Originally created 12/17/00

Home turns into Santa's wonderland



When Santa touches down on the roof at 642 Hamden Drive, he'll realize he has been outdone by a mere civilian.

The Christmas decorations at the North Pole can't possibly be as festive and plentiful as those at Sylvia and Bill Newman's home in Evans.

Inside the house, every single surface - furniture, walls, the dogs - bears a touch of Mrs. Newman's holiday cheer. Even the fish, Bambi, has a little Christmas tree in its bowl.

Mr. and Mrs. Newman had the five-bedroom home built 2´ years ago. It was originally to be a single-level house, until Mrs. Newman realized she needed more storage space. Most of the year, boxes of Christmas decorations hide under beds, in closets and even under the bathroom sink.

Her holiday hobby began about 10 years ago with a collection of bears.

"It's my addiction," Mrs. Newman said. "Every year I add something or take something away."

This year, the Newmans' holiday plans include a progressive party, which will end at their 3,100-square-foot home. Guests will know the home by the perfectly hung wreaths on each window.

Inside the foyer, visitors are greeted by a Santa tree in the corner, a display cabinet with animal figures playing winter games, and a cross-stitched letter to Santa.

In the formal living room, the furniture has been removed to make room for a winter fantasyland. A complete Dept. 56 snow village set is displayed on card tables and covered in faux snow.

The line between make-believe and reality is blurred as smoke curls from the chimneys of some of the little houses and coals burn red in a marshmallow-toasting fire.

"We both wish we could fall right in," Mrs. Newman said of the villages. "They are so detailed and so happy."

Mrs. Newman put off buying a couch for the living room because she knew her holiday decor would take up so much space. This year, she said, the living room will get a couch. Next Christmas, Mr. Newman will have to sacrifice his exercise room to the villages.

Opposite the villages, a large tree is decked out in its Christmas finest. It's one of 20 Christmas trees in the house.

"That's counting the little ones, too," Mr. Newman said. But even more amazing, there are no two ornaments alike.

The living room opens to the dining room, which is furnished, as well as extravagantly decorated.

A large Nativity scene depicted in cross-stitch sits in the glow of candlelight on a sideboard, commanding the focus of the room. In a corner sits a 5-foot Christmas tree adorned with angels.

"The Elizabeth Tree" honors a young child who died of cancer four years ago. When Mrs. Newman lived in Newberry, S.C., she befriended the girl. One day, while gazing at the multitude of trees in Mrs. Newman's home, Elizabeth suggested an angel theme, so Mrs. Newman wouldn't forget her.

Just inside the kitchen there's a tribute to a recently deceased family member: a photo of Simba, the Newmans' 6-year-old golden retriever, sits under a gingerbread-theme tree.

The kitchen and family room are combined in an open great room, so the decorations blend from one room to the other.

For the family's three dogs, Missy, Thumper and Jackson, a dog-theme tree hangs on a wall just beyond the kitchen, in the family room.

"They are our children," Mrs. Newman said. "We have fur-children."

They even have their own stockings on the mantel.

There are Christmas throws on the couch, Christmas books by the window and trees in every corner. Half-trees hang on the wall; short trees grace shelves; and a live baby tree, to be planted later, stands by the hearth.

A grandfather clock, ribbons trailing from the top, sits atop the mantel.

A picture window allows the Newmans to keep an eye on their three playful dogs in the large back yard. Each wears a holiday collar, of course.

A new tree, added just this year, is decked in wildlife ornaments. Moose are recurring around the branches, as a reminder of adventures the couple had during their honeymoon in May.

Guests will even find red and green holly-printed toilet paper in the guest bathroom.

A garland trails the handrail up the stairs, where more holiday treasures adorn every room.

There are two guest rooms, one frilly, one masculine. Each has at least one Christmas tree, each with a different theme. In the feminine room, pine boughs hang on the posts of the headboard, perfuming the air around a family of teddy bears on the bed.

In the masculine room, a trophy deer hangs where Mrs. Newman doesn't have to see it very often. He wears a Santa hat and sports a bright red nose.

The upstairs guest bathroom also has - you guessed it - its own tree. And a train runs along the window ledge.

Inside the exercise room, Santa is peeking around a Disney tree and through a window. Mrs. Newman removes him on Christmas Eve so the neighborhood children don't get suspicious. A Santa hat with Mickey Mouse ears tops the tree.

In the master bedroom, a live tree shows off Mrs. Newman's original collection of bears. A half-tree hanging on the wall is decked in Victorian lace, hearts and doves.

"I thought it was romantic," Mrs. Newman said, as is the mistletoe hanging from the ceiling.

"That stays up all year though," she said.

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.