The Crowning Touch

The Crowning Touch

J. Mark Taylor and team bring holiday cheer to mantels and more in the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion.


The mantel is a prime decorating spot all year long — it’s a sturdy horizontal surface at just about eye level above the natural focal point of the fireplace — but especially as Christmas approaches, when it cries out to be festooned with lights and tinsel and garlands of greenery, with stockings dangling below. And if that’s true for your house, why shouldn’t it apply to the people’s house, as well?

Though fall is just beginning, J. Mark Taylor, a registered interior designer with Traditions Fine Furniture and Design in Edmond, is already preparing to bring the Christmas spirit to the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion for the ninth year. Before they finish, the team of 10 designers, decorators and assistants will unpack, organize, set up and fully deck between nine and 12 large Christmas trees, 30 wreaths on the exterior gates, 10 accent areas, the railing of the immense circular staircase (all three floors of it) … and six mantels throughout the mansion. The labor takes a surprisingly short five days, but the results impress throughout the holidays.

“The inspiration for all we do in the mansion is the history evident throughout each room, and its furnishings and decor,” says Taylor. For example, he mentioned that in the Oklahoma Room, which is centered around the state seal woven into its wool rug, they draw color inspiration from the state flag via blue poinsettias, gold berries and yellow and white ribbon.

“We incorporate those same elements into the mantel décor — created by hand each year with an ever-changing flow of materials,” he continues. “This mantel is completed by the three one-of-a-kind embroidered stockings: One features the state seal; another features the state bird, the Scissortail Flycatcher; and the third features a sprig of mistletoe, the state’s official floral emblem.”

When their work is done, it’s time to show off the results; visitors are welcome during an open house hosted during the first week of December arranged by the Friends of the Mansion, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the residence and its grounds. Weekly tours will follow, with reservations strongly recommended — for more information, call 405.528.2020 or visit, and add some visual sparkle to your Christmas season.