Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Carnival... Design On Ice

Winter Carnival, St. Paul, Minnesota; google images

One of the elements important to seasonal design is being true to where you are at the time… both figuratively & literally. Inhabitants in areas that experience serious winters know what to expect after the frost first appears, and actually adopt nature’s chilly characteristics into their lives. They have learned to embrace the iciness!

Many cities in the northern United States and Canada celebrate the season with festive carnivals. Having grown up in Michigan, I have personal experience with two such events, albeit fairly humble ones. My parents and I had a cottage located near Houghton Lake, which is the largest inland lake in Michigan. Each year the town holds a festival on the frozen lake called “Tip Up Town,” in reference to the device that indicates above the ice that you indeed have a catch below ice. We were never into fishing, but we did enjoy being able to drive, walk and even dine (if dining includes a steaming bowl of chili and piping hot chocolate!) on a huge expanse of ice!

Tip Up Town, Houghton Lake, Michigan; google images

When I first went away to college, I really went AWAY to college… 550 miles from my home in the suburbs of Detroit… to Michigan Tech in Houghton, on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Suffice it to say that Houghton gets a lot of snow, and MTU’s mascot is a Husky for a reason! The major event of the year at Tech is Winter Carnival, which includes such revelry as the crowning of a Carnival Queen. But the big deal is the creation of bigger-than-life ice sculptures… as you can imagine, working with hoses gushing with water when it is zero degrees outside is not for the un-hearty souls! Each year the Carnival has a theme which inspires the student groups to design unique and hopefully winning sculptures in the competition.

Michigan Technological University Winter Carnival, Houghton, Michigan

Delta Sigma Phi won 2nd Place this year with "Harry the Wizard Fights in a Blizzard"

So, what does all this have to do with interior design? Well, design often imitates environment, and the crystalline ambiance of an icy Winter Carnival translates beautifully into a stunning interior space.

Winter Carnival, St. Paul, Minnesota; google images

Here are some ideas for bringing frosty features into your home...

Lit Mercury Glass Globes; Pottery Barn

Crystal Puck Light; Lamps Plus

Rippled Glass Bud Vases; Pottery Barn

Zelda Vase; Crate & Barrel

Twilight Candlesticks in Middle Blue; Objects of Envy

Crystal Paperweight; Lamps Plus

I am certainly not implying that you would change out your chandelier each season! However, if you live in the north country, or simply love a wintry aesthetic, a chandelier can truly exemplify iciness...

Acqua Chandelier;; (This also has a wonderfully watery, under-the-sea look!)


The look of a million icicles dangle from this breathtaking Seguso Chandelier;

Although I like the idea of bringing subtle nuances of the chilly north into my interiors, I am not sure what I think about staying in one on vacation...

Ice Hotel, Norway; google images

Ice Hotel, Sweden; google images

Royal Deluxe Suite at the Ice Hotel, Sweden;

Although the rooms are stunning, I don't know if I could ever get truly comfortable at an "Ice Hotel." What about you?


  1. Katherine, I really like the post - the beauty of ice and cold - such nice pictures. Love the pillows! Very nice banner for your 4 Seasons blog. All of your blog is quietly sophisticated with a touch of personal warmth and caring - as well as your own style! Keep it up. Also - between you and me, you are a great writer. I like your lush images and touches of humor, and envy your ability to stay with a theme topic.

    Lots of "warm" wishes; you are cool and sweet and a dear friend!

  2. Love the post - and the design changes to the blog. Those "ice palaces" are always amazing to me and I like how you pulled products that fit the theme!

  3. Hi Katherine!

    Wow, we should have more of that in New England! Maybe we wouldn't dread the winters as much! And I am a total fan of glass and crystal! I love how your post showed us some "interior ice"!

  4. Also being from Michigan, but not the UP, can relate to the winter themes. The HP ice sculpture is amazing! Almost worth a ride up north to see it. And to your question -- not at all interested to vacation in an ice house. Pretty to look at and intersting, but I'm under several layers of blankets in winter even with central air. By the way, today was the first day this season that I've felt tired of winter. Must be the 10 inches of very heavy snow we shoveled on President's day.

  5. I can relate to Molly & everyone who is beyond tired of winter... this has been a tough one for most of us & it's charm has indeed worn off. But you can't blame northern dwellers for trying to make the best of it, right? I wonder who actually stays at the ice hotels? It doesn't seem like anyone who lives in the places that have them, like Norway & Sweden, would find them to be the best 'getaways'! Anyway, until Spring arrives, I hope that the only ice that we experience from here on out is either interior design 'bling' or is in our (cocktail) glasses:)


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