Making Christmas Bright
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the home of Jennifer Maxwell– Lebleu! In fact, Christmas is alive in her home every day of the year. That’s because Jennifer does Christmas for a living.
Jennifer is the owner of Mama Noel Designs. The company specializes in luxurious Christmas décor, and Jennifer creates collections and recipes for the perfect tree.
Jennifer’s home functions as a showroom for Mama Noel Designs. She and her husband Jason Lebleu’s home is nestled on about eight acres of land. It was completed in June 2020 by Robbie Jackson of Jackson Home Builders and is located northeast of Cypress Black Bayou in north Bossier Parish.
Christmas decorating began in the home back in August. The end result is a total of 15 gorgeously adorned trees inside and outside the home. Ten of these trees feature Mama Noel Designs’ available 2021 collections.
Jennifer and Jason love New Orleans – and in fact, were married in NOLA. So, when they were planning the home’s design, they knew they wanted a New Orleans feel. The home’s grand front porch does just that. With whitewashed brick, slate tile underfoot and copper gas lanterns from Bevolo Gas & Electric of New Orleans, the home beckons guests to sit and visit in one of many rocking chairs.
Starting from the ends of the porch and working in, the Christmas décor includes a pencil tree with a red Christmas tree collar around the bottom. The trees are dressed in oversized ornaments in red and gold hues, sleigh bells, Nutcracker ribbon, and topped with red stars. Next are fourfoot-tall snowy-haired Nutcracker soldiers in brilliant red jackets and green pants. They stand next to planters filled with jumbo ornaments and a giant finial. There’s another Nutcracker stationed at the home’s front door.
Above the Nutcracker hangs a garland Jennifer crafted from four teardrop garlands, so it would be very thick, and jumbo ornaments. “That’s kind of a trick. If people would use jumbo ornaments, it’s dramatic, but it fills up a lot of space,” said Jennifer. “They’re really not that expensive for the space that they fill.” Jennifer says she loves finials.
Green and red finials, along with some Nutcracker finials, rain down from the wood ceiling above the porch.
This ensures visitors are immediately immersed in Christmas before they even walk into the home.
Once inside the home, marble-look 2x4 porcelain tiles gleam underfoot. The tile came from Floor & Décor in Dallas, and Jason laid the tile himself.
The home was built so it could be viewed straight through from the front door to the back of the land. The rear of the home is all doors and windows and transoms, allowing a view of the back porch and pergola. The couple keeps a deer feeder out back so they can sit and enjoy several deer that visit frequently. Jennifer loves duck eggs, so the couple also has 10 “white Aflac” ducks out back.
There are two different trees on the back patio. One features Mama Noel Designs’ Road to Bethlehem collection (page 35), with a couple of large paintings by Mississippi artist Haley Bush tucked amongst the branches. One painting is of the Three Wise Men, and the other is Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. The tree also has burlap ribbon, white and burlap poinsettias, and metallic ornaments. It’s topped with a gold star. The Woodland Chic tree has a similar color scheme with gold ornaments, crystals dripping from branches, pine cones, deer antlers, and is topped with a golden deer head.
Another focal point on the back porch is the dining table set for an intimate dinner, a large chandelier above bedecked with garland, gold finials and crystals.
Back inside the home, the living room mantel is the focal point and ready for a visit from Jolly Old Saint Nick. Stockings are hung with care, and champagne and baby blue touches are tucked along the garland topping the mantel. Jason also installed the fireplace wraparound himself. It was created by a company in Dallas. “I still don’t know how he lifted those pieces, because some of them were close to 300 pounds,” said Jennifer. “He installed that and did the marble all around it and on top of it.”
The room is also home to a flocked tree that features the Champagne Wishes collection. This collection is notable for its champagne-colored ornaments and ribbon, vintage mercury glass pieces and pops of baby blue. Pro tip: Jennifer says flocked trees should not be stored in areas without climate control. That’s because the white flocking will yellow in heat.
The kitchen is located off of the living room. “I bake and cook a lot, and I don’t know how to cook for just two people. Every time, I cook for a lot,” said Jennifer. There’s a large Thermador range and ample counter space for a home chef to spread out and whip up a family feast.
