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Home for the Holidays: In Fine Style - Ladue News: Design

Home for the Holidays: In Fine Style

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Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 1:01 pm | Updated: 4:21 pm, Thu Dec 15, 2011.

For Nate, the magic really did begin at the front door. When the homeowners’ grandson was visiting last Christmas Eve, the 3-year-old was encouraged to go and see who rang the doorbell.

“It’s Santa!” he said with a grin. “Come on in!” And with that, he took Santa’s hand, led him to meet the rest of the family, and reminded the visitor to take some cookies for “the long flight.”

It’s no surprise that Nate would find it perfectly reasonable to have Santa Claus visit his grandparents’ home. With exquisite decorations collected over three generations, the spirit of the holiday is present in every corner. “It takes about two weeks to decorate,” says the lady of the house, “Although my husband tells everyone I start around Labor Day!”

The homeowners built their home a little more than a decade ago. “After we found the plan, we kept the footprint and tweaked the inside. It took about a year to build,” she says. One of the most significant changes was to the kitchen island, a spectacular expanse of granite with seating for six and SRO for another three or four guests. Perfect for family and friends to gather ‘round, the island also is a great stage for holiday canisters filled with Santas, snowmen and ribbon candy. The Vaillancourt Twelve Days of Christmas Santa collection, a gift from her brother, is displayed in the divided lights of the kitchen windows.

While most of the house is decorated in traditional red, green and gold, a serene sunroom is dressed for the season in holiday pastels. “This is my girls’ room,” the homeowner says. “We can come in here and enjoy a glass of wine and girl talk. There’s no TV, no football.” Opposite the wall of glass, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves hold cherished photos, books and memories. “My treasures are on that wall—like the spun cotton ornaments that belonged to my grandmother, who was born in 1892. That’s what she put on her Christmas tree when she was a child.” Originally designed to open to the formal dining room, the couple closed the sunroom for privacy and to make room for a dining room buffet.

“My husband found the dining room set at an estate sale,” she says. “It looked black from years of wax and the chairs had plastic covers. When it was being unpacked, the first thing my mom said was Rip those plastic covers off! After I had it refinished, my husband was convinced I bought new dining room furniture until we showed him the old plastic covers!” Now elegantly upholstered in a shell pattern that echoes the architectural shells of the dining room cabinetry, the chairs complement a table that seats 10. The Royal Doulton china on display—Booths Real Old Willow—belonged to her brother. “He gave it to me because he hated hand-washing it!”

Marvelously open to the outdoors with walls of windows and French doors, the home is ideal for entertaining. “When the weather is nice, people can walk out to the screened-in porch and down to the patio,” the homeowner explains. The lower level features a second kitchen and additional dining space, for the large gatherings the couple clearly cherishes. “We’re really fortunate to live in a house that we love, but when it’s filled with family and friends, we just sit back and say Wow! Isn’t this just wonderful?

Photos by Michael Jacob

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