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Cheerful Virginia Home Ready for Christmas

In a Virginia home, a fresh, youthful palette is music to the eyes

Written by Krissa Rossbund
  • Gordon Beall

    Stephanie Stack’s vocal cords are warmed up, and she is ready to let loose with all her favorite Christmas carols. After five years of working in TV news as a producer, her professional life changed when she embarked on a second career in music as a vocalist and songwriter, recording tracks titled “Crazy Love” and “What I’d Rather Do” that reached No. 34 and No. 57, respectively, on the adult contemporary and pop charts. 

    When the holidays draw near, Stephanie aims to hit the high notes of Yuletide decorating, creating a scheme that is a memorable backdrop for the Christmas activities she shares with her husband, Larry, and their sons, Leighton, 12, and Everett, 8, in their Alexandria, Virginia, home.

    “We always dreamed of a home like this, and Christmas allows us to celebrate its grandeur,” Stephanie says of the 1936 Charleston-style house in Alexandria’s Belle Haven enclave. (She and Larry bought the home from Marvin and Margaret Bush, President George H.W. Bush’s son and daughter-in-law.) “I love watching our boys tiptoe down the stairs Christmas morning to see what’s waiting for them.”

    The holiday decoration is established on the expansive front entry veranda, where the railings are draped with evergreen and magnolia swags embellished with gold bows. A simple boxwood wreath adorns the original entry door. The focal point is a massive Christmas tree at the far end of the veranda that reaches nearly to the ceiling and is grounded with a ruffled burlap skirt.          

    Photography: Gordon Beall
    Produced by Eileen A. Deymier

    Interior designer: Kelley Proxmire, Kelley Interior Design, 4519 Wetherill Rd., Bethesda, MD 20816; 301/320-2109,
    Holiday designer: Rachel Gang, Helen Olivia Flowers, 123 N. Pitt St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 703/548-2848,

    Wall paint: custom.
    Hanging lanterns (“Zenke”): McLean Lighting Works,
    Bench (Lutyen’s teak bench); mailbox to left of door (vintage, from London): owner’s collection.  

  • Gordon Beall

    Come on in!

    The interiors of the previous owners already sang a traditional and attractive tune, but Stephanie wanted a remake that reflected the exuberant voices of her young children. Interior designer Kelley Proxmire composed the visual melody. Known for her keen understanding of color—and for using it boldly—Proxmire splashed the Stacks’ interiors with an invigorating and youthful scheme of apple green, pool blue, and sunny yellow that, truth be told, appears to herald spring more than winter. But the light palette embraces the elegance of Christmas, casting extra sparkle on everything shiny, and contrasting dark greenery with brightness.

    Piped in blue, a lettuce-green settee sits against the Manuel Canovas trellis wallpaper. 

    Wallpaper (“Cordoba”/Tilleul #03054-02, by Manuel Canovas); settee fabric (“Maroquin”/Verveine #4300-14, by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout,
    Settee (custom): fabricated by J K Drapery Inc., 703/941-3788.
    Settee trim (“Vine Cord”/Seaport #TA5323.515): Kravet,
    Pillow on settee (“Sant’ Elmo” #2007102-5, colorway discontinued): Lee Jofa,
    Art behind settee: owner’s collection.

  • Gordon Beall

    Living Room

    “The starting point was a diamond-pattern fabric that Stephanie and Larry loved,” Proxmire says of the blue-and-green geometric textile used on a wing chair in the living room. “I pulled the palette from that fabric, and added brown to the mix.”     

    The neutral living room bursts with pops of bright color. A Greek-key border edges apple-green silk drapery panels. A blue-and-white fabric with ribbon embellishment dresses the ottoman and a pair of throw pillows on the white sofa. 

