White lights and only three types of ornaments create a beautiful look for this grand tree.
Simply Elegant
Credit: Van Chaplin

"We love a live tree. If we couldn't have a live one, I don't think we'd have one at all." Jeanetta Keller, homeowner

What do you do when your tree outgrows your ornaments? That was the dilemma facing Bill and Jeanetta Keller when they agreed to participate in a holiday homes tour in the Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Mountain Brook. The simple collection of ornaments that they had enjoyed for years wasn't big enough to cover the 10-foot-tall tree they needed for the tour.

"We really loved the way our tree looked each year, and we didn't want to change it," Jeanetta says. "Fortunately, two of the three types of ornaments we collect were still available, so we just bought more. We'd never had a tree that big, though, so we kept underestimating how many ornaments we needed. We must have made at least three trips to the store."

Bill and Jeanetta's home blends the old and the new, reflecting both their love of history and their modern style. The stately, historic, tile-roofed house has uncluttered, contemporary interiors, and the Kellers like to decorate their tree in a similar fashion.

Their plan is simple: strands of tiny white lights, glass icicles, and medium- to large-size ornaments in shades of gold and cream. They add two sentimental elements―a star that always tops their tree and Bill's baby bracelet.

"That bracelet is blue and white," Jeanetta says with a laugh. "I'm not sure why we hang it on the tree every year, but we always do."

They bought the icicles and large ornaments from specialty shops, but everything else came from a large discount retailer. One look at their tree proves that you don't need expensive ornaments to get a great look.

Though the holiday season gets hectic for this busy couple, they always make time for their annual tree-trimming ritual. "We buy our tree from the same tree stand near the Birmingham Zoo every year," Jeanetta says. "Their trees come from North Carolina, and they're really beautiful. Then we set aside a Saturday and decorate the tree together. When we're finished, we have a glass of wine."

Here's to a gorgeous tree for the Kellers―and to a holiday tradition that gives this couple a special day to enjoy being home together.

"Simply Elegant" is from the Home for the Holidays 2007 issue of Southern Living.