Public invited to tour homes decorated for holidays

Christmas is magical at the Iverson House.

The historic Snohomish home, filled with white holiday lights, twinkles charmingly enough at night to star in a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Owner Lynn Schilaty gets up early to switch on the lights for commuters driving along busy Avenue D.

“We don’t put lights outside because it sparkles so much from the inside,” she said. “There’s nothing better than seeing a Christmas tree lit up in a window.”

You can peek inside the Iverson House this weekend as part of the Parlour Tour, a decadeslong tradition in Snohomish. The Iverson House is one of five private historic homes decked out with holiday decor.

This is no ordinary home. The Iverson House is a quintessential historic Snohomish home, built circa 1906 and designed by master builder N.P. Hansen. Its handsome Craftsman design is a showstopper — inside and out — without any adornment.

Schilaty and her family go all out decorating the four-level home. Her sons and husband, Alex DeSoto, are pulling box after box from closets and nooks. She spends hours — many hours — getting everything right.

Of special note this year is a tree filled with handmade angels created by Schilaty’s late mother, an artist.

Visitors will get to see just the main floor.

“No two years are the same,” she said. “I have this philosophy that you don’t have to put out every decoration every year.”

Schilaty offered a few more words of decorating advice.

Create vignettes — groups of similar items — around the room. It could be framed photos or Santas or various-sized glass jars filled with candies.

It doesn’t all have to match but do choose complementary things. She draws inspiration for vignettes from an interesting item, and lets that inspiration piece guide what goes into the scene.

“You tweak it until you like it,” she said. “You’ve got it right if it makes you feel good to look at it.”

Like that old adage about wearing jewelry, she recommends putting out what you like in a room and then removing a few things. Too many decorations can take away from the overall effect.

Christmas decorations don’t have to be expensive, matching or trendy. She has gathered the family’s Christmas decorations one piece at a time.

Some are inherited from family. Others are collected. One of her trees is decorated with mementos made by her kids.

There’s nothing wrong with mixing in a few cool, inexpensive decorations from a place like Target, she said. Just don’t go too trendy.

Ultimately, the decorations are just a way to feel the spirit of the season. For her family, that means gathering and slowing down.

Once the lights and the trees are up in her front living room, she’ll find her kids gathered there, sometimes for hours, even her teenage daughter, normally engaged in socializing and electronics.

“That’s what I love about Christmas,” she said. “Slowing down.”

Parlour Tour

The Snohomish Historical Society’s annual Parlour Tour is scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The tour features five private homes as well as access to the Blackman Museum and the Kikendall Cabin at Pioneer Cemetery.

The tour costs $15, or $10 for those 62 and older and kids younger than 12.

Tickets are available the day of the tour beginning at 11 a.m. at the Waltz Building, 116 Ave. B, Snohomish.

Advance tickets are available at McDaniel’s Do-It Center, Joyworks, Annie’s on First and Kuslers.

Proceeds of the tour benefit the Snohomish Historical Society.

More information: 360-568-5235 or www.snohomishhistoricalsociety.org

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