You are here

25 Years of Beautiful Holiday Rooms

Family, friends, and tradition inspired these favorite holiday rooms

Produced by Julianne Hilmes
  • If there’s one thing we know about the holidays, it's that tradition is everything. In every home, there’s a story behind the ornaments on the tree or the stockings hanging from the mantel. There’s a reason the tree goes there and we use that china on the dining room table. Sometimes it’s a tradition years in the making, sometimes it's a new practice that will become a tradition, and sometimes it’s a blend. At Traditional Home, one of our traditions is featuring gorgeous, timeless homes decorated for the season in our holiday issues. Click through to see some of our editors’ favorites from our past 25 years.

    Tags:
  • D. Randolph Foulds

    Farmhouse Holidays

    December 1989

    In the dining area in the back room of this 18th-century New England farmhouse, an old Pennsylvania drop-leaf cherry table opens for a festive holiday meal. The 1785 farmhouse provides the perfect stage for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration.

    Although many of the homeowner’s antiques are American and her house is a New England classic, treasures collected on world travels impart an international flair. A Chinese pewter duck graces the table, a hanging star light from Mexico complements a display of crystal on the sideboard, and a Parisian birdcage provides a home for a display of Scandinavian dolls.

    Written by Dan Weeks
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Design: Anita Hooker, Nan Norseen

    Tags:
  • Jessie Walker

    Festive Red Dining Room

    December 1990

    Chicago architect Stephen Knutson calls on his Norwegian heritage to celebrate Christmas with his family in their circa-1916 apartment on Chicago’s North Shore. Cranberry walls and a collection of Blue Willow china overlook a dining table topped with topiaries handmade by Stephen. The table is always set with linen, silver, flowers, and candles—beautifully reflecting memories of Christmas in Norway. The 1860s ballroom chairs color-match the burled yew table.

    Written by Kathy Kastilhan

    Tags:
  • Barbara Elliott Martin

    Mary Engelbreit’s Home

    December 1991

    At Christmastime, the Webster Groves, Missouri, home of greeting card designer Mary Engelbreit is a world of yuletide enchantment. Stepping into her house—an inviting Dutch colonial—is like stepping into one of her fanciful cards. Every room is stuffed, much like a stocking, with wonderful surprises.

    As colorful and effervescent as a bowl of Christmas cheer, Mary’s living room spreads the season's spirit to all who enter—even bah-humbug types. Furnished with collections, heirlooms, and flea market finds, the room is an amalgam of Mary’s “absolutely favorite” things. Especially loved are the garlands of glittering glass beads that swag the tree; they once belonged to Mary’s grandmother.

    Written by Pamela J. Wilson
    Produced by Marry Anne Thomson with Susan Davidson
    Design: Mary Engelbreit

    Tags:
  • Jenifer Jordan

    Happy Holiday Room

    Holiday 1992

    Sentiment, simplicity, and sophistication distinguish the interiors of this Midwestern home. Casual elegance comes from pairing elegant English antiques, family heirlooms, and travel mementos with earthy terra-cotta tile floors, rough exposed beams, and a marvelous mix of contemporary and traditional artwork.

    The Adams chairs in the living room belonged to the homeowner’s mother. Re-covered in a striped silk, the chairs now pick up hues from the striking painting over the sofa. The painting also prompting the choices of the richly colored kilm rugs and brightly hued sofa pillows. Gaily wrapped gift boxes pepper the casually elegant room. Tile floors and whitewashed walls provide striking counterpoints to the classic furnishings. 

    Written by Pamela J. Wilson
    Regional Editor: Jessie Walker Associates
    Design: Mary Kniebler

    Tags:
  • Barbara Martin

    Festive Entry

    Holiday 1993

    Just inside the front door of this 1923 St. Louis home, an 18th-century French farm table sets the country formal tone. Baskets brimming with poinsettias and pinecones, and garlands affixed with big French ribbon bows bid a classic seasonal welcome.

