David Blair has 26 decorated Christmas trees inside his two-bedroom home in Los Angeles' Studio City neighborhood. Still, he's used fewer than half of the 10,000 ornaments in his burgeoning collection, which now overflows his closets, garage and rented storage space.
"There are trees in every room, even the kitchen and bath. It's kind of an obsession," he cheerfully admits.
Step through Blair's front door and you're awash in the cozy glow of this year's fantasy: a 30-foot-long living room that feels uncluttered despite its seven trees, each with a different theme.
His "antique tree" is tall and full-bodied, all its ornaments family heirlooms or vintage finds gathered over years. A spun-glass butterfly from the 1920s is one favorite. A blown-glass bunny with an expressive painted face, from 1930s Germany, is another. The tea and coffee pots made of black glass are from his grandparents' ornament collection - a remembrance of childhood yules in Ohio, where his passion for Christmas decorating began.
In a far corner, his Asian-theme tree is hung with fragile pagodas, lanterns, kimonos and ginger jars, which look like paper but are actually spun glass. The room's main tree, majestic and flocked in white, announces the color theme - all silver, blue and white - and every ornament apparently meaningful to Blair.
Meet him in March, May or August, and he'll tell you what ornament he's searched for on the Internet that day. Find him away on vacation, and he'll list all the holiday decor shops in the area. "We pull into a hotel," he says, "and I instantly grab a phone book to see what Christmas stores are around."
He and his partner, Dan Darwish, recently traveled to Chicago and New York. A trip to Italy is in the works.
Blair's creative flair includes an eye for restraint. Sure, there's what some might call an overabundance of trees. But the ambience is muted. No glare, no ornaments with sound or moving parts, no lights twinkling on and off. Nothing to mar the serene glimmer of a home bathed in ecumenical holiday cheer.
Two matching 7-foot trees stand in dining room corners, each laden with Italian glass fruits and vegetables. Smaller trees are banked behind the kitchen sink; twig trees grace the bathroom counter. The master bedroom holds what Blair, 33, calls the favorite tree for guys: It's black and loaded with ornamental yellow and white taxicabs. That's a bow to Darwish, who collects ceramic cars.
The most fanciful tree in the house would make Curious George proud. Its brown fabric monkeys and yellow glass bananas are delights that last in memory long after one leaves the house.
"Kids love it, and they want to come back again and again," Blair says.
Friends have dubbed him the Hollywood Christmas Guy, and he has turned his personal passion into a home-based business of the same name, decorating for parties, though he emphasizes that the creations in his house are not for sale or public viewing. They are his personal pleasure, nothing more.
Aside from the penchant to make every day a holiday, "he's a pretty regular person," Darwish says with a chuckle.
The men say their annual holiday party (300 guests this year) is awaited by friends eager to see Blair's latest ideas.
"We change almost everything every year," he says.