By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Venetian-born Katia Bates, best known for her interior design of the former Versace Mansion on South Beach, sees Christmas as a time to gather family and make memories.
Contessa Veneziana, her Mediterranean-style home on one of the Las Olas Isles in Fort Lauderdale, is elaborately decorated, but she says people don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the holiday special.
“Simplicity and elegance can go a long way,” Bates says. “One can decorate the holiday table with a Santa Claus, Christmas flowers and candles. The past few holidays people didn’t have as much to spend. I have seen friends with fabulous decorations for dinner parties using what they had with a few new pieces.”
City & Shore What do you suggest for an inexpensive update?
Katia Bates People can go to a florist or The Home Depot and buy seven or eight poinsettias. They do a great job. I wrap them in beautiful red paper and nice ribbon and put holes in the bottom so the water drains. I like to place them on large red plates. If I entertain, I use small candles. It is a fabulous look and very affordable.
C&S How did you decorate for Christmas in Venice?
KB People buy a Christmas tree and place it outside in their garden courtyard. If they are facing a canal, they decorate their windows and balconies. They have additional decorations inside. My family had a small tree inside and a bigger tree outside.
C&S What surprised you about holiday décor in the United States?
KB When I came to this country I was surprised and excited. In Italy I never saw other than traditional Christmas colors – red, green, gold, silver. Never pink.
C&S Did you ever try something new?
KB Last year a friend in Miami had a charity fundraiser with designer-decorated trees for the Little Dreams Foundation in the Miami Design District. I bought a real tree, flocked it in white and decorated it in pink and white.
C&S White lights or colored?
KB White is simple. Colored lights are too showy.
C&S What was your European family’s reaction to your decoration here?
KB When my family comes here and sees all the lights, they laugh. We put Christmas lights on the trunks of the palm trees. My Christmas is a lot bigger than my mother’s. I created my own look with a lot of red and gold. I use a lot of candles – 8 and 12 inches round. In Europe, people tend to use skinny candles. They love to see the difference.
C&S Do your decorations evoke memories?
KB I have ornaments from when we first got married and my children’s first Christmas. A lot of them are ceramics my children made when they attended an arts-and-crafts program. I have a special decoration for the millennium – I bought a big red ball and put it in front of the tree every year. It was a very special moment.
Katia Bates, Innovative Creations, 1437 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-565-4333, innovativecreationsusa.com.