    Wall and trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17); ceiling paint (“Breath of Fresh Air” #806): Benjamin Moore,
    Area rug: Stark,
    Sofa (“Libby” #2339-1): Pearson,
    Sofa fabric (#15059-81 in Snow, discontinued): Duralee,
    Architectural renderings behind sofa (from Marché aux Puces, France): vintage.
    Mirror behind sofa: John Richard,
    Ottoman (“Ellsworth”): The Charles Stewart Co.,
    Ottoman and pillow fabric (“Chirk Embroidery” #2008141-5, colorway discontinued): Lee Jofa,
    Coffee table (“Athena Cocktail Table” #K25201K): Allan Knight,
    Round end table by sofa (antique): owner’s collection.
    Lamp on end table (“Moselle Ceramic Vase Lamp” #TV0028.XX): Vaughan,
    Pair of chairs opposite sofa (“Sterling Club” #CH616): Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman,
    Chair fabric (“Margate Damask Print”/Apple #173851): Schumacher,
    Drapery (“Athens” #124): Taffard,
    Drapery trim (custom Greek key trim): Rogers Custom Trims,
    Drapery fabrication: J K Drapery Inc., 703/941-3788.
    Drapery hardware: Lundy’s,
    Art above mantel (by Lisa Tureson): Broadway Gallery,
    Accessories on shelves by mantel: owner’s collection.
    Wing chair (#6200): Baker,
    Wing-chair fabric, front (“Bella Diamond” #2801-315, by Groundworks, colorway discontinued): Lee Jofa, leejofa .com.
    Wing-chair fabric, back (by Anna French): Thibaut,
    Side table to right of wing chair: The Kellogg Collection,
    Demilune table to right of wing chair (antique); mirror above demilune (antique): owner’s collection.
    Lamps on demilune: antique.

  • Gordon Beall

    Mantel Detail

    A garland adorned in cream and gold accents doesn't compete with the living room's color palette. 

  • Gordon Beall

    Open View

    Designer Kelley Proxmire used a light palette of green, blue, and yellow to create a color flow throughout the open layout. Light blue ceilings create additional visual continuity. The foyer features a new trellis-pattern wallpaper. 

    Wing chair (#6200 ): Baker,
    Wing-chair fabric , front (“Bella Diamond” #2801-315, colorway discontinued): Lee Jofa,
    Wing-chair fabric, back (by Anna French): Thibaut,
    Side table to right of wing chair : The Kellogg Collection,
    Floor lamp behind wing chair (“Candlestick Swing Arm Floor Lamp” #S1012): Circa Lighting,
    Wallpaper in niche bahind wing chair (“Labyrinth”/Celery #8209/4, Britannia Collection): Tyler Hall,
    Blue-and-white porcelain: owner’s collection.

    Foyer behind living room—
    Wallpaper (“Cordoba”/Tilleul #3054-02, by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout,
    Ceiling paint (“Breath of Fresh Air” #806); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Console table (“Taylor Reed Classic Console”): owner’s collection.
    Lamp on console; mirror behind console;  blue-and-white pot holding flowers: antique.
    Area rug (“Eulora”/Isle de France): Stark,
    Hanging lantern (“Crowther”): Dennis & Leen,

  • Gordon Beall

    Crisp Dining Room

    Energized by a vibrant new color, the dining room shows off its glossy white architectural details with a perky green that bathes the striéd walls and covers the dining chairs. During the holidays, the stimulating hue contrasts the darker holiday greenery used in wreaths that hang in the windows as well as the floral arrangements displayed as a swag and in urns on the fireplace mantel. 

    The dining room is formal with a chandelier of crystal horseshoes dangling above the table, but the chairs from Hickory Chair are covered in practical, easy-wipe leather. 

    Wall paint (“Pale Vista” #2029-60); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Wall treatment: Sheppard Bear, Fine Art Finishes,
    Area rug (“Jalousey”/Brown): Stark,
    Dining table (custom): Keith Fritz,
    Chairs (“Louis XVI Square Back Side Chair” #9751-02): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric, front (“Spring Shower”/Lizard #9909/06): Pollack,
    Chair fabric, back (“Valera”/Cocoa #VALERA.6): Kravet,
    Chandelier (“Sorbonne” #CL0028.NI): Vaughan,
    Mirror over mantel (custom): Artisans Art & Frame, 202/333-4093.
    Sconces flanking mantel: owner’s collection.
    Drapery (“Chrysanthemum”/Lemongrass #800224H-717, by Highland Court, discontinued): Duralee,
    Drapery rods: Lundy’s

    White, green and gold plate (vintage Orington Bros., France); white-and-gold plate (Royal Worcester): owner’s collection.  

  • Gordon Beall

    Woodsy Sunroom

    Painted brown to add a bit of drama and to balance the light colors throughout the rest of the house, the sunroom is dressed for the holidays with a mix of textures including a twig moose head that hangs over a Parsons-style table, wreaths that adorn a pair of ceramic lamps, and a large rush basket filled with wrapped gifts.

    A pair of mismatched chairs—one a stately armchair upholstered in tree-patterned linen from Schumacher and the other a wooden wing chair with a brown linen cushion—flank a nailhead-studded table.

