These Main Line Interior Designers Perfect Holiday Home Décor

Photos by Ed Williams

When it comes to design and dressing up, more is more for Matthew Wetzel and Don Thomas, of Wayne’s Matthew Thomas Designs.

Matthew Wetzel and Don Thomas never wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for the winter holidays. They deck the halls of their Coventry home in mid-November—then get cracking on planning the party. As the founders of Matthew Thomas Designs, these accomplished hosts are masters of organization. “There’s a lot of talk about decorating too early,” says Wetzel. “But we usually have a party the first Saturday in December, and it takes a lot of time to work out the details. It’s also a lot easier to put up lights outside while it’s warm enough to work without gloves.”

Matthew Thomas Designs
Matthew Wetzel (left), Don Thomas and Gatsby at home in Chester County.
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When decorating, Wetzel and Thomas favor groupings of fresh fruit.

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A Bash Fit for Crystal

For one pre-pandemic party inspired by the prime-time soap opera Dynasty, Wetzel and Thomas assembled a team to serve 80 guests. A pair of greeters welcomed revelers and whisked away their coats. Servers circulated hors d’oeuvres and topped off drinks. “We always ask our caterers, kitchen staff and greeters to arrive an hour or so early. This is when all hands are on deck, lighting candles, prepping food and situating cocktails,” says Wetzel. “We prep everything ahead of time so anyone working the party has a map of how things should flow.”

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Thomas, Wetzel and Gatsby in their living room, freshly decorated for the holidays.

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At every holiday party, the hosts play close attention to any detail that might make a guest feel special, stocking briny olives for dirty-martini aficionados and the appropriate bourbon and cola for Jack and Cokes. For another personal touch, the tree is adorned with black-and-white photographs of attendees at previous parties (printed on card stock). And there’s never a worry about finding a parking spot. “Parking is tight in our development, so we hire a driver to shuttle guests from a nearby lot,” says Thomas. “The shuttle runs all night and is stocked with champagne Jell-O shots with gold flecks.”

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The tree is adorned with black-and-white photographs of guests at previous parties.

In routing guests during the party, Wetzel and Thomas design a layout that minimizes traffic jams and facilitates flow. The guest list is intentionally eclectic, so attendees have an opportunity to make new friends. “For large gatherings, we always separate the food and drinks. Having a smaller home, we use the lower level as the bar and our dining room table for food,” Thomas says. “This way, guests are encouraged to keep moving, which keeps the party from feeling overcrowded and connects guests with new faces.”

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Holiday Finery

As part of their business, the partners design holiday decorations and install elaborate outdoor lighting displays throughout the area. At their own home, they combine a lifelike artificial tree and garlands with groupings of fresh fruit, veggies, and flowers. Unlike ornaments and artificial decorations, produce and plants don’t have to be packed away and stored for the next holiday season. “We love decorating with natural elements like paperwhites, pinecones and poinsettias. It creates an elegant look and does not overcrowd the house,” says Thomas. “One year, we hung more than a 100 roses upside down from the chandelier to give the illusion that they were floating over the table. They dried naturally, and we kept them up until Valentine’s Day.”

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At any party hosted by Wetzel and Thomas, it’s expected that everyone will be decked out in their holiday finest. They abide by the philosophy that most folks have dressy clothes languishing in the back of their closets. “We always note on our party invites that black tie is optional,” Wetzel says. “It’s much more enjoyable when people dress up. It elevates everyone’s spirits and the vibe of the party. The people become part of the ambience.”

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