Open House: Rich and Noelle’s Christmas (Two) Story

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Hello folks.  I ran this post on December 4th, 2008 (which was Noelle’s birthday), and ’tis the season, so here we go again:

Today I’m going to tell you a good old fashioned Christmas story, a tale so unlikely you may think I’m pulling your leg. Speaking of legs, what’s a good Christmas story without the much beloved leg lamp from the movie A Christmas Story? Those are only a few of the ingredients you need to spin a good Christmas tale. In fact, the process is a lot like making the perfect eggnog recipe; certain ingredients are required to make it unassailable (like booze).

So here’s my recipe for Christmas bliss:

  1. The Christmas Story Leg Lamp – Check
  2. George Bailey – Check
  3. Noel (or Noelle in this case) – Check
  4. An elfen workshop – Check
  5. A man with a great big laugh who delivers Christmas cheer (but all year) – (That’s Rich) – Check
  6. An evil scrooge (That’s me) – Check
  7. Eggnog – Triple check

Continued . . .


The Martini’s met fifteen years ago when they both worked in the Christmas industry, Noelle as a meeting planner and Rich as a sales rep. Eventually Rich founded his own holiday decor company Holiday Bright Lights and Noelle became a sales rep for another holiday company Midwest of Cannon Falls.*

After a long courtship, the couple married on December 30th of 2006 and after years living in Roscoe Village, they bought a newly rehabbed home in Ravenswood with a large living room, kitchen and a basement workshop suitable for the North Pole (the home’s mechanicals run overhead so Noelle’s workshop has a very low ceiling, but nobody who works there seems to notice. Hmm.)

Not content at people chuckling incredulously and punching them in their arms when they share their unbelievable story, the couple bought a dog last year and named him . . . ready for it . . . George Bailey. Big Bailey (as I affectionately dubbed him) just turned one on December 11th, but he’s already heavier than Jimmy Stewart.

Continued . . .


So whatever winter holiday you suffe . . . celebrate, enjoy the next few weeks (eggnog my friends). And check out Rich’s company Holiday Bright Lights. They have the best prelit artificial Christmas trees (according to the catalog they could fool Mother Nature herself and while Mother Nature doesn’t agree with me, I do agree with her in this instance – a rare truce). Rich’s goods are also available through Hammacher Schlemmer and Frontgate (and are now lighting the Mag Mile).

The Martini’s are an old-fashioned kind of couple who work hard but have a wonderful life with many close friends and family. And Christmas isn’t just a business for them – they clearly love it, laughing as they tell stories and discuss the different holiday trends. Noelle mixes vintage Christmas ornaments with an assortment of past holiday favorites for a home that’s warm and festive without feeling overdone.

And about that literally unbelievable story of theirs, as it turns out the family has a propensity for name games. Rich’s sister’s name is Marguerite. That’s right, Margarita Martini. They called her Double Shot. And Noelle’s college roommate (who is temporarily crashing with them while her fiance explores St. Louis***) is named Joelle. Noelle and Joelle. So it’s all true (maybe).

Click here to see past Open House tours.
And email me if you have a cool home or know somebody who does (and preferably who also knows you) – strangeclosets@yahoo.com.


That’s Noelle’s engagement ring. Cool huh?


The family room off the kitchen.


That’s me – such a cyclops.


Hello there George Bailey. I met you only twice, but I do love you.


You too Small Fry


The tub is a mustard-y color. It’s an unexpected but perfect choice. I so envy people with this kind of talent.


Noelle’s workshop


I love the paneling – breathtaking.


If you’re still reading, I put this little jingle together (remember – you heard it here first).

‘Twas the night before Christmas
In the just rehabbed house
But rest was not forthcoming
No time to read Proust**

The stockings were wrapped,
Boxed and shipped with care
Because Holiday Bright Lights
Guarantees you a festive lair

(Pretty good jingle for a scrooge huh? Am I right?)

* Unverified sources say the cross-company romance caused an uproarious clamor in the famously cut-throat Christmas industry, but the much-in-love couple accomplished what few couples are able and forged a happy ending to their corporate Romeo and Juliet story.  I would imagine.

* * Pretend this rhymes

* * * Home of the World Famous Tourist Destination the St. Louis Arch (Brought to you by friends of the St. Louis Arch)

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13 Responses to “Open House: Rich and Noelle’s Christmas (Two) Story”

  1. That is one beautiful tree!

  2. So nice!!

  3. The dining room is elegant, traditional but timeless. Beautiful home.

  4. That’s a beautiful house.

  5. Great job – very nice!

  6. Lovely home. Methinks they got married five days too late…

  7. What a great story! I love their home, too.

  8. Stunning house and gorgeous Christmas decorating. I love it!

  9. Hmmm…. I need to pick a color to paint the clawfoot tub in my downstairs bathroom. Mustard looks nice!

  10. decorator dave 22. Dec, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I gave the leg lamp to my brother a few years ago. His wife at the time was less than impressed with the gift; in fact, it still perpetually graces his living room and he enjoys telling guests that his ‘fancy decorator brother in Chicago picked this out for him’. Ralphie’s house is actually a museum now (only in America) and they will send you the leg lamp, crated and packed as per the movie.

  11. Thanks Dave. Road trip!

  12. That house is in Cleveland. Can I go with?

  13. wowww,what a story,,you guys can compete in “cool homes” competition really.By the way,I loved that leggy lamp,,lolz,,,