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From the Desk of Dixie

  • Q & A with Tastemaker Laura Nell Burton

Q & A with Tastemaker Laura Nell Burton

We are excited to share our Q & A with Laura Nell Burton with you! Laura Nell is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Cloche Designs which specializes in event and wedding design and planning. Based in San Antonio, Texas, the Cloche team is known for its dedication to creating lovely meaningful details for their clients. We featured the beautiful holiday home decorations of Laura Nell earlier this week

As one of our Holiday Tastemakers this year, Laura Nell collaborated with Dixie artist Gina Langford to create a stunning holiday paper collection that features Laura Nell's family crest. You can shop this collection that here, and we have also featured it at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading for the details on the precious holiday traditions that Laura Nell has established with her three children including trimming her tree with ornaments from childhood, as well as the creative inspiration she continues to draw from her talented late mother.

What did you dream of being when you were a kid 
& What is your most sentimental Christmas tree trimming?: 

Growing up I starred in school plays and musicals and dreamed of being on the Broadway stage. Every Christmas my mother would give me ornaments that represented significant milestones from the year gone by. All of those ornaments are all very precious to me today but my most treasured of all were the ones she needlepointed for me with the names of each play and musical—happy memories that are still such a gift! I don’t believe in Christmas trees full of pretty ornaments with no meaning – I am very sentimental about my tree and can pretty much tell you the story, meaning behind and giver of every ornament on my tree! When Cloche Designs decorates our clients’ homes for the holidays, we always have the client trim their own tree first as a family activity, then we come in and just tweak a little with colored balls and ribbon to tie the tree into the rest of how we trim the house.

Favorite Holiday Tradition:

My favorite holiday tradition is that growing up I would bake and decorate an entire cookie scene for Santa each year. My mother would wrap a large piece of cardboard in pretty wrapping paper and I would create Santa in his sleigh with reindeer in the sky and houses with Christmas trees below. She gave me full creative freedom and I always made a beautiful mess of flour, icing and sprinkles everywhere! She curated a wonderful collection of cookie cutters for me that I still have after four decades and today my three children make their own beautiful mess with the same cookie cutters.

Dream Dinner Date: 

My favorite country is Italy, and my favorite Italian city is Positano. So, if I could beam myself to any corner of the world for dinner it would be with my favorite dinner date (my husband) to La Sponda Restaurant at Le Sirenuse Hotel which is illuminated by four hundred candles and overlooks the Amalfi coast. I would drink cold, crisp pinot grigio and indulge in fresh oysters, and decadent truffle seafood pasta and finish off the evening with cappuccino and Limoncello.

Favorite Last Minute Holiday Gift Idea:

You can never go wrong with a Christmas ornament chosen with the gift recipient specifically in mind (make it meaningful) and I always love a good coffee table book – my latest favorite is Reese Witherspoons’ new book Whisky in a Teacup. I also believe you can never have too many linens or sets of china! My parents travel a lot and they have started shopping for vintage pieces of my wedding china (Herend Queen Victoria) throughout the year and tucking them away for my birthday and Christmas – which isn’t last minute but it’s so incredibly thoughtful and touches me so much each time I open their packages that I wanted to share the idea.

Most memorable read: 

I have so many favorite books! I’m proud to own Harry Potter first editions which I devoured in my 20s and I think J.K. Rowling’s success story—overcoming dozens of literary rejections and major personal obstacles is incredibly inspiring—girl power! A recent read I loved is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr about a blind French girl as she tries to survive the devastation of World War II. I was a journalism major in college and I love words—truly the perfect combination of nouns, adjectives and verbs is absolutely an art form! In this book the gorgeous physical detail (illustrated through the hands of a child who cannot see—which I cannot fathom since my own eyes are my creative compass) is palpable and the metaphors are so beautiful, I highly recommend it.

Favorite San Antonio eatery: 

My favorite San Antonio restaurant is The Argyle which is housed in a wonderful mansion built in the late 1800s as the headquarters of a horse farm. The Argyle as it stands today was founded as a non-profit private dining club in the late 1940s for the sole purpose of raising funds for biomedical research. I have made countless memories on the grounds of The Argyle including my own wedding. My husband and I take our children there often after church on Sundays and it is our favorite San Antonio date night spot. Even with the coat and tie dress code, and mannerly atmosphere my children consider it their favorite dining experience. There is something magical about The Argyle and its old-world traditions preserved over time, that cannot be matched anywhere.

What inspires you most? 

My greatest inspiration is the memory of my mother who was a textile artist and died at the age of 43 when I was only 16. She was an extraordinary creative and taught me the art of eclectic juxtaposition. I definitely channel her when I am marrying high with low, or playing with different textures, colors and styles. Growing up, she would say to me “Laura Nell, you have magic.” Not a day passes that I don’t hear those words echo in my mind, they have defined my life.
I have a strong faith and believe that we were knitted together by a Creator who places in us a deeply seeded yearning for an Eden so glorious it is beyond our wildest imagination, which is why we all walk this earth in the first place. That pursuit of beauty is fundamentally what drives me each and every day, and it is the heartbeat of Cloche Designs.

Prized Possession: 

My wedding ring, because it is the outward symbol of what matters to me most on this earth, my precious husband who gives me a beautiful home life and love story to live out each day with our three children, Nancy Nell (12), Marguerite (8) and Byron (6).

Go-to hostess gift: 

You can never go wrong with French milled soap, a Diptyque candle or classic Veuve Cliquot champagne (tie a thick satin ribbon around the bottle neck with a Dixie Design gift tag and you’ll win every time)!

Hidden Talent: 

Something unexpected is that even though I am a creative, I also have a very Type A personality. I am super organized, and I love lists! I spent ten years in marketing and public relations in the Big Four accounting industry working for demanding accountants who had the highest professional expectations of me. I am so thankful for the experience and skills I learned under the leaders that groomed me during that time in my career because it has balanced out the right and left sides of my brain which has proved invaluable in running a business.

Coffee: 

Um, yes! I drink one cup in the morning and then on the way to pick my kids up from school I indulge in a vanilla latte to-go from Local Coffee here in San Antonio. I literally pack my lunch for work at home so that I don’t feel bad about the daily expense of my heavenly vanilla latte! I also cannot live without chardonnay (don’t forget a few ice cubes)!

What is your number one tool of the trade? 

Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks! There will be critics but it is ultimately up to you to decide whether they will define you and whether you will let them steal your fire. Go with your gut. Walk to your own beat! Make your own magic! Be passionate! There are no rules when it comes to creativity. You be you!