A weekend home, decked out for the holidays in traditional style
Kimberly and Marc Blair insist that their interior designer, Laura Langworthy, celebrate Christmas with them at their Connecticut home. This crossover relationship, which runs the gamut from professional and client reviewing swatches to interacting as close companions, is only natural. After all, it’s a designer’s job to clearly understand the nuances of a family—how they live, how they entertain, and how they want their home to represent them—almost as if the designer herself was part of the family. The truth is, Langworthy is family—she’s Kimberly’s mother. And to make the spot where the extended family would spend years of gatherings blissful and inviting, she personalized the house with soft details and loads of Christmas charm.
“This particular project was dear to me because it was for my daughter,” Langworthy smiles. “She was the perfect client—a clear communicator and a great collaborator with a willingness to trust her designer mom.”
Relinquishing the design reins to family is something Kimberly and Marc are quite familiar with. Marc’s mother is a designer, too, and created the more formal visual statement for the couple’s apartment in Manhattan. But the Blairs always knew they wanted a second home that boasted a low-key culture that would provide contrast to the frenzy of weekday activity they encounter in New York with their children, Sammy and Charlotte. Washington Depot, Connecticut proved accessible and idyllic with its population of farms and Colonial houses. And an infrastructure of restaurants, shops, and family activities was a giant plus for weekend dwellers. This New England setting deserved a New England designer, so when the Blairs moved into the house in 2005, they turned to Massachusetts-based Langworthy.
With spacious rooms, the 1940s house was intended for gatherings from the get-go, and a 2003 great room addition by the architect who lived there at the time supplied an even more ideal setting for entertaining. Marc and Kimberly honor that tradition of hospitality, especially during the Christmas season when parties both intimate and grand fill the structure with spirited and vivacious sound. Add cheerful holiday vignettes that Langworthy erects in every room—no space is too humble or insignificant to sparkle with holiday magic—and the home is one big festive fantasy.
“Getting this house ready for the holidays is a snap when my mother begins fashioning her decorations that feature all the sentimental objects we’ve collected and the new pieces we add each year from local shops and galleries,” explains Kimberly.
On the front porch, tall topiary trees and benches upholstered in a jolly red fabric welcome visitors with a simple snapshot of the abundant decorations to be found inside. The second receiving space, the entry hall, includes formal elements within its beadboard perimeters: An antique Oriental rug brings warmth to the hardwood floor, while beige-striped silk covers ogee-arched lambrequins at the tops of the windows. “I wanted there to be drama on the windows without covering them completely,” says Langworthy. She adds that since the entry hall looks directly into the living room, she chose a window fabric that could easily transfer to the living room’s design, albeit in a variant style.
The living room itself stands ready for Santa, with the Christmas tree situated next to the fieldstone fireplace. Langworthy enjoys decorating themed Christmas trees, but she believes a designer’s work should never be obvious. The Blairs’ main Christmas tree, for example, features all gold and white ornaments but avoids staginess by using family decorations.
Two sofas—an upholstered beige piece placed in front of the fireplace and a green chenille sofa that sits in the bay—imbue the room with a sense of coziness without sacrificing polish. An armchair in leather and a pair that are paisley-upholstered complete the seating arrangement. A reproduction Soumak rug, rendered in Christmas red, ties the elements together.
Kimberly’s favorite space in the house is the great room addition. A stage for the holiday meals, the spacious room’s dining area is positioned across from the kitchen and contains a 10-foot-long trestle table surrounded by black-painted Windsor chairs. Its blue-and-white color scheme is happily complemented by the Christmas greens she freely uses throughout the season.
Her appreciation for this room, she explains, stems from its generous proportions that allow the Blair family and their friends to all be together and never feel crowded. “Someone can be reading, others playing games, eating, or entertaining guests,” she adds. “There is room for it all.”
The master bedroom, also part of the 2003 addition, delivers a refined palette of ivory and wood tones. A tiger maple pencil post bed is the room’s centerpiece, flanked by wreaths on the windows and its own small Christmas tree.
