From the 75 feet of real pine garland to the 9-foot-plus tree to the glittering touches at every turn, Patty and Ken Lennon's house is a cozy Christmas showcase.
The outside of the house, with two pines ablaze with lights and a fragrant wreath on the door, is equally impressive, although Patty doesn't think so.
Last year, when the outdoor decorations garnered an award from the Hartland Neighborhood Association, the Lennons came home to find a sign signifying the honor in their yard.
"I thought the neighbors had done it as a joke," said Patty, who works part-time as a nurse when she isn't busy being a Christmas elf.
But in the Lennons' house, decorating for Christmas is no joke. This year it started Nov. 1 — 54 days before Christmas.
Ken says he knows his place in this particular hierarchy: "I just carry stuff."
While he climbs the ladder to string the exterior lights, Patty is the art director.
"I just tell him how to lay it out," she said, pausing for effect, "and what color lights to use where."
Patty's attention to detail pays off in a colorful, lush-looking array of decorations she has created on a budget.
The smell of fresh garland greets guests outside the door and lays in waves along the staircase just behind the entry hall.
The garland, the front-door wreath and live tree in the living room come from one of the few tree stands in town that carries trees from Ashe County, N.C., where Patty is from. (One year they got their tree for free because, apparently, the tree guy owed Patty's cousin some money, and he repaid the debt in evergreen.) The front-yard trees — one is nearly 40 feet tall, the other is about 15 — are also from Ashe County and were replanted from the family's previous home. ("We are not moving them again," Ken said.)
The star of the show is the "family tree" in the living room. It is filled with ornaments made or loved by sons Alex, 22, and Ross, 19, as they were growing up. Getting out the ornaments is a yearly walk down memory lane, from Sammy Sosa in a slugging pose to miniature musical notes and a very bright green Incredible Hulk. It is all tied together with a broad swirl of red ribbon draped artfully around the broad tree.
Mixed in with a few Santas and bulbs are other family treasures: a star made by Ken's dad, a rocking horse that is also an heirloom.
A small faux tree adorned with buttons and scraps of ribbon sits in a bucket that was once used on a family farm by Ken's grandfather. Patty said she made the tree and a forest of others to give as gifts one year when money was tight.
In the dining room, Patty's decorating flair and eye for savings is on display. The ornate faux garland laden with lights, colorful spheres and glistening bows began as a bargain snip of greenery she bought in Berea.
The shimmering rust-colored runner on the dining room table is really a series of carefully arrayed place mats. The pillows of gold cloth flanked by stuffed pheasants, pine cones and clusters of holly berries are the napkins from the set.
In the front sitting room, the family's gleaming black piano is accented by a festive music-themed tree filled with golden instruments, musical notes and burgundy balls accented with white lights.
It's in this room on Christmas Day that the family gathers, sings carols, spends time together and "generally makes fools of ourselves," Patty said.
She honed her tree- trimming skills doing volunteer work for the Kidney Health Alliance of Kentucky's Trees of Life program. But, she said, her do-it-yourself decorations are within the grasp of most people willing to try.
Her advice for others hoping to create their own memorable decorations: Use what you have and love what you use.
Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.