With an exquisite layering of timeless antiques, plush Persian cashmere shawls, and a tabletop tree ornamented with heirloom silver, a homeowner effortlessly revolutionizes her holiday style. Her newfound minimalistic touch brings fresh organic materials to the forefront and creates a liberating sense of openness for entertaining family and friends.
Floral designer Jon Martinez dressed the fireplace mantel, below, with cut branches laced with crystal beads, ivory pillar candles, and a collection of silver celebration cups that document the births of the homeowner’s grandchildren. Intent on downsizing without compromising the fragrance of live evergreens, he used the upper half of a Fraser fir to create a brilliant tabletop tree, opposite, covered in white lights, mercury-glass ornaments, and vintage silver tea strainers and baby cups.
“I could never live in a house that was uncomfortable or overdecorated,” says a savvy Southern homeowner who has patiently shaped and revised her cozy interiors for some forty years and counting. “You can’t truly enjoy a home that looks too perfect. You want people to feel they can take their shoes off, prop their feet on the coffee table, or curl up on the sofa and flip through a magazine.”
With these welcoming images in mind, she set out on what has become a never-ending journey with well-known decorator Jane Hodges, a close friend she fondly refers to as the “grande dame” of interior design.
“Jane has helped me immensely with my palette,” she notes. “She’s an expert with fabrics and wallpapers and has an impeccable eye—even when it comes to my clutter. Just one little change can make all the difference in the world.”
The homeowner’s passionate quest for comfort is accomplished at peak levels in December within every room of her French- and English-inspired home. Colors transition to deeper, warmer hues, and the nostalgic scents of fresh cedar, along with fragrant green foliage and red berries from her backyard, create an inviting and nestled-in ambience. What could be better than candlelight and the sparkle of a radiant Christmas tree to complement sumptuous silks and wools, treasured sterling heirloom pieces, and the rich wood patinas of exceptional antiques? Amidst her alluring winter backdrop of rusty reds, muted turquoise, soft beige, dark navy, and glints of gold, everything comes to life, has a purpose, and is frequently used.
“I see no point in owning things you can’t put out and enjoy often,” she adds. “I use silver every day and have an absolute weakness for fine china. I confess I have multiple sets so I can rotate them regularly.”
Focusing less on grandiose holiday décor and more on the comfort and joy of family and friends, the homeowner continues to edit her personal vision. “I began to dread taking everything down even before I put it up,” she jokes. “Thinking on a smaller scale has revolutionized the way I feel about Christmas.”
Embellished with colorful patterns from wall to wall, the guest bedroom takes an extreme departure from the home’s overall neutral palette. A brightly colored Portuguese needlepoint rug anchors the space and complements a plaid bed skirt and a delicate printed wallpaper accented with a bold striped-swag border. Old perfume bottles and sherry flasks adorn the guest-room vanity table.
Text Jeanne De Lahouder
Photography Marcy Black Simpson
Read more in “Classic Comfort,” in the November/December 2013 issue of Victoria magazine.