Dixie Grant opens her home to create community and do good deeds

doland@idahostatesman.comNovember 23, 2013 

  • Tips from the professionals

    Sandie Maggio and Beth Bindner go crazy at Dixie Grant’s home this time of year. It takes about a week, from draping the first lights to topping off the tree.

    Tips for overall decor

    DECIDE ON A THEME — Maggio and Bindner work with a “Fall Into Christmas” theme for Grant’s home; that way it doesn’t have to be traditional Christmas. For example, there are no candy canes in Grant’s house (except ones you eat). They start with a base of gold, chocolate and black and then add holiday elements. “You can swap out lights, and pumpkins and things that look holiday, but you have your basic idea established already,” Bindner says.

    TRY DIFFERENT COLORS, Maggio suggests. They like to use lime, just a touch of red and tons of glitter. They’re also fond of animal prints. Grant’s tree holds leopard and zebra-patterned ornaments. Look for things with texture.

    USE WHITE LIGHTS. Maggio and Bindner think LED lights feel “cold,” and that colored lights compete with the decorations. They use white lights and high-quality commercial razor lights that can stand on their own.

    ALWAYS BUY GOOD-QUALITY, DURABLE DECORATIONS, especially if they are going outside. They must be able to stand up to the elements.

    TAKE SCALE INTO ACCOUNT — how big or small you want something — Bindner suggests. It’s always better to overdo than to skimp, Maggio says.

    LAYER YOUR DECORATIONS AND CREATE SCENES. “We might use a piece of art, three candles and a garland that’s lit and another little piece of interest. You don’t just plop something down and call it a day,” Maggio says.

    Tips for a great tree

    Maggio and Bindner like to use artificial trees because they are less messy. “We could never light a real tree as well as the silk trees are lit,” Bindner says.

    If you’re not using an artificial tree that’s already lit, START WITH THE LIGHTS. Put the tree up and let it rest for a few hours so the branches settle.Try going in and out of the tree, rather than just going around the outside of the branches.

    One idea is to BUY A PLAIN GARLAND AND DECORATE IT to match your theme, if you’re using one. For example, you can glue on plastic fruit or golf figures. Then use the garland to accent the tree.

    MIX UP YOUR ORNAMENT STYLES. Use larger and smaller to add variety. Also, mix in some glittery, glass and wooden ornaments.

    YOUR PACKAGES also can add to the look of your tree. Try coordinating your paper and ribbons for a polished, finished look.

  • To contact Sandie & Beth

    Villa Lifestyles, 228 E. Plaza St., Eagle. The stores features collegiate apparel for the female fan. 938-6062. Villa-Lifestyles.com.

Approach Dixie Grant’s home and you know you’re someplace special. The entryway sparkles under a large branchelier (a chandelier made of branches) glowing with lights and dripping with silvery shimmer.

Inside, you find garlands, ornaments, lights, candles, silk arrangements, a charming array of penguins, an incredible view, glitter and more glitter that fills its rooms with festive holiday magic. But the magic comes not only from the spectacular decorations created by designers Sandie Maggio and Beth Bindner of Villa Lifestyles in Eagle. In Grant’s home, decking the halls creates the perfect backdrop for a partnership that lets these three women use bells, baubles and boughs of holly as a way to help others.

Grant regularly invites community groups and individuals who need a spectacular venue for a good cause into her home. Whether it’s a fundraiser for the Northwest Children’s Home Syringa House in Nampa, a recognition reception for the Ada County sheriff’s “Heroes Among Heroes” program, or a wedding for a couple who can’t afford a hall, all she asks in return is that people pay it forward.

“It’s for whatever touches my heart. Every event is either a fundraiser, or it’s something to inspire people to give back to the community,” Grant says.

Grant, a retired Hewlett-Packard program coordinator and Realtor, first enlisted Maggio and Bindner to decorate her home for a Republican Party fundraiser in 2007, shortly after she purchased the home.

The three women clicked and found the power to use their talents to help others.

(At the time, this designing duo’s business was focused on interior style as Villa Decor and Design. In the past year, they changed their focus to collegiate feminine fashion, carrying licenses for BSU, U of I, other sports teams, and sororities and fraternities.)

Grant’s house now ends up in live auctions for groups such as the Boise State University Foundation and Boise Philharmonic, and she invites organizations she supports to use it as a venue. She schedules the events around the Bronco football game schedule. This Caldwell native is a BSU grad and avid fan. Since they started in 2007, Grant estimates they’ve helped different nonprofits collectively raise about $250,000.

TEAM EFFORT

“I could never do this on my own,” Grant says. “What goes on in this house is such a community effort.”

They co-host a popular event they call the Cookies and Martinis Party, which Bindner and Maggio started as a much smaller affair. Since holding it at Grant’s home, it has grown each year. Now, about 200 women each bring three dozen cookies, have a martini and compete for awards. When attending, they also make a financial donation to a good cause and learn about it by meeting and hearing from those the group benefits, such as Camp Rainbow Gold.

What makes the event work, Bindner says, is that it’s not only about raising money. It’s about showing people that they can contribute.

“It’s about networking and supporting each other in the business and social world,” Bindner says. “Yes, we want to give back, and this is the way we’re going to do it — all together.”

OPENING DOORS

Grant bought the 8,000-square-foot house in 2007, thinking her ailing mother and caregivers would move in. When that didn’t happen, she did some soul searching at a time when the struggles of Hurricane Katrina victims still sparked deep emotions in her.

“I didn’t know exactly how I was going to give back,” Grant says. “I clearly did not need a house this big and I almost couldn’t go through with the transaction because I knew there are all these people who didn’t even have a cardboard box. How can I possibly justify this?”

That’s when she knew how best to use her real estate.

“So now this is what I do,” Grant says.

Grant is an inspiration, Maggio says.

“We’re so connected to her,” Maggio says. “We take pride in not only who she is, but in what we can help her accomplish in the community.”

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