Callhan Soldavini loves Christmas. Although her childhood Christmases were positively celebrated and commemorated, she recalls “They lacked pizzazz; they had no color.” Now, in her own home, located in the Lake Park neighborhood where she resides with husband James, daughter Saqqara, and son Francis (who arrived on June 29), Callhan starts decorating the day after Thanksgiving.
Every room speaks to the annual holiday. As she explains, “I like Christmas to hit you in the face.” She keeps her decorations up well into the New Year to accommodate visitors and family gatherings during the holiday season. “Now,” she admits, “I can have the Christmas I always wanted.”
James and Callhan met in Naples and became high school sweethearts. They moved away for their postsecondary educations, both graduating from Stetson University. They lived and worked in Chicago for a few years and eventually moved back to Naples. James is a certified public accountant with Matthew John Soldavini, P.A., and Callhan is a human rights advocate and staff attorney for Legal Aid Service of Collier County. Prior to having children, the pair lived in an older single-level house upon the same Lake Park property; they remodeled this and made it their home. In 2019, however, they tore down this edifice and commissioned Lotus Construction to build them a new, nearly 3,000-square-foot residence.
Callhan spent her formative years in Chicago and maintains strong ties to the city; she is especially fond of its more traditional homes, especially those in the Lake Forest neighborhood. Both Callhan and James love the design and decor of the RL Restaurant located in the Ralph Lauren store in downtown Chicago, and their now two-story home in Lake Park features a similar aesthetic. The home showcases traditional elements, including dark wood flooring, a venerable staircase and balustrade, and smaller, more intimate rooms, such as the one to the left of the home’s entrance that the Soldavinis call their club room.
James and Callhan state the small, cozy space located on the main level is their favorite room in the home. “It is our sanctuary,” explains Callhan. “In here, we feel like we are in the city.” Indeed, with the shutters and door closed, one could well be in Lake Forest—not Lake Park. It is to this room the couple often retire when they want to relax as adults. They might pour an aperitif—or an after-dinner drink—and sit down to a chat on the blue velvet swivel chairs.
The walls, painted in a classic navy blue (Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy), showcase vintage prints. The ideal dark blue for creating a cozy dining room or library, the color is described on Benjamin Moore’s website as “a reliable go-to any time a little drama is needed.”
Aside from their club room, the couple devoted the entire first floor of their residence to entertaining. An oversize island in the kitchen is surrounded by sophisticated custom cabinetry; the great room hosts a large formal dining table. Christmas decor appears throughout the space. Callhan describes her aunts and her grandmother as “crafty,” so many of the tree’s ornaments and other items were created by hand and have been lovingly preserved.
Callhan even has a prized collection of Christmas elves (gifted to her every year since she was a child) that she entwines within the balusters of the staircase. Every year new ornaments are collected, too. One of Callhan’s favorite Christmas shopping destinations is the Christkindlmarket held annually at Daley Plaza in Chicago. The holiday festival attracts more than a million visitors each year who peruse and purchase products from vendors visiting from around the world.
This will be the third Christmas for the Soldavinis in their new home. No doubt Saqqara and baby Francis will grow up with fond memories and carry on family traditions.
And how does one keep these sparkly and intriguing decorations safe from the curious hands of a toddler? Along with constant supervision, there are regular reminders to just “look and not touch.”