    Written by Pamela J. Wilson
    Regional Editor: Mary Anne Thomson
    Design: Julie Schnuck

    Tags:
  • Tim Fields

    Simple Holiday Entry

    Holiday 1994

    Rather than hang ornaments on the entry hall tree in her St. Louis home, Glee Stanley created a pretty wintry scene by blanketing each limb with lengths of rolled cotton topped with crystal snow. There are no ornaments on the tree, just tiny, twinkling lights. “This is my favorite tree of the four or five we usually have, probably because it’s so simple,” Glee said. The basket next to the silk-skirted table holds gifts waiting to be delivered to friends.

    Written by Pamela J. Wilson
    Regional Editor: Mary Anne Thomson
    Interior design: Bob Newton

    Tags:
  • Tim Fields

    Mary Douglas Drysdale’s Home

    Holiday 1995

    Interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale delights in readying her Washington, D.C., house for the holidays. Mary changes up her holiday decorations the way she changes up her home: frequently. In the years leading up to this one, she’d been growing her collection of gold vegetable and fruit ornaments. The richly embellished wreath and mantel in Mary’s living room show the "fruits" of her efforts.

    Written by Carol Prisant
    Regional Editor: Eileen Deymier
    Interior design: Mary Douglas Drysdale

    Tags:
  • Gordon Beall

    Serene Holiday Living Room

    Holiday 1996

    At Joe Davis’ country house on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Christmas is a childhood fantasy come to life. Joe bought White Haven, a postcard-perfect rambling farmhouse, in 1991, but he’s “known” the house much longer than that. In fact, he grew up in the area and has had his sights set on the home since childhood.

    Instead of a strictly red-and-green holiday palette, the living room’s scheme is one of nature’s greens and winter whites, interspersed with touches of citrus yellow and lime. The tree is a balsam that Joe and floral designer David Bell festooned with dried fruits and lengths of French ribbon in gold and a luminous green-and-white plaid. The tree, with its dried-fruit ornaments, looks good enough to eat.

    “I love the serenity of sitting in the living room and looking out to the sunset and a sky full of Canada geese,” Joe said. The living room is indeed serene—all natural and neutral in cottons, linens, and sisal.

    Written by Pamela J. Wilson
    Interior design: Joe Davis

    Tags:
  • Gordon Beall

    Red Living Room

    Holiday 1997

    This 1835 home in the heart of Charleston's historic district was designed to capture the sea breezes and the best light, with wide piazzas and a side entrance in the classic Charleston Single House style. Decorator John Ragsdale persuaded the owners to fill the house with color. Just look at that living room!

    At Christmas, the living room walls glow. The rich red plays counterpoint to the greens and whites and reds of the season. Glad tidings in the room include a 9-foot tree festively trimmed with big ball ornaments, wisps of red ribbon and cording, and elegant white tulips placed in water vials.

    Written by Carolyn Anderson
    Regional Editor: Lynn McBride
    Interior Design: John Ragsdale

    Tags:
  • Colleen Duffley

    Holidays in Charleston

    Holiday 1998 

    Darlene Shaw and George Cogar understand that that their circa-1820 Federal-style home in Charleston invites entertaining in a grand, formal manner. On New Year’s Eve, with guests in tow, they rise to the occasion. Instead of confining their black-tie wine-tasting and dinner party to a single room or floor, they fling open the whole house. 

    After dinner, the party heads up to the second-floor drawing room for dessert. Though still formal, with a circa-1805 French crystal chandelier and marble mantel, the room is more casual than its first-floor counterpart. White holiday flowers bring formal balance to the mantel, which is also graced by rustic architectural finds and a reproduction Charleston mirror.

    Written by Candace ord Manroe
    Regional Editor: Lynn McBride
    Interior design: Jo Edwards

    Tags:
  • Eric Roth

    Holidays at Hidden View Farm

    Holiday 1999

    Designer Richard Bradshaw’s Hidden View Farm near Annapolis, Maryland, is set in a natural clearing amid 300-year-old white oaks. Richard raises livestock, grows fruit, vegetables, and flowers, builds habitats for ducks, and hunts game on the 102 acres that surround his sprawling Georgian-style home.

