As a child I remember associating songs like Over the River and Through the Woods, Chestnuts Roasting By an Open Fire and White Christmas with the approaching holidays. Of course, growing up in New Orleans didn’t lend itself to roasting chestnuts over an open fire in tropical winter weather. Nor could I realistically dream of a white Christmas. However, my mother would merrily burst into singing Over the River as we crossed the Styx River near the end of the trip to my grandparents’ home in Pensacola each Thanksgiving! I still live in New Orleans and Thanksgiving is just a week away and it’s a guess whether we will be using air-conditioning or heat next Thursday. Yet, I can still dream of chestnuts on an open fire, right?
The November issue of House and Home takes readers to designer Sarah Richardson’s country home dressed for the holidays. Sarah bought a 50 acre farm with an apple orchard and featured the farm house renovation for last season’s Sarah’s House on HGTV. The life style there is relaxed, cozy and homey and epitomizes my idea of where and how to spend a winter holiday.
Sarah’s design partner, Tommy Smythe, shared great ideas for small spaces in a House and Home video of his former apartment and was interviewed by Apartment Therapy about his current apartment. In turn, Tommy interviewed Sarah for the House and Home story. Here are some of the questions he asked:
TS-What does it mean to you to have this place in the country?
SR-The most important thing to me is to spend time with my kids and family, and that’s best done out of the city and away from the buzz of a very hectic work life.
TS-How did you approach dressing this space for the holidays?
SR-The farm is brought to life through warm colours and soft textures and everything that makes you feel comfy and at ease… For the holidays, I wanted to do what felt right for the house, and its rugged natrual surroundings, so I chose lots of greenery, branches and boughs.
TS-If you had to identify three must-haves at Christmastime, what would they be?
SR-Much of the way I decorate is nostalgic, a reference to my own home while growing up. So i always run out and buy amaryllis and paperwhites for the mantel and dining table. Oh, and clementine oranges!
TS-We really need to talk about that tree. You had ornaments of every colour, style and shape on there. It was like your life in Christmas ornaments.
SR-It also included ornaments from my childhood and ones my mom made.
TS-What are the hallmarks of a Sarah Holiday Tabletop?
SR-I think what’s important is not getting too caught up in having a perfectly matched setting for 12 people. An eclectic table isn’t a trend for me-it’s the only way I know how to do it. I can’t imagine everything looking tickety-boo because then it has no reflection of history. Last year it was a mix of silver that came from Alex’s (husband) mother and antique Limoges plates given to me by my mom, paired with dinner plates from my grandmother, all tied up with a beautiful piece of ribbon. My mom made the placemats from an Irish linen runner.Eclectic Table with paperwhites
TS-That’s such a quintessential illustration of what the farm is all about: mixing the rustic with the fine.
This is a time for sharing. What are your family’s holiday traditions? Do you have a special recipe or tips for decorating and entertaining that you want to share? We’d love to hear from you.
– Lorre Lei