Before the turkey hits the table, Patty Fleming is already anticipating how her home will be decorated for the Christmas season. As a December baby, the holiday season has always held special significance for her, and every year she transforms her 3,200-square-foot home into a beacon of Christmas cheer. “It’s kind of like walking into a Christmas store,” Fleming says.
Fleming and her husband John spend about two weeks putting away their knick-knacks and decorations to make room for their sleigh full of ornaments, garlands and lights. Each one of the 17 trees in their home has a theme with everything from a gingerbread tree in the kitchen to a nativity themed tree in the master bedroom, and Fleming carries out each one to tiniest detail.
The front hall features a “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” theme with a Santa who recites the tale and stands near a bag full of toys. Another tree is adorned with tin toys that Fleming and her family picked out together one year. “That one was inspired by ‘Babes in Toyland,” Fleming says. “There have been a lot of years collecting a lot of ideas. I have a vision in my mind of what I want it to look like, and I will search until I find exactly what I want to make it happen.”
In addition to her Christmas trees, Fleming poses smiling elves and jolly snowmen on bookshelves, tables and armoires. Her husband’s favorite room–referred to simply as “the pink and green room”–boasts a blend of pastel pinks and greens with hot pink and green hues, with coordinating nutcrackers on the dresser and two rose-cheeked elves having a tea party.
Fleming’s Christmas collection isn’t just random things from any old store, though. “My grandma had a farm when I was a little girl, and a lot of what she had was handmade,” Fleming says. “It has to really speak to me for me to want to bring it home. For example, I did this one tree with handmade rag dolls made from scraps of fabric by a lady from the Smoky Mountains.”
She isn’t shy about letting people into her home to see the ornate decorations and encourages her family members to bring whoever that want by. For her, all the effort of putting it together makes it worth it when people walk through and enjoy the displays. “My hairdresser brought her girls and she couldn’t get them out of here,” Fleming says with a laugh. “It’s nice to know that children like to come in your home. We always had a house full of other people’s children and Christmas is such a wonderful time for them anyway."
Decked Out Halls
Patty Fleming transforms her Memphis home into a Christmas wonderland
Story by L. Taylor Smith
Photography by Terry Sweeney