Life as an event planner means late nights, weekends, and multitasking in a million different directions. But it’s the thrill of those creative aha moments that drives Rick Davis and Christopher Vazquez to spend their hours sketching, planning, and ultimately creating the backdrop for some of the most important events of our lives. Rick, a floral designer, and Christopher, a set designer, combine their talents, along with a team of artists, seamstresses, carpenters, and upholsterers, to reimage everyday spaces into the stuff of fantasy.
They turn drab conference rooms into lush, candlelit gardens brimming with walls of fresh greenery and blankets of moss. They finesse bland ballrooms with bursts of color and whimsical, storybook-inspired wonders. They bring art masterpieces to life with dramatic palettes, swaths of silk, and sweeping floral arrangements. Whatever the occasion, it becomes a little more meaningful thanks to their ability to strike a mood and set a scene. When it comes to their own life, however, it’s all about finding comfort in familiarity at their farmhouse in Maryland’s historic St. Mary’s County.
“We moved to the country 17 years ago so we could try it out,” says Rick. “We wanted to buy something old, but all of the houses looked like money pits.” Frustrated with the area’s housing stock but inspired by its Colonial-era charms, the duo set out to do what they do best; they decided to build a new farmhouse and fill it with all the best parts of a historic home.
“We’ve learned a lot of tricks in this business,” Rick says. “We do complete build-outs for parties, so we knew we could do the same with a home. And if you build something new that looks old, you know that everything will work.”
To that end, Rick and Christopher set their sights on a small farm with all the requisite makings of their dream. “We saw it on a blue-sky October day when the leaves were falling,” Rick says. “We were just standing there when it hit us and we thought, ‘This is it.’ ”
The 27 acres were mostly wooded with a pond and stream. There were pastures for growing dahlias and a barn that could shelter their rare birds and heritage farm animals. The little house that came with the property would suffice until the couple could build. The country life agreed with Rick and Christopher, and now their new old house is at the center of it all. “We put together four binders with pictures from magazines to find the look we wanted,” Rick says. “If we didn’t have that collection of ideas, it wouldn’t have worked.
Playing to historical notions, their design included retrofitting architectural salvage and replicating period designs. “We are always creating something new for our clients, but at home we don’t change much,” says Rick. “Occasionally we may work in a few new pieces here and there, but when we buy something we like, we keep it.”
When Christmas comes, the house gets even cozier thanks to a traditional red-and-green scheme and collected ornaments. Heirlooms come to the forefront, and with them, cherished memories. Years ago, Rick crafted an angel tree-topper by upcycling two different ornaments. “I made it when we first moved out of the city when I didn’t have much money,” he says. “It has so much sentimental value. Why would I ever get rid of that?” Clip-on mushrooms are reminders of a trip to Amsterdam, and the gold tassels belonged to Rick’s grandmother.
Traditions are equally important to the couple. “Every year, we host two big Christmas parties—one for city friends and country friends and another for family,” Rick says. “This house has brought us all together.”
Farm-Fresh Holiday Decorating Tips
Red and green are classic color choices when it comes to holiday decor. Rick and Christopher infused their home with boughs of evergreens and pine cones mixed with red flowers and berries, including amaryllis, cyclamen, roses, hypericum, and holly. Red plaid ribbon and other holiday accents add to the scheme.
Mix seasonal elements with year-round decor. “Adding to your collections makes them fresh again,” Rick says. Similarly, liven up everyday spaces with fresh flowers and greenery. Highlight windows and doors with wreaths and garlands.
Rick and Christopher’s life events can be told through their holiday collections. Ornaments recall travels, family moments, and special events. For instance, the Christmas stockings crafted from vintage fabric were the first holiday items the couple purchased at a craft fair 25 years ago and still hold pride of place fireside.
Rick and Christopher started collecting candlesticks a year ago. They now have enough to fill every tabletop in their house during parties. “We all gravitate toward things that have a common thread, which makes it easy to mix new finds in with your home’s decor,” Rick says. “Buy what you love and it’s guaranteed to work.”