Local designer specializes in Christmas trees


^ Posted Dec. 9

By Josette Keelor

When Rich Orndorff needed someone to design a Christmas tree for the lobby of the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, which he manages at 33760 Old Valley Pike in Strasburg, local designer David Lassiter seemed an obvious choice.

In Lassiter's Strasburg shop, E. Pearls Garden & Antiques, predecorated Christmas trees sell for anywhere from $45 to $1,200.

"That's our specialty," said Lassiter's wife and store co-owner Sara Davis.

Like most of Lassiter's designs, the tree in the Marriott does not display a typical red and green palette, and it's just that unexpectedness that has intrigued those who have visited the hotel's lobby so far.

"This is the creative artistic eye that he has," Orndorff said. Drawing from the lobby's orange, green and blue color motif -- the Green Tea Package that Marriott uses for its Gen 3 hotels -- Lassiter designed the tree within a single evening.

When Orndorff saw photos of the tree that an employee texted him, he said he was stunned and delighted at the result, which he commissioned to welcome members of the Chamber of Commerce and Business to Business Networking group, who will come for an event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 20.

"I wanted something very different this year and something to really wow our folks," Orndorff said. The tree wowed him as well.

"This is amazing," he said. In four hours' time, Orndorff said, "This is what he's able to create."

For Lassiter, though, it's just what he does.

"People always say, 'Oh, you're doing magic,'" said Lassiter, "and it is magic."

He knew what he wanted to do for the Marriott because of the colors the room offered, he said.

In decorating, he said, "There's always the element of surprise. That interior up there is very modern, eclectic." So he used an eclectic collection of fabric, ornaments and letter squares that spell out "Peace."

On the tree, "It's almost 12 yards of fabric, per color," Lassiter said.

Doing the unexpected is the sort of lesson he plans to teach future students in classes that he wants to start offering in January. The addition of design classes will be one of many intended changes to the store, including expanding into the building Lassiter owns next door, adding in a flower shop and vintage clothing and phasing out some of the antiques to make room for a coffee shop.

"We'll be an accent to the town versus a competition," Lassiter said, "which I think is very important."

On a recent afternoon at his shop, Lassiter started working on centerpieces and a counter display that Orndorff asked him to furnish as well. Using a Henry Lauder's Walking Stick that he grew in the back yard of the 188 West King Street store, within about 15 minutes he pulled together a glass container with beads and rocks to sturdy the walking stick with orange fabric, Christmas ornaments and decorative birds.

"An arrangement is done when you know it's done," he said. If uncertain that a particular item works with a design, he said, "leave it out. It doesn't need to be there."

"But I'm going to add birds to it, because it's natural, and that's an element of surprise," he said.

"Everyone needs to see something that captures your imagination," he said.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com


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