For 10 months out of the year, Benjamin Bradley is a Manhattan-based interior designer. But come November and December, he transforms into “Mr. Christmas,” pivoting his business to focus solely on transforming homes into winter wonderlands decked out in garlands, candy canes, baubles, and traffic-stopping light shows. This year, Christmas enthusiasts can see some of his most epic transformations for themselves on his new four-episode Netflix show Holiday Home Makeover With Mr. Christmas, out now.
“Thankfully my regular clients are mostly understanding and know that I am going to be a little bit absent in those eight weeks leading up to the big day,” he tells AD. “Christmas has always been a huge passion of mine. Clients would always ask about decorating for the holidays, and so I took those projects on and then my name just kind of grew. It just seemed like a natural branch-out with the business.”
Of course, the holiday season won’t be the same this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are grappling with the fact that they might not be able to see their loved ones, but Bradley is keeping his spirits bright. Below, he shares more about his new show and how he’s coping.
Architectural Digest: How did your Netflix show come about?
Benjamin Bradley: I actually had made a vow to myself that it was going to be my year of saying yes. I was going to say yes to every dinner invitation. Yes to everything—because I cancel a lot on reservations. So when a producer friend asked if I was interested in making a show, I said sure.
AD: In the first episode, you give the clients what you call ’50s-inspired decor. Is that your typical style, or would you ever do something super modern?
BB: Oh, sure. Much like what I do the rest of the year, it is never my house. It is always the client’s house. I really try to always keep that in mind. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I believe I am a good listener. If it is a super-contemporary house, a completely snowy atmosphere is always a fun thing to do, using silver. In that first episode, the first thing that came to mind with all the black and white was trying to warm it up. Red popped into my mind. And then of course the iconic candy cane. The candy cane to me is kind of a classic thing and yet can also be construed as a little bit modern with its stripes and kind of graphic quality.
AD: What advice do you have for people who feel like their decor is kind of stale year after year?
BB: That’s the thing—most people pull out their decor and put it in the same place every year. The most important thing to me is to look at it differently. If you have the space, put a Christmas tree in the kitchen and have Christmas morning at the kitchen table while the coffee is brewing. Maybe put up garlands on the bookcases and doorways and stuff and highlight your ornament collection on those. If you have a collection of bowls or baskets, put those in the middle of the dining room table and fill each one with a separate thing, like ornaments or pine cones.
AD: How are you approaching the holidays this year with everything going on?
BB: You know, it is going to be different. Typically my life partner and I have a party, which we won’t be having. We typically host a couple of fundraisers also. This year I have decided that without the pressure of any of that, I’m going to start decorating a little later, and I’m going to have a little more fun with it.
AD: How’s that?
BB: I’m going to try to use more live greens since I don’t have to do it so early. I am going to actually have a live tree as opposed to a “permanent lifelike tree,” as they like to say in the industry. Several people have said to me that they don't even feel like decorating this year, but I think this year more than any other, if I can’t be with the people that I love, then decorating becomes even more important to me. Getting out all of the ornaments that come from vacations or loved ones or friends or as host gifts. That is the next best thing to being with those people. That is what brings up those memories. I might even send Christmas cards again!
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest