A bay window, front-lawn garden, and wide staircase are all opportunities for decorative splendor, and season after season, year after year Pamela Binienda maximizes the potential of her 117 Milton Street home. Greenpoint has a number of stop-you-in-your-track decorations (we recently caught up with the residents of 53 Franklin, neighborhood natives known for their bobblehead figurines), and 117 Milton is a showstopper.
Binienda’s work is known for its abundant garden, spooky Halloween displays, and, of course, Christmas decorations so festive even the North Pole must be envious. It’s no surprise then, that Binienda is a professional decorator, working with esteemed clientele. Here, she chats with Greenpointers about her work, the labor of love that is her annual holiday display, and just how many trick-or-treaters she gets each October.
Greenpointers: Hello Pamela! Let’s start at the beginning, how long have you lived on Milton Street?
Pamela Binienda: I am a Greenpoint native, and I can proudly say I’ve lived on Milton Street most of my life; this is my family’s property.
Did you immediately begin decking the house out at holidays, or did it grow over the years?
Growing up, as a child, I would often help my father decorate the exterior of the house. My father was a designer, and it was he who laid the “foundation” to the décor (a detailed entryway garland with massive pinecones and ribbons, an impressive wreath under the bay window). For over a decade, I have taken on the role and have expanded the extent of the display (just look all the way up!). My taste has evolved over time, and with each year, I often pull back aspects I “played” around with and have tried to be attentive in creating a well composed, traditional Christmas look; I admire a display that is remarkably rich, yet not “gaudy Christmas”. I am inspired by Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and London holiday installations. I think “over the top” is great if it is well balanced and most importantly, cohesive (which can be a challenge at Christmas)!
It seems you also have a decorating business, which makes sense given your amazing displays. How is that going?
Yes, amongst the other production design industries I am involved in, I am a decorator, florist, and landscaper for corporate, residential, and small business clients (North Side Pharmacy, Macys, Fisher Brothers, Kate Spade, H&M to name a few I have worked with). Business has picked up and I am proud of the clients and projects I am involved with. In this industry, my friends and coworkers are predominantly talented craft professionals. We all support each other, and “word of mouth” goes a long way whether it be a referral from a job teammate, or a client. I look forward to future endeavors.
Christmas isn’t the only holiday you go all out for: Halloween is also a treat. Do you get tons of trick-or-treaters?
Christmas is the display I enjoy most but I am most particular about keeping it classy. Halloween is the one I can truly express my whimsical imagination and I go hard on lighting and creating spooky, animated “magic.” I get 1000+ children on Halloween, and that is not a rough estimate! I started keeping track of how many “candy count” bags I purchase to hand out. I would say…I get tons!
Does your inside Christmas decorating match the outside’s flair?
The inside of my home is truly Christmas. Just look at the bay window and you will see the prized centerpiece, my plump 10-foot tree (and yes, it is one tree with three stars and an angel). I have a couple unique architectural features which I take advantage of, including a massive archway lined with decorative twinkly garland. There is a traditional fireplace mantel where a Christopher Radko Santa on a sleigh with flying reindeer rest, garlands drape, and candles flicker. The chandeliers, credenzas, and even my outdoor terrace all have a touch of Christmas. I love a NYC, Rockefeller Christmas vibe; you could find functional brass trumpets, French horns, and richly textured ribbon throughout. It is a warm and magical feeling to come home.
Holiday decorations around Greenpoint are so special. Do neighbors ever tell you how much they love the festive display?
We live in such a lovely neighborhood where I have witnessed property and business owners stepping up their décor! Yes, and it sincerely warms my heart witnessing people’s reactions and hearing their compliments. I am humbled. It is a good feeling to know something I have created not only pleases me but that it may bring joy to others. Hearing a “wow!” or witnessing a group of friends or a couple embracing each other in a special moment in front of my display reminds me why I do this and encourages me to do so every year!
Anything else you want to add?
I simply want to say thank you to everyone who expresses their admiration for my efforts, and I am happy if I made your season, whichever it is, a little brighter. I would be thrilled to create that magic for anyone seeking it at their own home! I will add, I take pride in my front garden, and I welcome all to admire from a distance and smell the roses…but please don’t pick the flowers!