Virginia-Highland florist Laura Iarocci joined dozens of professional and amateur designers and crafters who helped turn the White House into a holiday wonderland over the course of a few days in late November.
Iarocci, owner of Faith Flowers on North Virginia Avenue, arrived with other volunteers from across the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day to begin their work. On Saturday, she took a break from overseeing 25 volunteers who were decorating the Cathedral of St. Philip for Christmas services to talk to Patch about her White House experience.
Q. What did it feel like to help decorate the White House for the holidays?
“It was so exciting to be in the White House. We were crawling around on the floor, picking stuff up, dropping things … pulling it all together.”
“They recycle and reuse virtually everything. I thought that was really interesting. …I wired in a gajillion pieces of fruit..”
Q. How did you get selected to be part of this effort?
There is an online application process. I applied in June and pretty much forgot about it until I heard from them in September.
I had to submit photos of my décor work to be considered. About half a dozen of the volunteers were floral designers, but most of the volunteers were people who just love crafting.
“It was a huge honor and a privilege to get to do it, kind of a once in a lifetime thing to do.”
Q. Did you get to work on a particular project that was your own, or were you all contributing to a planned design?
“The logistics of this thing are just incredible.”
The design elements I worked on included helping to wire 6,000 glass ornaments onto an archway. Each ornament had to be individually wired into a garland. “We had to figure out the logistics of how to do that.”
Q. Of course, the White House is much more grand in size and style than most Atlanta homes. Is there anything about this experience that would translate into advice that most of us could use in our own holiday decorating?
The Green Room was decorated with hanging terrariums - globes with a little succulent or some moss of a tiny pinecone. These are pretty and original looking ornaments ”and you can put them in your window and enjoy them the rest of the year.
Another one of my favorites was a Christmas tree decorated with hand-blown glass ornaments that were arranged in swags of color. “I think that’s something that people shy away from, using so much color. And it was the most beautiful tree ever.”
Q. How long have you had your flower shop in Virginia-Highland?
Since October. I’ve taught flower arranging classes for a long time and I decided it was time to have my own shop.
Most of my focus is on teaching classes and doing floral arrangements for weddings and events.
Q. What kinds of arrangements do you like to do at this time of year?
“I find people are wanting sort of fresh, new ideas.” Many want décor with shades of beige and cream with touches of silver.
“I use lots of leftover cuttings from Christmas trees and I try to use things from client’s homes from their yards.”