A Nature-Inspired Holiday in the Mountains
On a visit to the North Carolina mountains not long ago, we found the perfect location for a wonderful holiday decorating story as well as a seriously talented team that could create it. With interior designers Molly Northern and Darlene Parker, we visited the Sunalei Preserve (pronounced soo-nah-lee), a residential community situated on a majestic mountaintop near Boone. Molly and Darlene showed us through one of their favorite interior design projects, a handsome Adirondack-style lodge built of native stone, bark siding, and hand-hewn timbers that's known as the Main Camp. When the designers mentioned their plans to return to the Main Camp and decorate it for Christmas, we knew that we'd found quite a special story.
You can easily re-create Molly and Darlene's ideas using a variety of evergreen plant materials, such as boxwood, fir, pine, holly, and nandina. Clip some greenery from your garden or purchase it at a tree lot, and let's get started.
HOLIDAY HINT: Set your kitchen aglow with sparkly tree lights. Wrap a strand around a length of garland and swag it across the windows.
The designers surrounded the front entrance with boxwood garland; twisted lengths of the same material adorn the gabled timbers of the porch.
Fashion your own ornamental bird's nests by twisting clumps of Spanish moss or finely curled wood shavings into circles and adding a few candy eggs.
For several years, Sunalei's developers, Mary Jane and John Rice, collected pieces of antique sporting equipment. Their discoveries--items such as handmade snowshoes, wicker fishing creels, painted croquet sets, old skis, and wooden canoe paddles--find places of honor in each room. With a few clippings of pine or cedar, Darlene and Molly gave these old treasures a touch of holiday flair.
HOLIDAY HINT: If you remove any branches from your tree to make it fit the stand, wire them together and then add a bow and pinecones to duplicate this look.
The duo accented the dining table with a whimsical collection of porcelain elf vases and candy dishes, greenery, and desserts. And they didn't forget to cook up a little holiday cheer in the kitchen. They fashioned a holiday window treatment by twisting tiny white lights around evergreen garland and draping it above the window.
HOLIDAY HINT: Use quaint collectibles when setting your table. The designers filled nostalgic elf vases and figurines with an enticing array of candy and other goodies.
"Warm Welcome" is from the December 2007 issue of Southern Living.