    In the dining room, a breathtaking garden mural on all four walls is always in full bloom. The walls depict actual summer vistas at Hidden View—meandering pathways, verdant meadows, riotous flower beds, and abundant wildlife.

    Holiday dinners are served at a banquet-length English Regency table paired with 18th-century Chippendale chairs. The elaborate Christmas decorations include masses of red poinsettias on the sideboard, red roses on the table, and a fresh evergreen garland with red berries on the mantel. The rug is a Spanish Savonnerie, circa 1910.

    Written by Heather Lobdell
    Regional Editor: Eileen Deymier
    Interior design: Richard Bradshaw

    Tags:
  • Eric Roth

    Christmasy Breakfast Nook

    Holiday 2000

    Christmas celebrations in this 1786 Nantucket home start the weekend after Thanksgiving. Instead of one big tree, the homeowners like to sprinkle the house with small trees of varying sizes. Natural greens in wreaths and swag hang between the kitchen windows.

    The homeowners wanted a window seat or banquette in the kitchen, but the windows were too low. The old bench is a compromise. The green bench, with its red cushions, is festive year-round.

    Written by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Design: Zibby Tozer

    Tags:
  • Jon Jensen

    Colorful Christmas

    Holiday 2001

    Wendy Ulman craves color, but there is one hue she can live without, even during the holidays—red. In her European-inspired stucco home in the hills above Portland, Oregon, bright colors ward off the rain, fog, and damp chill that are part of the bargain when you live in the Pacific Northwest.

    Surprising—and surprisingly lovely—chartreuse fortifies the living room, which offers views of downtown Portland, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Hood. A full tree is loaded with ornaments old and new. Festive white lilies sit on the demilune tables that frame the marble fireplace.

    Written by Heather Lobdell
    Design: Wendy Ulman

    Tags:
  • Jenifer Jordan

    A Faudree Christmas

    Holiday 2002

    Designer Charles Faudree's weekend cabin in the rural woodlands outside Tulsa was the perfect place for a holiday party. At 2,500 square feet, the cabin easily holds 50 people for a party. A room with a vaulted ceiling along the back of the house offered plenty of space for Faudree's traditional 12-foot Christmas tree—a holiday wonder of several hundred antique reproduction Victorian glass ornaments nestled among beaded garlands and twinkling lights.

    While renovating the cabin, Faudree bumped out the back wall 10 feet and installed four floor-to-ceiling plate-glass windows in the blue-and-white “big room,” making the room look as though it’s cantilevered over the waters of Spring Creek. Only a rafters-high Christmas tree could compete with the “big room’s” 18th-century Belgian Verdure tapestry. Nicholas, a cavalier Kin Charles spaniel and the cabin’s top dog, remained unimpressed.

    Written by Kristine Kennedy
    Regional contributor: Nancy Ingram
    Interior design: Charles Faudree

    Tags:
  • Eric Roth

    Swedish Style Christmas

    Holiday 2003

    When she was a child growing up in Sweden, Ingrid Goulston experienced Christmas as pure magic. Now, as an American interior designer, wife, and mom, she transforms her Massachusetts home into a Christmas wonderland. 

    In 1975, the Goulstons moved into this home, a long, narrow mid-19th-century farmhouse with a detached barn built in the seafaring town of Scituate, southeast of Boston. The house underwent a number of small changes through the years but took on a whole new dimension when an informal breezeway between the barn and house was replaced by a two-story addition, including a 20x23 foot family room with a high coffered ceiling.

    The new family room has a ceiling tall enough for the big Christmas tree. Furniture colors were taken from the century-old Heriz rug.

    Written by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Design: Ingrid Goulsten

    Tags:
  • Gordon Beall

    Plantation Christmas

    Holiday 2004

    Edisto Island, South Carolina, once served as a boys' school. Needless to say, the house needed a complete renovation before it was suitable for use as a private residence. That task fell to designer Robert Chestnut.  

