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HowValley Experts Blend Traditions and Modern Touches to Create a Holidays to Remember

By Nora Burba Trulsson | November 15, 2019 | Lifestyle

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and, in two stylish Valley households, it’s the season to pull out all the stops when it comes to holiday decorating and entertaining.


Family Tie
Amy Cohn has a high social profile in the Valley. She’s on the Women’s Board of Barrow Neurological Foundation and the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation. Additionally, Cohn is the annual fund national chair for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and, as a former board member of Phoenix Art Museum, she chaired the high-profile Independent Woman Luncheon.

When it comes to holidays like Hanukkah, Cohn keeps it all about the people closest to her. With her husband, Andrew, she gathers their two young-adult children and close friends for traditional treats like homemade potato latkes, jelly doughnuts, mandel bread and challah, along with healthy vegetable-based options. A full bar also keeps things festive.

For decor, Cohn—who has a professional background in interior design—likes to mix things up. “I always set the table with white linens,” she says, “which are a great backdrop for different colors of tableware. My children have collected dreidels over the years, which, along with the menorah, are the centerpieces and bring back memories. I also do my own flowers for the table that I intersperse with more candles.”

Along with a casual dress code and soothing background music, the holiday is a relaxing event. “I know it’s a fun evening when people linger on the couch,” Cohn says. “That’s a measure of success.”


Tall Tales
Larry Lake and his husband, Miguel Madera, have always done a fresh Christmas tree. But when they moved into a penthouse overlooking Tempe Town Lake four years ago, the great room’s double-height volume inspired them to go big—decorating a 17-foot-tall Christmas tree.

Lake, an interior designer, and Madera, who serves as the firm’s purchasing and installation director, have the tree installation down to a science. Working with Tim Mitchell’s Christmas Trees, the couple has the tree delivered on a flatbed truck. “Tempe Crane shows up too,” Lake explains, “and hoists it to our fourth-floor balcony. It gets pushed in, set on a big base—all in 30 minutes.”

Vertigo is not an option for the couple, as it takes scaling a tall ladder to drape the tree with white and colored lights, plus overscale ornaments that reflect the height of the tree. Ornaments vary, but, this year, it’s a simple color scheme of white, silver, green and blue to echo the modern interior of the penthouse.

The tree graces in a corner with floor-to-ceiling windows, set back enough from the glass for their two Dalmatians to wiggle past. Illuminated at night, it’s visible from the Loop 202 and even from flights landing at the airport. “We’ve become a tradition in the neighborhood,” says Lake. “We always see people stopping on the street below to take pictures.”

Photography by: Carl Schultz