Meet the Buyer of the St. Nicholas Originals

Buyer of our St. Nicolas Portrait, Adrienne

For the past eleven years, we’ve commissioned French artist, Fabric de Villeneuve, to create a St. Nicholas canvas especially for us. Each year, he portrays the beloved St. Nick in a different scene, often with a tongue-in-cheek twist that reflects our unique style, such as leopard print trim on his suit. And every year, the same customer has bought the original painting. When this little fact came to our attention, we were so intrigued that we just had to talk to her.

Lucky for us, Adrienne McCoy, of Lake Forest, Illinois, obliged our curiosity and talked to us about her love of Christmas — and just what exactly she’s doing with all of those St. Nicholas paintings, anyway.

We’re guessing you’re a big fan of Christmas?

Absolutely! It’s my favorite holiday, and I go all out to decorate. This year I had 24 people decorating my house for 6 hours on a Saturday. I have over 40 Christmas trees in my house and they’re all decorated. I always say that you can’t swing a cat anywhere in the house and not hit a Christmas tree.

Adrienne's christmas decorations

Adrienne's christmas decorations

Wow! That is a lot of Christmas trees. Do you have one in every room?

Yes, including every bathroom. There are multiple trees in some rooms. We do have one main Christmas tree in the living room that’s over 12 feet. It’s the largest tree. Believe it or not, I don’t have to turn the heat on during the holidays, because there is so much heat being generated by the tree lights.

Christmas tree in the bathroom

You are certainly doing your part to spread Christmas cheer.

When people come to the door, their jaws drop. I have more decorations than the stores do. I try to keep it tasteful, but it’s pretty over the top. And I’ll be the first to admit it – and I don’t care. I love Christmas!

Living room decorated for Christmas

As long as it makes you happy! So let’s talk about those St. Nicholas originals.

I think I have 11, all of the originals that have been released. I also own a copy of each one. Every year, I buy one print and the original.

Ballard Designs St. Nicolas portrait from 2013

Do you have a strategy for decorating with your art? Do you get them all out each year?

I do! Right after Halloween I take down all of my art — I have a pretty large art collection — and I make room for my Christmas art collection. I have one gallery wall down a long hallway, and the others are spread out around the house in each room. Although they all look different and are even different sizes and orientation, they all share a similar quality. They look so nice together.

St. Nicolas portrait over the mantel

Do you have any favorites?

I do have a couple of Santas that are my favorites. And every year when I take them out, I say, “Oh! There it is!” I don’t know the names of them, but there’s one with a leopard bow in the painting with Ballard’s Christmas stocking hangers. I had the items shown in the painting, so one year I hung the painting over my fireplace, and I decorated it so it actually looked like the picture in the painting. My other favorite is the Santa dressed in white. I have him hanging over a red half-moon shaped table. And everything that goes on that table is white or cream and surrounded by a forest of small decorative trees on the table. It’s really, really pretty.

Santa portrait from Ballard Designs

Santa dressed in all white from Ballard Designs

It sounds like many of the St. Nicholas paintings are the centerpiece of your vignettes?

I decorate around all of the paintings, because I am just crazy about them. And I’ve got beautiful frames for all of them – big, heavy carved gold frames. They look like they’ve come out of some expensive French gallery! And, actually, it’s become a game we play every year to figure out which is the original and which is the copy. They do a great job on the prints, and it really is hard to tell the difference, especially since they’re all in nice frames. They all look like the originals.

Santa portrait from Ballard Designs

Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone. They’ll never know the difference. We love that you are such a big fan of our St. Nicholas paintings.

I thought it was my own secret guilty pleasure. But this year I kept checking online, and I thought maybe I missed the painting and someone else bought it, when I got a phone call from Ballard Designs asking if I wanted to buy the painting. I was so shocked that they even had any idea that I was collecting them all these years! It was very, very nice.

We have one last question: Why do you love these paintings?

I just love this artist! I love the quality of the art and the actual techniques he uses. I love his take on Santa, too. This Santa represents to me the Santa of my childhood. He’s happy, but not crazy happy. He’s serene. All of the pictures have a sense of peace about them, and I really, really like that.

Browse more holiday decorating ideas on our Holiday Pinterest Board.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply

    Debbie Egan

    November 30, 2020

    I was disappointed there was no St. Nicholas this year. I bought three of last years and gave them to my daughters who started having their own children. Santa and the reindeer last year was the perfect one. My sister bought the one for her and me with Santa and the red cardinal (2016). My dad passed away in September that year and now every year when I hang it up for Christmas, I feel he is with me. I am desperately looking for the St Nicholas with the white dog (looks like a bichon) probably 2014 or 2015. I wanted to buy it for my sister because it looks just like her dog Sammy but was too late that year. My sister turned 60 this year and I thought it would be the perfect gift, especially since Sammy is getting up in age. If you know where I could buy one, I appreciate your help, they are real keepers.
    Debbie Egan
    Milford, MA

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      January 8, 2021

      Hi Debbie,
      Thank you for sharing your story. We are so touched to hear the art reminds you of your father. Unfortunately, we no longer make that version so we are unable to recommend a place to purchase it.
      I hope you had a great holiday season,

  2. Reply

    Karin Mingus

    November 21, 2020

    No 2020 Santa print this year? 😢😭A great idea would be to roll out the entire collection again and let people fill in the gaps. I do not have the all white one, but would love to buy one.

  3. Reply

    Vick Reed

    November 13, 2020

    Did I miss the 2020 St Nicholas print ?

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      November 16, 2020

      Vick, we did not have one this year.

  4. Reply

    liz mcauliffe

    April 5, 2020

    i am looking for the santa with the little white dog in his lap,,,,any thoughts where i could find one????

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      January 8, 2021

      Unfortunately we no longer sell that painting.

  5. Reply


    July 10, 2014

    I wish you could bring back the Santa that is standing in side the house and looking through that beautiful window and see his sleigh. that one is my all time favorite and i did not get the chance to buy it! so would you please try to get that one back or paint one all most like that one? and i do have the Santa in all white and it is beautiful these painting is so different and hard to get, but i hope you will always keep them coming! i do love to see what you have next with these beautiful painting of St. Nickolas.