    Robert has six children and co-owns the plantation with two other families with children, so low-maintenance, kid-friendly design was crucial. The living room furnishings embody the casual style of Brookland: a big, corduroy-covered sofa braced by antique wing chairs and an antique table. The reproduction mirror matches the one in the adjacent dining room.

    Christmas at Brookland is an especially meaningful time. “Here, you are forced to ‘do nothing’—just experience the joys of eating a fine meal and being together,” Robert said. “I want my children around me on Christmas. It’s a fine time for us all to be together.”

    Written by Eliot Nusbaum
    Produced by Lynn McBride
    Interior design: Robert Chestnut

    Tags:
  • Michael Luppino

    Christmas at the Cabin

    Holiday 2005

    Cose your eyes and picture the Christmas ideal: rolling, snow-covered hills, frosted trees, a frozen lake, and a shingle home with smoke curling up from the stone chimney. That describes to a T this Adirondack-style home that brings delight to a Chicago-area family.

    Anchoring the living room is a large-scale Wisconsin river stone fireplace with a mantel decked in holiday greenery. To the left is an armoire with a television. To the right, a natural tree strung with white lights and decorated with pinecones and ornaments. Designer Janie Petkus furnished the room with rugged, low-maintenance furniture and fabrics. The moose head is an antique inherited from a previous owner of the property, and the horn chair is Victorian.

    Written by Eliot Nusbaum
    Produced by Hilary Rose
    Design: Janie Petkus

    Tags:
  • Gordon Beall

    Maryland Merriment

    Holiday 2006

    Celebrating Christmas with family is one of the most enjoyable gigs that Maxine and Jim Farrell have going at their vacation retreat—a 1906 plantation house called Canterbury Manor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The home has all the right ingredients: plenty of space indoors to accommodate five children and 10 grandchildren, and a generous plot of land to let those gatherings spread out.

    In the library, green is the primary color. Bright red decorations—including Maxine’s collection of whimsical dragonflies and butterflies alighting on the mantel swag and red-plaid ribbons—offer a jolly contrast to the restrained elegance of the sage-green wood paneling. Fanciful Father Christmas figures flank the hearth.

    See the rest of this home.

    Written by Krissa Rossbund
    Produced by Eileen A. Deymier
    Interior design: Mary Southworth and Kevin Boksha 
    Floral design: Jozef Cross

    Tags:
  • Tria Giovan

    Serene Living Room

    Holiday 2007

    Holiday tradition is served up with polish in this Indianapolis-area home. An expert in custom-home design and planning, interior designer Suzanne Kasler worked with the family to create a cozy home that also allowed easy movement between rooms.

    At Christmastime, the evergreen-bedecked home is ready to welcome a host of family and friends. The living room is serene and elegant, with cream, gold, and hints of blush pink, a palette against which holiday decor sparkles.

    Click here to see the rest of this home.

    Written by Amy Elbert
    Produced by Betsy Harris
    Interior design: Suzanne Kasler 
    Architect: Kenneth A. Rich

    Tags:
  • Bruce Buck

    Happy Holiday Dining Room

    Holiday 2008

    The owners of this 1910 Colonial Revival house in Milton, Massachusetts, called on Boston designer Gerald Pomeroy to focus on aesthetic trimmings, since the skeleton of their house was already packed with interesting architectural details and was in great shape. Pomeroy saturated the rooms with explosions of vibrant color that are intensified at Christmastime by fragrant greenery, sparkling ornaments, and bundles of fresh flowers.

    The dining room's architectural envelope—original wainscoting, crown moldings, fireplace surround, and crystal chandelier—guided the choice of vivid color for the walls. The chinoiserie silk-on-paper in bright coral with lavender accents is positioned against moldings painted a warm beige. Shiny gold raw silk descends in simple gathered panels at the windows.

    The family’s biggest Christmas tree greets guests in the dining room, where it is wrapped in tiny white lights and studded with small clusters of coral glass balls, larger gold balls, and fresh coral and gold Dendrobium orchids.

    See the rest of this home.

