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Half the fun of the holiday season is checking out the homes of friends and neighbors to see how they’ve decked their halls. When it comes to holiday décor, we all have different tastes and traditions.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy so many of the holiday shows we film each year.  But I think one of my favorites has to be “Celebrity Holiday Homes.”  In this hour-long special (which premieres Friday 8/7c), HGTV designers visit the real-life homes of celebrities and decorate them to the tee with a complete holiday makeover.

Not only do we get to see the designers work their magic, it’s always amazing to see how thrilled the stars are to have their favorite HGTV hosts decorate their homes.  And I’m especially excited that one of this year’s featured designers is the incredibly talented, Kelli Ellis.

Designer, Kelli Ellis

Kelli is an award-winning, internationally known celebrity Interior Designer and Design Psychology Expert. She splits time as an author, brand ambassador, educator, life coach, speaker, professional blogger and on-camera Designer. Co-creator of Interior Design Camp, Design Campus and Design Glamp home goods. Her new book, “Do I look skinny in this house?” debuts next spring.

I recently caught up with Kelli, while she was taking a short break from her hectic media schedule, to get the 411 on decorating the home of Lorenzo and Shawna Lamas for this year’s special.  Here’s the dish.

Dale:  Ok, so I confess.  I’m a big Lorenzo Lamas fan…even back to  “Renegade” and “Falcon Crest” days.  What was it like working with Lorenzo and Shawna?
Kelli:  Who doesn’t have a crush on Lorenzo!?  Every girl wanted to ride on that Renegade’s bike and every guy wanted to be him!  He was an absolute doll and I love Shawna.  We have started working together on a few projects and have become great friends.  The girls were adorable, as well…appreciative and sweet.  I wasn’t sure Lorenzo would be so game to wrap gifts with me, but not only was he a great sport he wore his Christmas sweater too…love him even more!

Kelli and Lorenzo on the set of “Celebrity Holiday Homes”

Dale: Your transformation of Lorenzo’s home was incredible, but as everyone will see Friday, Lorenzo and Shawna have very polarizing tastes.  Is that a common dilemma when working for couples?
Kelli:  Yes! I call myself “The Design Mediator” (you heard it here first!)  I am often holding the hands of my clients guiding them through step-by-step, so both are happy.  If I walk into a home with distinct modge-podge styles present I know both parties have strong personalities and it’s going to get rough!  Lorenzo and Shawna have polar opposite tastes, thankfully with Christmas decor you can be crazier than you ever would be in everyday design, so blending styles is much easier.

Lorenzo and Shawna explore their new holiday look

Dale: And your design solution for the Lamas was very “Renegade” meets “Ritz,” which I absolutely love.
Kelli:  I loved it too.  As with any design, finding unifying colors is the trick to blending tastes.  They both wanted to see themselves in the design, as well as their three daughters.  Thankfully they love bold, bright colors, as seen in their wall art and purple pool table…no color-phobia’s in that house!

Kelli poses with Lorenzo on his beloved bike

Dale: Without giving away spoilers, let’s talk a bit about the big purple pool table in the living room, or as you refer to it, the “800 lb gorilla.”  Are those kinds of challenges scary or fun when it comes to holiday decorating?
Kelli:  I love challenges in any designing.  It’s too easy to decorate an empty room!  Transforming the purple pool table into something worthy of Christmas was the challenge.  Because it’s also a source of entertainment, I had to create removable options and decor!  I wanted the table to look great even when the big items were removed…you’ll have to watch to see the solution.

Dale: And I have to ask, what was going through your mind at the design consult when Lorenzo mentioned that his pet lizard was roaming the house free?
Kelli:  Luckily I am not afraid of reptiles but one of my design assistants nearly passed out! My daughter Alexa (on camera with me) came to be a helper and keep her eye out for the lizard – operation Lizard Watch was in full effect for 2 days!!

Dale: I loved your DIY décor for the Lamas home.  Do you have any “tried and true” DIY decorating tips for our viewers?
Kelli:  Yes, my tried and truisms for Holiday Decor…

  • For artificial trees: always use a filler shiny fabric or cellophane to fill inside the sparse area where the “limbs” meet the “trunk.
  • Use reflective surfaces inside the tree, as well, to throw light back out and reflect lights.
  • Use pipe cleaners instead of hooks nothing will fall off ever!
  • Lights, lights, lights….weird dark spots on tables, floors, and around the tree base?…add a string of lights!
  • Use battery lights for bowls, glass dishes on the tables and chandeliers.

Dale: Now let’s do what I like to call a “Quick Three.”

Favorite holiday decorating trend this year?
Edison light bulbs on the tree … dying over those!!

What color(s) did you “crush on” in 2013?
Tiffany teal blue and brushed gold

For our Pinterest users, mason jar décor…way over or coming back in 2014?
Kelli: Ha! Well considering they were invented in 1858 and haven’t left yet, I’d say with confidence “Coming back” – Especially with the grass roots/natural approach to our designs (now moving into commercial use) we haven’t seen the end of the jar.  As long as reclaimed wood is on the walls, the jar lives!

D: And one last question…I won’t give it away for our viewers, but were you nervous at the final reveal for Lorenzo and Shawna?
Kelli: I don’t get nervous, I get very very excited!  I felt great about the design and confident they would be happy with the overall look.  The only thing I was concerned about was Lorenzo’s reaction to my putting anything on the his beloved pool table… I had to show him the care we took in protecting the felt so he could enjoy the design.  It can be a bit overwhelming to see your home so transformed.  His reaction was so sweet and touching.  He thanked me profusely for giving his girls the Christmas they’ve always wanted!  That was a gift to me.

Kelli reveals her holiday makeover

D: Thanks Kelli and Happy Holidays.  We can’t wait for Celebrity Holiday Homes!
Kelli: Thanks Dale, loved chatting! Happy Holidays to all the HGTV readers and fans, love you guys!!

Believe me, you do not want to miss the Lamas family’s reaction to their holiday makeover.  Follow Kelli on Twitter (@designerkelli) for more tidbits from the show (or just because she is ahhh-mazing).

And don’t miss the premiere of Celebrity Holiday Homes, this Friday 8/7c on HGTV.

In the meantime, here’s a little preview (go ahead, it’s ok to peek).



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