    Wall paint (“Wood Grain Brown” #2109-30); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Parsons table (custom): J K Drapery Inc., 703/941-3788.
    Wing chair; high-backed chair (antique): owner’s collection.
    Fabric on high-backed chair (“Temple Garden”/Appletini #173580): Schumacher,
    Lamps on parsons table (“Bamboo Mini-Porcelain Lamp” #L-M/1001BMA, discontinued): Festoni,
    Twig sculpture above table (antique store find); basket under table: owner’s collection.  

  • Gordon Beall

    Woodsy Sunroom

    A custom mirror above the fireplace conceals a television. Owl prints are hung around a circular window.

  • Gordon Beall

    Family Room

    The Christmas tree takes center stage in this welcoming room that sees activity on a daily basis. Evergreen swags adorn all three windows in the room with small wreaths encircling whimsical reindeer heads crafted from brown papier-mâché. A geometric rug from Stark Carpet grounds an assortment of happy patterns that energize the design. 

    Wallcovering (“African Raffia”/White Wash #3404): Phillip Jeffries,
    Ceiling paint (“Breath of Fresh Air” #806, 25 percent): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery (“Kendra Texture”/Cocoa Brown #2298-5): Dogwood Fabrics,
    Area rug (“Pelagia”/Chocolate #304): Stark,
    Paint behind shelves in cabinet (“Citron” #74): Farrow & Ball,
    Built-in bookshelves and window bench: existing.
    Window-seat cushion (“Colorado”/Yellow #1-1205-040, colorway discontinued): JAB Anstoetz,
    Trim (“Capri Lipcord”/Java #63353): Schumacher,
    Black-and-white pillow on window seat (“Ales”/Chocolat #4715-05, by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout,
    Yellow trim (“Double Ruche Fringe”/Gold): Smith & Brighty,
    Yellow-and-white pillow on window seat (“Kabba Kabba”/Yellow #1914): by Martyn Lawrence Bullard,
    Pair of chairs (“Rowley Lounge Chair” #UC3111, Guy Chaddock Collection): Chaddock,
    Chair fabric (“Zen”/Buttercup, by Sunbrella Outdoor, discontinued): Calico Corners,
    Pillow on yellow chair, ground fabric (#32072-10 in Brown, discontinued): Duralee,
    Center detail on pillow (“Bodrum Stripe”/Saffron #1309): Martyn Lawrence Bullard,
    Ottoman (custom): Charles Stewart,
    Ottoman fabric (“Zebra”/Brown #16366-002): Scalamandré,
    Tray on ottoman (large oval tray with handles #ATCBS208B): The Kellogg Collection,
    Sofa (“Bromley” #C230-808): Charles Stewart,
    Sofa fabric (“Sadler Chenille”/Espresso #3444001): Schumacher,
    Square end tables: Salvations,
    Pillows on sofa (“Lyford Pagoda Petit,” by China Seas): Quadrille,
    Trim (“Dolce Marabout”/Chocolate Chip #983-45496-07): Samuel & Sons,
    White sofa table (“Peony Console”
     #7777-10, by Mariette Himes Gomez): Hickory Chair,
    Table lamp (“Round Balustrade Table Lamp in Crystal” #SL3339 with Silk Box Pleated Shade): Circa Lighting,

  • Gordon Beall

    Pretty Powder Room

    The powder room is a delight in blue and white. A skirted vanity chair adds a feminine touch to the space. Overhead, a starburst light fixture from Vaughn is striking against the blue ceiling.

  • Gordon Beall

    Family Memories

    With well-appointed rooms and a holiday decorating scheme that blends with them harmoniously, the Stack house is primed for everything Christmas: reflection, celebrations, and music.      

    “My husband and I are not from Alexandria, but it’s the only home our boys have ever known,” says Stephanie, whose Christmas single “Under the Mistletoe” is due to release this holiday season. “My hope is that they save the special images of Christmases here in their heads, share them with their own families someday, and bring their families back. We plan to live here for a very long time.”

    Constructing gingerbread houses is a holiday treat for Stephanie and her sons.

    Table: Antique Designs through American Eye,
    Slipcovered chair; lantern: owner’s collection.
    Art: by David Oleski,
    Lantern color (“Yorktowne Green” #HC-133
     with antique silver trim): Benjamin Moore,

  • Gordon Beall


    One of the features that drew the Stacks to the 1936 house was the veranda. Adorned with festive greenery and a decorated Christmas tree, it beckons guests indoors for lively holiday gatherings. 

  • Werner Straube