Hol­i­day dé­cor



Nes­tled on a wind­ing tree-lined street in Al­len­dale sits a charm­ing Nan­tucket shin­gled-style cot­tage fes­tooned in hol­i­day fin­ery, which is home to Ch­eryll and Tim Vellek.

Ten years ago, the cou­ple re­lo­cated to New Jer­sey af­ter hav­ing lived in Bel­gium and At­lanta, but their fa­mil­ial roots are deeply imbed­ded in Ber­gen County. “Life has come full cir­cle,” says Ch­eryll, who grew up in north­ern Vir­ginia, of her fam­ily’s ul­ti­mate move to the small bor­ough where her grand­par­ents lived with her grand­fa­ther serv­ing as chief of po­lice. “My hus­band, Tim, grew up in Up­per Saddle River, so when it came time to look for a home he was re­ally fa­mil­iar with the area and we fell in love with this house on Pow­ell Road.”

Hav­ing a dad serve in the mil­i­tary meant sev­eral re­lo­ca­tions dur­ing her child­hood years, but one thing she says her fa­ther in­sisted on was that the fam­ily al­ways be home to­gether for the hol­i­days – no mat­ter what.

“Home for the hol­i­days is very im­por­tant to me,” says Ch­eryll, who be­gins prep­ping for the sea­son right af­ter Thanks­giv­ing. “Even though our two chil­dren, Jeff and Lau­ren, are grown, they al­ways make it home for Christ­mas. I al­ways tell them that us all be­ing to­gether, year af­ter year, is the best gift ever.”

The smooth-silky jazz strains of a Chris Botti hol­i­day tune, twin­kling trees trimmed in bows and rib­bons and ta­bles laden with con­fec­tionary de­lights set a pic­ture-per­fect hol­i­day post­card for this fam­ily.

“When I am dec­o­rat­ing the house for Christ­mas and look­ing at or­na­ments and pho­tos from hol­i­days past, it never ceases to amaze me that feel­ing of sim­ple joy,” Ch­eryll says. “It truly is the most won­der­ful time of the year.”


Look­ing to up­grade the trims and rib­bons for her hol­i­day trees, Ch­eryll en­listed the dec­o­rat­ing de­sign eye of Natalie War­chola, owner of War­chola’s Hol­i­day De­sign. “I had run into Back­yard Liv­ing in Ridge­wood to have some­one redo the bows on my wreaths, and there was Natalie, who was craft­ing these beau­ti­ful wreaths us­ing fab­u­lous trims and rib­bons. I asked her to help me and here we are, five years later, al­ways tweak­ing this and that.” The din­ing room is strik­ing with its red walls, gold ac­cents and snow­man tree, lend­ing an air of whimsy with its branches laden with snow peo­ple of ev­ery shape and size. “It is a 30-year col­lec­tion, one that I started when mmy son, Jeff, was born. There are more than 200 or­na­ments in dif­fer­ent tex­ture, glass, cloth, clay, and each and ev­ery one has a spe­cial mean­ing to our fam­ily.” The piece de re­sis­tance is the tree top­per: a Frosty the Snow­man hat. “When you walk into our home, which fea­tures an open floor plan, this is the first tree you will see. It al­ways makes me smile.” Christ­mas din­ner is served, for­mally, in the din­ing room. “I love bring­ing out the Christ­mas Spode china and the crys­tal and sil­ver to the ta­ble,” Ch­eryll says. Her hus­band is the cook in the fam­ily. “As soon as morn­ing fes­tiv­i­ties are over he pops into the kitchen to start pre­par­ing the hol­i­day meal – leg of lamb and roasted pota­toes – which, over time, has be­come our tra­di­tion,” she says. “It all started be­cause of a turkey. When we lived in Brus­sels we could never get a turkey. They were vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent over there so we had to adapt to the food cul­ture of where we lived. Now, all these years later, we don’t think twice about it. We place our lamb order with a lo­cal butcher in Wy­ck­off and two days be­fore Christ­mas Tim picks it up. Oh, and we can’t for­get Timmy’s fa­mous ap­ple pie for dessert. We can’t seem to get enough of it.”


The heart of the home – the kitchen – show­cases the White House tree. “These or­na­ments, which are de­signed and re­leased each year by the White House His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, will for­ever have a spe­cial place in my heart be­cause my mom started this col­lec­tion for me in 1988,” Ch­eryll says. “My par­ents used to live in Alexan­dria, Va., and my mom would go to the Mount Ver­non gift shop each year and buy me the White House or­na­ment of that year. My dad, hav­ing served in the mil­i­tary, makes this tree even more mean­ing­ful to my fam­ily. We al­ways look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing each new or­na­ment, and it’s fun to talk about the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.”

The kitchen, which serves as com­mand cen­tral for the fam­ily, sports a fes­tive hol­i­day look – ev­ery nook and cranny says Christ­mas is com­ing. Win­dows are be­decked with fresh wreaths from Rohsler’s Nurs­ery & Florist in Al­len­dale and fash­ioned with plump vel­vet red bows. The room’s chan­de­lier is treated to a hand­crafted swag of live greens, holly and the sig­na­ture War­chola red bow.

“My fam­ily starts groaning the week­end be­fore Thanks­giv­ing when I change out all the dishes in my kitchen cab­i­nets and put in my hol­i­day Christ­mas Spode china and plat­ters. It’s nu­mer­ous trips to the base­ment, but once it is all done it re­ally pulls the room to­gether,” says Ch­eryll. In early De­cem­ber, daugh­ter Lau­ren will come in from Man­hat­tan to bake up sev­eral batches of as­sorted hol­i­day cook­ies, which de­light fam­ily and guests through­out the sea­son. Af­ter stock­ings and gifts are ex­changed in front of the roar­ing fire in the ad­ja­cent fam­ily room, the cou­ple and their chil­dren head to the kitchen ta­ble where a fresh raw bar, a cheese and cracker tray and the pre­req­ui­site cham­pagne tast­ing and toast­ing take place.

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