Photography by Haley Lamb
From shiny gold balls and shimmering ribbons to whimsical themed Christmas trees, the holiday décor in this Magnolia Ridge home blends elegance and fun.
Most of the year, all is calm at the Evans home of Karen and Clarence Malcom. After all, they built their house nine years ago on three acres of tranquil wooded property in Magnolia Ridge.
On Christmas, however, that heavenly peace turns into a flurry of activity when about 50 family members celebrate at their house with them. The Malcoms enjoy the holiday with their three children and seven grandchildren as well as Karen’s siblings (she’s one of five children) and their extended families.
“Christmas is the only time of year the entire family can get together,” she says.
Making the yuletide gay long before the guests arrive, however, Karen decks the halls with Christmas décor that ranges from the traditional to the whimsical.
“I love to decorate,” says Karen. “I like to try different things and see what works.”
Christmastime is evident at the Malcom home before visitors even cross the threshold through the front door. Wreaths with festive gold bows adorn the outside windows, and a trio of small trees strung with white lights sits in containers along the garage.
Two more wreaths with gold bows and gold poinsettias hang on the front doors that are surrounded with greenery all aglow with white lights. On the flagstone, covered front porch, two poinsettias sit in planters by the doors. A pair of decorated trees with red skirts guard arched windows. Three lighted decorative presents – one green, one red and one white – rest on the porch as if St. Nick has just stopped by as well. A bench, where a Christmas pillow rests on the seat, occupies each corner of the porch, and two wooden reindeer sit on the walkway that leads up the front porch steps.
The holiday finery continues inside with three large Christmas trees in different rooms in the house.
An elegantly decorated tree draped with red and gold ornaments stretches toward the two-story ceiling in the living room. “We call this my tree because I want it to look like this,” says Karen. Presents wrapped in gold paper and tied with red ribbon for the teenaged family members sit beneath the tree.
And the location of the tree in the center of the room doesn’t occur by happenstance. “A friend of mine told me that I built the living room around being able to put the tree in the middle of the room,” Karen says. “She was right.”
On the mantel above the gas fireplace, figures of Mary, Joseph and the Christ child are nestled in rows of greenery and gold balls. A full nativity sits atop a blanket of gold fabric on a table behind the couch.
Red oak flooring is found throughout the house, and an arched door to a hall leads to the master suite. The master bedroom, which features a four-poster bed, opens onto a covered porch. More touches of gold highlight the master bath décor, including gold balls in a white bowl by the tub and gold silk poinsettias and greenery in a vase by the tub.
Inside Track to Fun
If the living room reflects Karen’s personality, then the study is all Clarence. And Clarence, undoubtedly, is an avid NASCAR fan whose favorite drivers are the late Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A NASCAR-themed tree is filled with auto racing-related ornaments, including balls bearing the number 3 and the number 8 in honor of the Earnhardts – Dale drove the No. 3 car and Dale Jr. once drove the No. 8 car, gas pump ornaments and racecar ornaments. Clarence also collects model cars, and part of his collection is parked on top of a tree skirt made of – what else? – black-and-white checkered fabric.
NASCAR stockings are draped on top of wing chairs covered in NASCAR-themed fabric. “I don’t think he’ll ever let me cover these chairs again,” Karen says.
French doors lead into the study, which has black trim around the room, and more of Clarence’s car collection is displayed in a curio cabinet. A Monopoly game table sits in one corner of the room, and a small jukebox stands in another corner. “My 5-year-old grandson loves the jukebox,” says Karen. “He loves to turn the lights on and off.”
The third tree in the house in the family room has an inside track to merriment as well. “This is a fun tree,” says Karen. “Any time we go to Disney World or Key West, we buy an ornament for this tree. It also has several ornaments that sing when you push a button.”
Packages swaddled in shiny lime green paper and bright red ribbons are piled under this tree to await the younger grandchildren on Christmas morning. Greenery brightens the arched TV opening above the mantel of the stacked stone fireplace. A red poinsettia guards the fireplace, and Santa figurines rest on the built-in bookshelves.
The colorful, fun theme continues into the adjoining breakfast nook, where square red plates with lime green polka dots top the table that is tucked into a bay window. Ornaments dangle from the light fixture above the table.
The kitchen, which also is connected to the family room and breakfast nook, showcases Karen’s creativity with its pale green ceiling and tri-colored cabinets.
“I didn’t want any white ceilings in the house. I wanted to paint the ceilings different colors,” says Karen.
The kitchen cabinets are a combination of walnut stain, old world finish and black paint. “I like all of the finishes, so our cabinet man said, ‘Let’s do all three,’” says Karen.
Striped Christmas balls hang from the light fixture above the island, which features a walnut stain and a sink. Other cabinets and the hood above the stove feature a walnut stain. The kitchen also includes stainless steel appliances, a tumbled stone backsplash and granite countertops.
“This is where we live,” Karen says of the connected rooms. And the kitchen sees plenty of activity during the holidays. While everyone brings food to share, Karen says the best part of Christmas is spending time with her family and making her children’s favorite sweets.
“I always make a chocolate layered cake for my son,” she says. “One of my daughters loves plum cake, but two years ago we didn’t even cut the cake so I made her take it home.”
Even if they don’t have a chance to enjoy all of their holiday desserts, the extended Malcom family always spends time outdoors during the holidays and all year round. And why wouldn’t they? From their covered back porch, the Malcoms can hear birds chirping or catch sight of deer, wild turkeys and red foxes.
“We love to be outside, so I do a lot of decorating outside,” says Karen.
The wraparound covered porch features tile flooring, and Christmas decorations include a round glass table topped with a red lantern, red ornaments and greenery. A small tree sits in the center of a wrought iron table. Greenery with strands of white lights is wrapped around the railing.
A lighted wreath with a red, a green and a gold ball adds Christmas cheer to the landing on the stairs leading to a lower covered porch that features elements of Key West, Florida.
The lower porch features a bead board ceiling that they installed themselves, terracotta tile flooring, colored lights laced in greenery on the railing, a bar that Clarence built, a TV, grills and prints on the wall by Key West artists.
“We go to Key West every year,” says Karen. “It’s laidback, relaxing and fun.”
Just like the holidays at the Malcom home.
By Betsy Gilliland