Bay Area woman 'honored' to help with White House decorations

For Karla Dettlaff, decorating for Christmas is what makes the holidays the most wonderful time of the year.

“It’s one of my favorite seasons, if not my number one,” Dettlaff said.

But it’s not just her house she’s gracing with her holiday touch. The architect and interior designer was part of a small group of volunteers chosen to decorate the White House. 

“It was a very, very amazing experience. It was an honor. I never expected I was going to be one of the persons chosen from 7,000 people,” she said.

Dettlaff spent three days at the White House helping to decorate 55 trees. She says they were meticulous with the details. 

“Branch by branch, you have to put the wire around, and you’re not allowed to see the cord, you have to hide them,” she said.

She says seeing the warehouse where the ornaments are kept was like stepping into a time machine.

“You can see generation through generation of the presidents who have been in the White House, the decorations from the years before.”

Dettlaff’s team was in charge of hanging ones from the 1970s.

“We had to really open all of them and we dust, but we have to clean around them and make them beautiful for this year,” Dettlaff said. “Making little ribbons, little knots, put a little bit of glue on, and tie them.”

And she found a little touch of the Sunshine State in one of the parlor rooms. 

“When you go to the Blue Room, all of the blue ribbons have the states, so that’s why when we were taking the pictures. Everybody has a picture of the Georgia, Florida, so it’s really nice, I never would have expected that!”


For the Colombian woman who came to the U.S. 14 years ago, she says an opportunity like this isn’t one she would have expected either.

“It’s truly the American dream,” she added.