The amount of mass-produced decorations that appear this time of year are enough to squash any creative impulse when it comes to holiday decorating.
Thank goodness for events like the Cambria Christmas Home Tour, which features six Cambria homes, each decorated in a distinctive seasonal style.
You’re bound to be inspired — or at least surprised — by these unique takes on holiday trimmings.
Have you ever considered incorporating cow skulls for a western theme? Recreating a charming English cottage? Or creating a log cabin ambience with antlers and berries gathered in the woods?
Here is a preview of the six homes on this year’s tour.
J. Patrick House
Built in the late 1920s, this home is believed to be Cambria’s first bed-and-breakfast. Since then, it has been renovated and redecorated in a contemporary rustic style.
Antique furniture and artifacts are repurposed in creative ways throughout the home. The front log house features a French balcony, crown molding from an old tin ceiling and a Civil War-era hay feeder. Serving as wall décor are 19th-century foundry gear patterns from Canada. The guest building has a 19th-century wardrobe from a Wells Fargo bank, once used to hold the gun belts of stagecoach drivers.
During the holidays, the inn is decorated with more antique finds such as sleigh bells from draft horses and old stocking stretchers — a novel interpretation of the Christmas stocking.
According to owner Ruth Maples, her residence may be the oldest continuously inhabited structure in San Luis Obispo County.
Built in 1865, it was named the Music House after one of its previous inhabitants. The one-time general store has also been a maternity home, restaurant and bed-and-breakfast.
When Maples purchased the home in 2015, she began a restoration that added modern comforts while maintaining its historical character.
Her favorite pieces include a 10-foot-long Chippendale dining table and a desk brought to California from the Midwest during the Great Depression by her grandmother. Maples’ year-round and holiday decorations are both inspired by the Victorian era.
Jodi and Gordon Swanson’s home has an unmistakable western flair. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Jodi’s great-grandfather is famed Western artist O.C. Seltzer.
The Swansons’ decorating style is rustic with touches of elegance. In the dining room, a rustic farmhouse table is crowned by an oversized glimmering chandelier.
Even holiday decorations have western flair with wrought-iron reindeer and cow skulls originally from the Gary Cooper Ranch in Montana displayed near the Christmas tree. Each bedroom gets in on the holiday spirit with special handmade bedding created from Christmas quilts.
Inside Kit and Gene Lamparter’s Craftsman-style home, Asian décor reflects the couple’s time living in in Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.
Each room holds an element of surprise. For instance, the living room coffee table is topped with an old hatch cover the Lamparters found on a beach in Okinawa.
The Lamparters’ holiday decorations are equally creative.
The focal point of their festive displays is a nativity scene that takes Gene Lamparter a full week to assemble, set along a 12-foot bar. It features a backdrop painted by Kit and pieces collected over a 40-year-span.
His wife, a former floral designer, has crafted numerous custom floral arrangements for the holidays.
Interior designer Laila Tallon and retired Hollywood set designer Scott Beukelman renovated two adjoining 1925 log cabins in 2013. They took pains to preserve what they could – from the wavy glass windows to the two stone fireplaces.
The couple’s holiday decorations are respectful of the cabin’s heritage. They have several traditional pieces, inherited from their parents and grandparents.
Others are simple items scavenged from the woods such as pine cones, twigs, evergreen branches, holly berries and antlers shed by stags.
Travis and Steve Srott want their guests to feel like they are in an authentic English cottage — right down to the manor house kitchen with its cast-iron range, a family heirloom brought from England.
Steve Scrott installed the home’s rustic pine flooring and wainscoting. Even the garden, with its boxwood borders and roses, is distinctively English.
Simple, timeless holiday decorations such as greenery, white lights and candles, enhance rather than detract from the couple’s collection of antiques including their large display of clocks in the dining room. The tree is left bare until Christmas; it’s a family tradition to decorate it together on Christmas Eve.
Cambria Christmas Home Tour
The Cambria Christmas Home Tour will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9.
The $40 ticket includes admission to six decorated homes, wine and refreshments. All proceeds benefit the Cambria Center for the Arts.
Tickets are available at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, the Cambria Center for the Arts Gallery and A Matter of Taste in Cambria.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/HolidayTourCambria.