Whether it’s during the holidays or in less decorated times of the year, the Blairs are happy to live part-time in a home that is stamped with talent from one of their own family members. “This house has become the gathering place for various holiday celebrations, not only for my own family, but for my parents and my brothers, too,” says Kimberly. “It has been wonderful for my mom to pass the hostess torch to me so that I can help create memories for us all.”
Photography: John Bessler
Produced by Estelle Bond Guralnick
Interior designer: Laura Langworthy, Laura Langworthy Interiors, 106 Stewart St., West Newbury, MA 01985; 978/363-8876, llinteriors.com .
Stylist: Liz Kay, 860/805-3931.
In the entry, a folk art painting by artist Kevin Paulsen borrows from the style of early-19th-century itinerant artists.
Beribboned garlands of magnolia, boxwood, and fir wrap the graceful banisters. The faux-zebra covered fauteuil is from Oly.
Kimberly and Marc Blair with their children, Sammy, 8, and Charlotte, 6.
Accessed from the entry hall, a casual powder room incorporates touches of the home’s rustic history with its modern, energetic family life. The vanity table and basin sink are original to the home; simple white beadboard wainscoting lends a touch of farmhouse charm.
See details on the following slide.
Powder Room Details
A couture boot from Langworthy’s closet serves as the vessel for flowers next to the sink.
Designer Laura Langworthy never misses an opportunity to celebrate the season. Greeting guests, a reindeer pulls back the French door to offer an unobstructed view of the glorious tree in the living room. A plaid throw in traditional Christmas colors drapes the hall bench covered with fabric from Brunschwig & Fils.
Two sitting areas help make this the cozy heart of the Blairs’ home. The sofa in the window niche is covered in fabric from Kravet and trimmed with bullion fringe from Robert Allen.
The “dynamic duo” is how Langworthy describes her daughter Kimberly and son-in-law Marc when it comes to entertaining. “That dining table has seen many a party,” Langworthy laughs. Here, Kimberly lights candles that illuminate the country table and Windsor chairs. “Always buy a table that looks good scratched,” advises Langworthy. “This one will age beautifully with time and use.”
The centerpiece—a cobalt blue gnome in a wreath of fresh pine—complements the blue-and-white Spode marine plates and Provençal linens. Kimberly deftly mixes “Lismore” Waterford crystal with wine glasses from Pottery Barn.
Just off the living room, a stone floor and informal wicker furniture offer an ideal setting for a casually appointed Christmas tree embellished with paper cutouts crafted by Sammy and Charlotte.
Wired ribbon ties pine sprigs to throw pillows for a festive feel.
Kimberly with her mother (and designer) Laura Langworthy.
A hammered copper hood above the island cooktop adds drama to this area of the great room, where wire reindeer prance on soapstone counters and wreaths hang from satin ribbons. The farmhouse-style sink is from Rohl.
Beyond the kitchen, a sunny breakfast room is festooned with holiday spirit. Santas and stockings are surrounded by cherry red details, like the plush area rug and rose-tinted vintage glassware.
Adding festive touches, decorative galvanized buckets display pine boughs and holly berries.
A niche in the family room is a cozy spot for a Victorian spool chair upholstered in “Delhi” fabric from Etamine. A display of European accessories, like a brass Dutch milk jug, lends a dose of charming antiquity.
The family’s Connecticut getaway is ready for snow. The Blairs bought their 1940s house in Washington Depot, Connecticut, for its small-town lifestyle and close-knit community.
Inspired by a place in Maine that Kimberly visited as a child, the bedroom, with its soft neutrals, evokes tranquility. Silhouettes above the pencil post bed are reminders of a Disneyland vacation.
A Christmas package is tied tenderly with small pearl drops.
The bed and reproduction 18th-century Sheraton nightstands are from Eldred Wheeler. Fabric for plaid silk panels from Robert Allen; Beacon Hill covers a chair.
A deep soaking tub is the centerpiece, while silver accessories stand out against the basket-weave tile floor.
See details on the following slides.
Master Bath Details
Silver reindeer serenely sunbathe on the windowsill.
Master Bath Details
Mercury glass vessels filled with white roses and greenery artfully top the marble vanity in the master bath.
Master Bath Details
A sterling silver matchbox engraved “Christmas 1888” was used by Langworthy as a locket as well as a reminder of their holiday history.