    Written by Krissa Rossbund
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Interior design: Gerald Pomeroy

    Tags:
  • Michael Partenio

    A Canine Christmas in Connecticut

    Holiday 2009

    This new home on a 5-acre-plus lot in Greenwich, Connecticut, was designed to evoke a Normandy farmhouse feel. Its high-pitched rooflines, arched windows, dry-stack stone landscaping, and stucco exterior, mimicking the ancient plaster-over-stone technique used in rural France, reflects the European sensibilities of its owners and of architect Jack Arnold, whom they hired to bring them to life.

    Tall windows with arched transoms and multiple French doors look to back and front courtyards, another European influence. Two of the family’s three golden retrievers sit by French doors just outside the library. The narrow holiday trees are set in rustic pots from Thailand.

    See more of this home. 

    Written by Amy Elbert
    Produced by Stacy Kunstel
    Interior design: Cindy Rinfret 
    Architect: Jack Arnold

    Tags:
  • Werner Straube

    Houstonian Holidays 

    Holiday 2010

    This Houston family’s plantation-style house was influenced by the architecture of the late A. Hays Town—Southern, with a distinctive Creole flavor. Avid recyclers, the owners embraced the salvage concept: The bricks are antique, and the living room’s limestone mantel is 18th-century French. The eco-friendly house even won the Houston ASID’s Best Green Design for 2009.

    The homeowner is a passionate pianist in his free time, and his Steinway dictated the configuration of the living room. The joy of music and merrymaking appear in the holiday centerpiece on the mantel—antique brass and copper coach horns that were traditionally played from a carriage to signal its arrival. Feathers from the flock of peacocks living on the family compound ornament the living room’s 20-foot-tall noble fir.

    See the rest of this home.

    Written by Candace Ord Manroe
    Produced by Susan Fox
    Interior design: Sandra Lucas

    Tags:
  • John Bessler

    Sophisticated Christmas

    November+December 2011

    The sophisticated neutral dressings of this Michigan home translate into high-impact style and easily embrace the greenery and extra sparkle of Christmas decorations.

    Towering living-room windows provide a stunning backdrop for a tall tree decorated with mercury-glass balls and crystal branches. The room’s fabrics are equally elegant but also practical. To determine if they could withstand family wear and tear, the designer spilled red wine on them to see if they would be easy to clean. They passed the test.

    See the rest of this home.

    Written by Krissa Rossbund
    Produced by Khristi S. Zimmeth
    Interior design: Lucy Earl 
    Architect: Alexander Bogaerts

    Tags:
  • Werner Straube

    Light and Lovely Christmas

    November+December 2012

    After 20 years in their dark and dated 1930s Pennsylvania-style fieldstone farmhouse, these Virginia homeowners called upon designer Frank Babb Randolph and architect Christian Zapatka to transform it into a classic, light-filled center-hall Colonial. The designer’s signature white now creates a snowy, pristine backdrop for the natural, low-key holiday decorating that ensures a white Christmas every year.

    The family’s big white fir, where they gather Christmas morning to exchange gifts, stands at the end of the center hall and is decorated simply with glass balls. “It’s a beautiful vision for everyone to see when they enter the front door,” homeowner Judy Jeffress said.

    See the rest of this home

    Written by Candace Ord Manroe
    Produced by Susan Stiles Dowell
    Interior design: Frank Babb Randolph 
    Architect: Christian Zapatka

    Tags:
  • Eric Roth

    Lovely Holiday Living Room

    November+December 2013

    Homeowner and designer Tanya Capello is not a fan of red at Christmas. “My decorations tend more toward green, white, and silver, with natural elements that include eucalyptus, cedar, and other greens mixed throughout our home,” she said. Her New England home sings Christmas with a quietly melodious palette. Tanya created a soft neutral base for her home, ideal for the season's signature interplay of sights, sounds, and aromas

    The Christmas tree flickers in creams and golds that complement brocade drapery panels at the windows. Quilted velvet stockings hang on the limestone fireplace mantel. Mismatched sofas wearing beige upholstery and a rush-seat armchair provide comfy seating around the fireplace.

    See the rest of this home.

    Written by Krissa Rossbund
    Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
    Interior design: Tanya Capello

    Tags: