrey Ross takes a break from snow shoveling to give Park Place a grand tour.

When decorating for the holidays, Dransfield and Ross consider the existing decor, color palette and architecture. Here, simple branches have been spray-painted platinum, and antique Christmas balls are paired with vintage mercury glass and a dance-hall mirrored ball. Throughout the home, metallics are treated as neutrals, embellished with restrained use of pinks, greens and reds.

A simple front door is dressed with a lush wreath, handmade by John Dransfield. "I spray-painted the wreath with a tarnished antique patina and then added bits of antique tinsel and glitter-covered berries and acorns," says the designer who makes it all sound so easy. A harbinger of the interior color scheme, the front door, painted a warm Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal, hints at the warm welcome to come. Inside, a blazing fire and holiday fare await visitors.

An entire range of metallic hues adorns branches and berries on the dining room fireplace mantel. Dransfield typically creates his own organic arrangements and then adds luxe highlights by spray painting with multiple shades of metallic paint.

The dining room is home to a portrait of one of Geoffrey Ross’s ancestors, flanked by twin evergreens covered in gold, silver and pink ornaments. Under the 18th-century Italian console table resides a bust of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Once part of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Connecticut home, the fireplace is a staging area for antique flow-mulberry plates as well as a gilded antique mirror and a glistening organic arrangement.

Although it's frosty outdoors, the breakfast room is warm and inviting. Guests are treated to linzer torte, ginger cake and tea under a 19th-century traveling chandelier. The table is dressed with antique flow- mulberry china service, vintage silverware and fresh flowers. Sparkling ornaments and beaded napkin rings say, "Welcome."

Dransfield and Ross’s signature style is reflected in unexpected organic elements throughout their home. Left, graceful cotton birds perch atop an antique kitchen sconce. Above, a delicate beaded ornament adds seasonal spirit to a rustic antler rack in the powder room.

When Somerset County tastemakers John Dransfield and Geoffrey Ross deck their halls for the holidays, they don’t erect a tinsel-covered tree and bathe their home in rainbow-colored lights. Instead, these style connoisseurs fill their residence with sublime decor that dovetails gracefully with their existing interior design. You’ll find no red and green motif here.

”Our holiday decorating is an extension of our decor. Our home is neutral, so we use a subdued palette,” says Ross, a high-end textile designer whose work has enhanced the collections of Scalamandre in New York and Nobilis in Paris. ”Some people feel they have a free pass to put good taste on the back burner during the holidays, decorating even with colors that don’t complement the decor of their home. If our home were orange, we would use orange. I suppose some people would call me Scrooge.”

”We like to use accessories that add glamour and sparkle,” adds his partner, Dransfield, a former fashion designer. ”Our decorations have legs because they complement our interior throughout the year. We like to mix antiques with pieces from our own collection.”

Their assemblage is extensive because they are the owners and designers behind their eponymous, 18-year-old, Manhattan-based company. Dransfield & Ross ( pillows, tableware and fine furnishings are sold by retailers in more than 30 states and Canada.

By melding their passions, Dransfield and Ross have created an expansive collection of home goods—infused by their encyclopedic knowledge of the decorative arts—in an eccentric mix of textures and colors.

With that kind of access to all things bright and beautiful, it’s no wonder their historic home recently garnered attention in House Beautiful and Elle Décor magazines.


Home for the Holidays

”We tend to entertain on a big scale with several large parties each year,” says Dransfield. ”Our home feels especially festive when it’s filled with people.”

”It’s typical for us to add elements of surprise to our parties,” notes Ross. ”For example, it’s fun to entertain in a room other than the dining room. We like to surprise our guests with unexpected elements.”

Their parties take on seasonal themes with Dransfield taking the lead on decorating and Ross handling most of the entertaining and cooking details. ”Our tastes overlap,” says Dransfield. ”All year ’round, we change room arrangements and accessories. We tend to keep our rooms in a constant state of flux.”

Ross chimes in, ”We describe our decorating and entertaining styles as ’traditional with a twist.’ It’s better to do it wrong than to have it become stale.”


Simple Beginnings

Despite its grand appearance, Dransfield and Ross’ early-19th century Peapack home has a humble provenance. Today’s five-bedroom, six-bathroom residence is the late-1920s joining of two simple farmhouses, a carriage house and a gardener’s cottage that were once part of the William Kissel estate.

The new property was dubbed Cherryfields in honor of a row of cherry trees planted by the original owners.

In the 1950s, the Pyne family bought the home, and lady of the house Nancy Buck Pyne turned to her friend Albert Hadley to decorate. Hadley, the patriarch of American interior design, made the house over. The palette and furnishings remained unchanged until 2007, when Dransfield and Ross purchased the home.

”Initially, we kept Hadley’s wall colors because they felt sacred to us,” says Ross. ”But later, after Albert came to visit, he reminded us that good design is all about being relevant and modern. He told us that the house should reflect our taste and not necessarily hold true to his original vision. That was a wonderful gift, his seeing what we had done and approving.”


Unexpected Holiday decorating tips from Dransfield & Ross

Complement what you already have. You don’t need to default to a traditional red-and-green motif unless those colors actually blend with your home decor (and they probably do not).

Use metallics as neutrals. Display new and vintage Christmas balls in bowls, in centerpieces and hanging from sconces. Add a touch of elegance to branches and wreaths with Krylon metallic spray paints.

Collect antique holiday decorations. Scour tag sales and flea markets for interesting objets d’art’-— china, silver, decorative birds, antlers, sconces, chandeliers and books. Enjoy them during the holidays, and every day.

Elevate your gift wrapping style. Consider simple but stunning metallic paper, shimmering ribbon, jeweled embellishments and handmade gift tags. Replace stick-on bows and gift bags with luxe wrappings.

Keep entertaining surprisingly simple.  Add an element of surprise to your holiday party. Serve unexpected fare, entertain in a space other than the dining room, introduce a game. Delight your guests with something different.

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