Christmas Around Every Corner in Regency: At Home with Tony Tyrrell & Dan GartinOct 28, 2020 08:18AM ● By Hannah Amrollahi
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Tony Tyrrell comes by his Christmas cheer quite naturally.
“It runs in my family. My brother is that way. My mom is that way,” he said.
A few years ago, before Halloween, Tyrrell’s mother took ill and they “almost lost her.”
“So, it’s always been very important to me to know that when she’s going to be here for Thanksgiving to have the Christmas stuff up because she loves that,” he said. “For me, this all kind of originated with my mom. I even go over [to her house] and set up their stuff.”
Tyrrell, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and his husband, Dan Gartin, CEO of Turning Point Partners, will often host Thanksgiving dinner with 20 guests and decorate their 1966 remodeled split-level home in Regency. Scott Lindhorst Lawn Care & Snow Removal hangs and stores the exterior holiday lighting—primarily classic white lights that line the porch roof and second story, allowing the decorative tree in the wide, front-facing living room window and the wreath out front to take center stage. Inside, holiday cards are displayed on an entry table in front of the first of many reindeer and tree statues.
“It is so easy these days to get swallowed by every other stimulus,” Gartin said. “It’s nice when I come home here and it’s all lit up and pretty. It’s relaxing.”
The colors of Christmas are paired on each level, including silver and gold in the living room, kitchen, and dining room, with red accents added in the bedrooms and finished basement den.
“I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas,” Tyrrell said. “I’m the guy that wants to sit by the fire and play the piano and drink eggnog and sing all night. I’m also the guy that will sit [in the living room] and turn all the lights out except for the Christmas tree.” (Cue the “White Christmas” music.)
The entertainment space downstairs features “Dan’s tree” in silver and blue. The decorations occasionally replace, but more often blend, with year-round art and mementos from a worldly life. A modern circular sculpture in the entryway meshes with the temporary letters and trees. Downstairs, a barracuda caught by Gartin on a boat tour off the Yucatan peninsula holds a tiny blue ornament in its toothy jaws.
“It’s having Christmas on every level, so you’re not tied to one room,” Tyrrell said.
The eclectic mix is immersive and spread out so it “touches” rather than overwhelms. The variety is also easy to tweak each year. Details put “Christmas around the corner” through statues, throw pillows and blankets, decorative wine covers, all the way down to coasters with tongue-in-cheek goodwill.
The epicenter of the holiday wonderland is the living room, featuring wallpaper accents and a sloped ceiling. The slope continues in the open floor-plan kitchen and dining room, both well-lit by high windows that provide privacy and light.
“You don’t really realize how much time it takes and how much energy it is,” Gartin said of the decorating process.
The three full-sized trees are products of a decorating roundabout that enlists the couple’s friends. Each year, a group of roughly 10 get together and deck one another’s halls.
“Before all this started with friends, there is no way I could have gotten a tree to look like that,” said Tyrrell, pointing to one of the elegant pines draped in decor. “It took me having some other creative minds and juices coming in.”
The group also assists a 94-year-old friend whose family visits for the holidays.
“We make sure we have everything set up and ready for her so she doesn’t have to worry about it,” Tyrrell said. “It gives us an opportunity to spend time with her again.”
His advice beyond making the setup fun and communal is to invest in a few pieces you can rely on each year. The advances in artificial trees with customized lighting options make them a quality purchase, for instance. Gartin contributes attentive wrapping and organized packing for storage in the original boxes. It can be fun to be “on trend” and attuned to ideas year-round, but Tyrrell focuses on who will be enjoying the decorations more so than a specific style.
“If you want a Charlie Brown tree, do a Charlie Brown tree. If you want hot pink and black, do hot pink and black. Make it your own,” Tyrrell said. “It goes back to the memory making.”
Besides decorating, Tyrrell and Gartin’s friends and family have sung Christmas carols, visited nursing homes, “adopted” families for gift-giving, and bar-hopped in ugly holiday sweaters. For this couple, the season is about looking outside themselves, even in their own home.
“I was raised in the Midwest. My grandpa used to say, ‘If you’re blessed, it’s not yours to keep, it’s yours to give,’” Gartin said. “Providing something that otherwise people might not get.”
“I get the gift of giving,” Tyrrell said. “I most certainly want memories to be made, good times to be had, because I think in today’s world it can just escape you so fast.”
This article was printed in the November/December 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.