So-Easy Outdoor Decorating

Give yourself a break this year. Forget the super high-wattage light show, and deck your home with just enough touches of greenery instead.
Robert Martin

It's the yuletide season again, and the race is on across the South to see who can assemble the most eye-catching display. Riding past these front yard extravaganzas is a blast. Still, there's something to be said about toning it down so that your home's architectural character shines through.

Fit for the Forest
Located in the rolling hills of Kingsport, Tennessee, Marcus and Rhonda Grimes's home sports curved rooflines, well-detailed windows, and decorative brackets that are too charming to cover up. These features, along with a mixture of stone, painted shingles, and muted cream stucco, create a scene worthy of a Currier & Ives print. "We wanted our home to complement its southern Appalachian setting, and architect Jim Samsel accomplished that," Rhonda says. "In keeping with many local, older neighborhoods, Jim drew inspiration from the American Shingle style, along with the Arts and Crafts movement from the 1920s." These influences are evident, even down to the lantern-like fixtures that adorn the front entry.

The Real Deal
To keep their decorating simple, the Grimeses got help from friend and local art teacher Charles Harrison, who saw the couple's yard as a prime source of materials. He tucked in magnolia leaves and ivy at the base of two dwarf Alberta spruces that flank the front door. The entry required little embellishment, thanks to a stained poplar door and matching side panels with upper lights. Sleigh bells and cedar sprigs tied with plaid ribbon dress up the door. Cedar wreaths hang in front of the adjacent windows.

With simple, well-placed decorations your home will look great, and your neighbors will thank you.

"So-Easy Outdoor Decorating" is from the December 2006 issue of Southern Living.