Holiday House Tour: Tailor-Made Holiday
Wooden initials representing family members' names mix with handmade ornaments on the tree in the home shared by Tessa and Jim Foley and their two sons. The tree shows Tessa's holiday style: She tailors decor and traditions to reflect the family's love of homespun adornments and antique collections.The tree wears a colorful mix of ornaments accumulated over the years. "It's like a little family history," Tessa says. "I've been tempted to do more of a designed, color-coordinated tree, but that doesn't fit us."Tessa places the tree in a giant basket because "it looks rustic and a little unexpected." A flat-bottom stand inside supports the tree; a hole in back allows watering.
Seasonal pillows and an elegant garland add cheer to the foyer. Tessa loves bringing old-fashioned Christmas sentiment to their Colonial-style home in Mariemont, Ohio, where the village itself-modeled after an English garden neighborhood of the 1920s-becomes even more picture-perfect around holiday time. Against a backdrop of shops and restaurants in Tudor-style buildings, horse-drawn carriages clip-clop down down luminaria-lined streets and residents sing carols prior ro the annual Christmas tree lighting at the Old Town Square. "It has that quintessential, quaint small-town feel," Tessa says.
Decked with simplicity
Classic garland and arrangements of tulips, paperwhites and hypericum berries keep the attention on antique furnishings and art in the living room. "Having something old in a room makes it feel personal to me," Tessa says.
A traditional Christmas color palette blends with timeless English country floral and check patterns on pillows, accent furniture and draperies.
For lasting greenery in the dining room (and throughout the house), the Foleys start with a base of artificial greens. They weave in fresh clippings rescued from a tree lot to give the illusion that it's all real.
Tessa tracked down the same Villeroy and Boch china pattern that her mother has always used. It reminds Tessa of childhood celebrations, making her holiday dinners more special.
Tessa combines her passion for antiques with her son Andrew's love of nutcrackers. Each year, they scour stores for one to add to the collection.
Merry and meaningful
Framed silhouettes of the boys are personalized art in the dining room, where a mix of antique and reproduction furniture fits the English country scheme.
Bake and display
The recently remodeled kitchen smells like a bakery most afternoons as Tessa and her sons make holiday favorites: sugar cookies, biscotti and a showcase gingerbread house. For another display on the island, they wedge gingerbread cookies in mounds of sugar on small cake stands topped with cloches.
Food gift fashion
Cookies and cinnamon rolls look festive packaged in Kraft boxes topped with ribbons and tags printed in fonts that resemble handwriting.
Tessa uses the narrow built-in shelf below the kitchen window for seasonal displays. A tiny boxwood tree in a bowl fits her fresh and simple holiday scheme.
Shelves with character
Favorite ironstone and blue-and-white transferware bring character to kitchen shelves and work as easy-to-grab serving pieces.
Cards on display
Instead of tossing cards in a box, Tessa uses mini clothespins to clip them to a garland framing the kitchen doorway. "I love seeing them displayed," she says.
Nook for holiday tasks
Carve out a comfy nook for holiday must-dos, like writing cards and gift wrapping. A parsons chair paired with a salvaged table suits a playroom corner.
Holiday-theme kids' art makes each of the boys' bedrooms festive and fun.
A few outdoor decorations, such as fir trees in twin urns, a swag highlighted with copper bells and wreaths on windows, are all that's needed for a seasonal welcome.