Returning to the house where she grew up—for good—was the best holiday present of all for Birmingham resident Betsy Goldstein.
Betsy Goldstein and her husband Trey bought her childhood home when her parents decided to sell and transformed it into the perfect mix of old and new elements. The Goldstein’s asked Fran Keenan, neighbor and interior decorator, to reinvent the space with vibrant colors and lively patterns, and, boy, did this space come alive when complemented with bright Christmas color schemes.
Rather than keeping with a traditional red and green Christmas color scheme, Fran incorporated a colorful holiday color palette to match the style in this Birmingham home. She decorated for Christmas without sacrificing the character of the Goldstein’s home by incorporating Christmas greenery around staircases and lighting, placing fresh produce above the fireplace mantel, and adding a pop of holiday color wherever possible. With everything from colorful ornaments to a cheerful bar cart that's sure to please at any holiday party, this holiday home is brimming with bright Christmas decorating ideas.
The Family Room
The Space: Birmingham based architect Chad Bryant, who was hired for the remodel, raised the former kitchen's flat ceiling to make it an A-frame and applied wall paneling vertically to emphasize this room's new height. "Chad put windows along the back wall so I can see the children in the backyard while I'm in the adjacent kitchen," says Betsy.
Bright Idea: Wrap your tree in a garland formed from magnolia leaves stapled together with their backs facing out.
The Family Room
The Decorating: The Goldsteins asked Fran Keenan, neighbor and interior decorator, to reinvent the space with vibrant colors and lively patterns. She convinced the Goldsteins to enliven the walls with turquoise. She says, "Don't overthink paint colors. Picture them as backdrops for all the colorful details you add on top of them." Next, Fran selected comfy furnishings such as a tuxedo sofa, an English club chair, and a wing chair. Bursts of pattern inject youthful energy.
Bright Idea: Orange curtains printed with blue china and lemons are a jovial nod to the nearby kitchen.
The Dining Room
The Space: Back when this was a den, parquet floors suited it. But Fran wanted to dress up the look, so she stained them in diagonal stripes. New wall paneling painted deep blue-green grounds the room and mimics the original knotty pine that once hung there.
The Decorating: Fran offset the lively floors and blue walls with formal antique furniture and pops of red, including an Asian buffet and burgundy leather chairs, which Fran says were "born for this room." The home's original yellow front door, painted by Betsy's mom, beckons guests to a new side porch off the dining room.
The Bar Cart
"I love taking something that's aspirational and bringing it down to earth," says Fran. An antique Asian mirror looks less serious stationed above Serena & Lily's South Seas Bar Cart, and the lamp offers light when mixing evening cocktails.
The Place Setting
A striking but laid-back display of family silver, blue-and-white transferware, casual napkins, and oranges used as place card holders adds to the dining room's warm, inviting feel. A centerpiece composed of hydrangeas, limes, roses, and lilies complements the suzani-patterned curtains.
A two-tiered iron chandelier above the table fills up vertical space but doesn't block light from the window. Lilac leaves are woven around the fixture to add a simple holiday accent. (Don't let greenery touch the bulbs; replace if it dries out.)
The Space: To create one large, central cooking space, the design team moved the kitchen to the center of the house, where the dining room used to be. They also widened the back doorway to mimic an open-floor-plan feel.
The Decorating: The kitchen island, arguably the room's prize detail, was inspired by a Parisian apartment Fran saw in a magazine years ago. "It had an amazing old furniture piece as the kitchen island, and it had clearly lived many years," says Fran. Paintworks Design Studio in Birmingham re-created the patinaed look and topped it with Imperial Danby marble. The color scheme pays homage to Betsy's blue-and-white childhood kitchen. A second farmhouse sink in the island and open shelving on one end are a practical addition for the busy family.
The Living Room
The Space: Guests enter directly into the middle of the living room—a tricky design problem that Fran solved with symmetry. "A room located at the house's center needs strong balance," she says. A well-composed furniture arrangement of two wing chairs flanking a fireplace greets visitors.
The Decorating: To combat the room's lack of direct light (blocked by the front porch overhang), Fran hung a large mirror over the mantel and painted the ceiling a pale aqua. "Whites are lovely, but without ample natural light, they don't look as great as they should." Continuing the blue scheme, Fran curated a cozy look with an ice blue tight-back sofa, an Oriental rug with blue flowers, and blue-and-white chinoiserie curtains.
Supplement your traditional holiday decor with new finds from your own backyard. Here, simple spruce clippings and magnolia leaves tied with a blue ribbon give old family stockings a fresh new look.
A mix of seeded eucalyptus, magnolia, and spruce is wired together to hang loosely on the banister. Along the wall behind it, Fran placed family photos, freeing up furniture surfaces to hold decorative objects. "There are no rules for gallery walls—just mix it up. The more frames you have, the better," she says.
"I love shopping the grocery store for Christmas decorations," says Fran. Here, colorful oranges and apples rest on spruce and magnolia clippings. It's no coincidence that these fruits complement her decor scheme. Tailor your selections to your own room's palette.
The Kids' Room
The Space: Originally Betsy's sister's room, the front bedroom now sleeps her two young sons. For a dose of ruggedness, the design team crafted the reclaimed-oak ceiling using leftover wood from one of Trey's construction projects.
The Decorating: As soon as Fran showed me the dragonfly fabric, I knew it belonged in the boys' room," says Betsy, whose sons like bugs. Fran painted the walls chartreuse (Sour Apple by California Paints) to break up the browns and inject a fun burst of energy. Antique twin beds are regal but sturdy enough to handle roughhousing. A rustic drum shade, a vintage work desk, and a rug from Serena & Lily complete the room.
The Master Suite
The Space: When Betsy's parents bought the house in 1984, the master bedroom was inconveniently tacked onto the back of the house behind her brother's bedroom. To get there, her parents had to tiptoe through his room, which was clearly not ideal for anyone. Betsy and Trey kept the master bedroom location but turned the pass-through room into a hallway, walk-in closet, and large master bath.
The Accessories: The 1960s headboard was too short to make an impact, so Fran had an upholsterer add 2 feet to it and re-cover it with a Kelly green linen. The capiz shell light fixture offers a subtle shot of glamour.
The Master Suite
The Decorating: A Greek key pattern and a shared—but not matching—color palette form the thread tying together the spaces in the master suite. Fran wanted the rooms to feel like quiet retreats for Betsy and Trey, so she chose calm colors and soft textiles while sprinkling in a few bold colors and prints. In keeping with the rest of the house's design, both spaces incorporate shades of blue—a periwinkle ceiling and royal blue accents in the bedroom and a powder blue graphic rug in the bath.
The Accessories: Cloudlike Turkish Tulu rugs in both rooms impart a light, pampering feel to the master suite.