For years, Sacramento designer Kerrie Kelly has lovingly decorated other people’s homes, decking them out for the holidays.
Her work has become a staple of East Sacramento’s huge Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour, which annually attracts close to 5,000 patrons.
Meanwhile, her own 42nd Street house had to wait in line for its tinsel and bows. But not this season.
Starting Friday, Dec. 2, Kelly’s home will be among the featured stops on the 43rd annual Sacred Heart tour, believed to be the oldest holiday home tour west of the Mississippi.
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“This is my year to get my home decorated,” Kelly said enthusiastically. “I had a complaint from my husband; he felt left out during the holiday season, I was so busy decorating other people’s homes. But not this year. Our home will get some attention.”
Attracting patrons from throughout Northern California, the tour is the major fundraiser for Sacred Heart School, supporting programs and scholarships for kids ages 4 to 14. After expenses, last year’s event raised more than $190,000 for the 310-student school.
“We have six homes instead of our usual five, so it will be like people are getting a bonus,” said school principal Theresa Sparks of this year’s tour. “I’m always just amazed by people’s generosity. It’s about community, and not just Sacred Heart students and parents, but everyone in East Sacramento. This event gets us all in the holiday mood.”
For her own home, Kelly chose a “Welcome to East Sacramento” theme. She incorporated wooden placards, pillows and ornaments that echo East Sac’s landmark neighborhood signs.
Created by Charlotte Lazio, those little tributes to their neighborhood have become popular gifts, too. (They’ll have some for sale at the school’s boutique as well as a holiday pop-up shop in Kelly’s garage during the tour.)
“I loved the signs when they went up in the neighborhood,” Lazio said. “My dad carved some (replica) signs and we started selling them. Now, we sell a couple a month; everybody seems to want one. I made the ornaments, which are fun, too. It’s kind of taken off.”
Lazio also serves as co-chairperson for the tour. “My job is to ask the houses (to be on the tour),” she said. “I get a lot of doors slammed in my face. But really, the tour is so much fun. A lot of other tours are happening right now, but this is the tour, the one that started it all (for Northern California). People appreciate the tour and its history.”
As she has with other homes, Kelly got her Design Lab staff involved with her decorating process. That included her restored 1986 Jeep wagon, which will be parked in the driveway with a Christmas tree on top.
Her decorations start simple, playing off her home’s year-round equestrian theme. A riding hat and hunting horn decorate a large door wreath, made by Relles Florist. The midtown Sacramento florist also created red rose arrangements for the mantle, patio and dining room. Sparkling gold horns adorn stockings and gift boxes atop the mantle.
With bridle bits displayed like fine jewelry, the dining room features more equine flourishes plus a dramatic combination of Black Watch and Stewart plaids. Vintage silver ice buckets and loving cups plus an heirloom punch bowl serve as vases for more flowers and holiday greenery.
During the tour, the large and inviting kitchen will be a hub of activity with five chefs rotating through holiday cooking demonstrations. Besides enjoying sips of cider or bites of cookies, patrons can take home recipe cards as their little holiday gift.
The holiday theme continues outdoors with a welcoming fireplace, decorated with garlands, flower baskets and pillows. Pine cones and deer antlers give the flower arrangements a rustic, woodsy feel.
“Our fireplace was inspired by Napa Valley,” Kelly said. “We saw a similar fireplace at Hotel Yountville and recreated the setting. We have such wonderful weather. We want to be outside – so why not?”
That’s what such tours are all about – finding your inspiration and then making it your own, she observed. Plus they’re a lot of fun while supporting a good cause.
“My grandmother used to live at 4100 Folsom, so as kids, we always went on the Sacred Heart tour,” Kelly said. “It truly puts you in the spirit for the holidays.”
43rd Annual Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour
Where: Six homes in East Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood. Start at Sacred Heart School, 39th and H streets, Sacramento.
When: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4
Admission: $30 through Thursday, Dec. 1; $35 on tour days
Details and tickets: sacredhearthometour.com
Plus: Sacred Heart School will host a boutique and cafe during the tour.