Decorator returns to Governor#039;s mansion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2006

Those who love seeing homes all dressed up in holiday style will not want to miss the chance to see the Governor's Mansion adorned for the Christmas season.

The 1907 Colonial Revival house, home to Alabama's governors since 1951, is open to the public for candlelight tours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 18, the last evening to see the mansion in its Christmas finery this year.

&#8220The Governor's Mansion belongs to the people of Alabama and we want to share it with them during this wonderful holiday season,” said First Lady Patsy Riley.

One of Greenville's own, Karen Rainey, once again joined designers from across Alabama in decorating the Riley residence for Christmas.

The local interior decorator and owner of Karen Rainey Interiors in downtown Greenville was first invited to decorate the First Lady's Parlor in the Governor's Mansion last year.

First Lady Patsy Riley was so pleased with the results she invited Rainey to return for holiday 2006.

This year, her assignment was to decorate the Music Room, with the challenge of taking on the Grand Tree. And we do mean &#8220grand.”

&#8220This is a white pine grown here in Alabama and it is huge. I would estimate it to be 12 to 14 feet wide and close to 15 feet in height,” Rainey said.

The tree stands in the center of the room, flanked by two matching gilded pier mirrors on the wall.

Rainey and her assistant Stephanie Steadham trimmed the tree with hundreds of white lights, nearly 100 gold beaded poinsettias, 100 green holly branches with gilt accents and red berries, and many traditional red and gold balls in various sizes, Rainey said.

The tree alone took the pair approximately six hours to decorate.

Gold glitter trees were added to the d\u00E9cor of the room. Gold candlesticks and holders adorn the mantelpiece, with figures of the three wise men nestled in a garland of antique bronze leaves.

&#8220We are really pleased with the results. It's a beautiful tree and we hope lots of people will get to see it and enjoy it. It was such an honor to be invited back again this year,” Rainey said.

The Governor's Mansion Gift Shop, at 30 Finley Avenue (across the street from the side entrance to the mansion) is open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Dec. 18.

Visitors can enjoy hot spiced cider and cheese straws as they browse among the items offered, and take advantage of a15 percent discount available for holiday shoppers. Door prizes will also be given away.

Complimentary tickets to the Governor's Mansion tours will be available beginning at 5:15 p.m. at the gift shop.

More information about the candlelight tours may be obtained online by going to or by calling 1-800-Alabama.