Two countertop trees sit on either side of the range. These mini trees have sweets like gingerbread men, ice cream cones and macarons. The focal point of each tree is a large pastel candy cane. They feature the Sweet Treat Kisses and Gingerbread Wishes collection.
The long dining room table seats eight and looks out on the couple’s beautiful land. Thin, silver Nutcrackers stand on either side of a window, along with two gold-and-silver pencil trees. These are personal trees and not part of a collection.
The laundry room was built with the couple’s dogs in mind. It has kennels, a dog wash and a tree just for the fur babies! “We’re real big dog people,” said Jennifer. This tree is also a Mama Noel Designs collection piece called Santa’s Best Friend. It has red and greens, a paper chain and bone-shaped ornaments, including ornaments with the name of each family dog.
The pantry features another collection tree – Gingerbread Spice and Everything Nice. It’s a tall pencil tree with baking and food ornaments. Spice bottles, pomegranates, gingerbread, pieces of pie and cheesecake, and garlands of dried oranges. The reds, oranges and greens on the tree are reminiscent of days spent baking treats with the family.
“I love metallic ornaments and anything vintage or mercury glass. I’m just drawn to that,” said Jennifer. “There are also some glass ornaments on [the tree] that look like little recipe cards.”
Three more collections are featured on the upper floor of the home. These are the Nutcrackers on Parade, Peppermint Dreams (page 33) and Hollywood Glam lines (page 34).
Nutcrackers on Parade stands near the top of the stairs. It is reds, greens and golds on a flocked tree, and nutcrackers of all different shapes, sizes and types. Red poinsettias and nutcracker ribbons are tucked into the tree. Jennifer says there is a folklore surrounding the nutcracker. It says nutcrackers are gifted to loved ones to protect the home and bring good luck to the family.
The Peppermint Dreams tree (opposite) is in the master bedroom. This is another flocked tree topped with a red star. It has both jumbo and smaller peppermint ornaments, red poinsettias, cookie sheet ornaments, a red gingham paper chain and pops of baby blue.
And finally, two trees sit on the counters in the master bath. These are part of the Hollywood Dreams collection. “I wanted something more whimsical and glamorous in there,” said Jennifer. The focal point of each of these trees is an elegant swan. The trees are metallic pink, silver, white feathers and different types of crystals.
She says she starts each tree design with a focal point such as a painting or a jumbo ornament that she places into the belly of a tree. “Most of my trees have something big nestled in the center. If you get the right piece in the middle and then build off of that, it will all work,” she said. “It gives you a focal point, and everything else is an accent to it.”
Decorating for Christmas and helping clients create their dream tree make Jennifer happy. “Your tree is your tree. Do what makes you happy.”
Traditionally Inviting: Your welcome to fun starts at the front door. Nutcrackers guard the entrance while festoons of lights and hanging ornaments let you know Christmas is here.
On the cover: Designer Jennifer Maxwell-Lebleu frames the view with dramatic and glamorous pencil trees and goes for the gold in accents and ornaments.
Champagne Wishes is the original Mama Noel luxurious décor theme. This theme exudes timeless class and luxury to enhance your home, featuring large champagne-colored ornaments and vintage mercury glass pieces accented with breathtaking ribbons of champagne and baby blue.
Peppermint Dreams: Let this dreamy tree remind you of sweet memories of childhood. From shiny beaded garland to sugar-iced peppermint, this vision of sweetness will dance in your head.
Sweet Treat Kisses and Gingerbread Wishes: A favorite holiday tradition inspires this collection. Each year in early December, Jennifer and her daughters have a weekend-long baking event. Lots of sugar, gingerbread, chocolate, vanilla and different fruits are all stacked up and waiting to be part of something delectable. After wrapping the treats up in a beautiful tin or box, they gift these sweets to teachers, neighbors and friends.
Hollywood Glam: This tree is inspired by old Hollywood and glamour – Marilyn Monroe, diamonds and all things glitzy. This timeless tree is a combination of sparkling crystal, glitter, feathers and luxurious pieces, including a few regal swans.