Christmas Cachet

Holiday decor takes its cue from the Old World styling of this extraordinary custom home in Webster Groves.

By Barb Wilson
Photography by Anne Matheis


“Subtle and muted” aren’t words one typically associates with the colors of the holiday season. But that was this homeowner’s objective as she planned for Yuletide festivities in the spectacular custom home in Webster Groves that she and her family have enjoyed since its completion in May of 2011.

Lavished with wood and stone, inside and out, the multi-level residence is a fashionable blend of French and Tuscan styling that evokes the Old World charm of a rustic European country manor. Set on 2.5 exquisitely landscaped acres, the home encompasses 5,700 square feet on the main and upper levels, another 1,100 square feet on the finished lower level and a spacious bonus area, used as a media room, above the garage. 

Decorating a home of this size for the holidays might seem a bit daunting, but the owner was excited by the prospect of “starting over with a new house.” “I wanted to complement the décor of each room, and it was a group effort,” she explains, crediting her landscape designers, Kim Kelce and Nancy Pedley of Kelce & Pedley Design, for their gifted assistance. 

Favorite ornaments saved from the family’s previous home were relegated to the Christmas tree in the lower-level activity area, and attention focused on creating a cohesive holiday theme for the primary entertainment/living spaces.

Striking stone walls line the entry foyer, which showcases an antique French console inset with semi-precious gems, c. 1850, from Kyle Antiques in New Orleans. The holiday mood is immediately established by a collection of gold reindeer and tall gold candleholders, artfully grouped on the console. A swag of dried magnolia leaves drapes the large, gilt-framed mirror, fabricated by Frame of Mind, and an arrangement of magnolia leaves, dried hydrangea, red twigs and faux berries centers the foyer’s antique walnut pedestal table.

Open to the foyer, the two-story great room is spanned by massive reclaimed timber beam trusses and dominated by a carved French limestone fireplace from Francois & Co., surmounted by a Venetian-style mirror from Restoration Hardware. 

Positioned in front of the great room windows is an annual family tradition – a fresh-cut Douglas fir, and the owner opted to design the trimmings for this year’s 10-foot version herself, noting, “I wanted a romantic look, in keeping with the room’s décor.” Simulating the soft blue-gray tones of the space, she chose French-style mercury glass ornaments, feathered birds and a large satin bow, accented with silver poinsettias and coppery pinecones.

Lining the mantel are remote-controlled, flickering LED candles in mercury glass holders, and a swag of fresh magnolia leaves, centered with another blue-gray bow and interwoven with glitter-encrusted pinecones, reinforces the romantic ambience.

The home is ideal for large gatherings, prompting the owner to remark, “We can seat up to 50 guests for dinner.” And the formal dining room is a showstopper, starting with its imposing wood entry doors by Dave Dixon of Strange Imports in Colorado. Dixon purchases and restores antique furnishings from the Orient, as exemplified by these magnificent Asian courtyard doors, which harmonize beautifully with the reclaimed plank flooring that blankets much of the home’s main level. Making this architectural synergy even more unique, the flooring – installed with antique nails – was done by Sanford Headings, an Amish craftsman.

Brought from New Orleans, the inlaid “pedestal” dining table seats 10 and rests on a baluster salvaged from a 17th-century European building. A slub linen runner with a hint of gold stretches the full length of the table and is arrayed with traditional red poinsettias, crystal-encrusted pinecones and a matched pair of heavy-plated candlesticks. 

Suspended between the rustic wood beams overhead are stylized Restoration Hardware chandeliers, hand-crafted from French oak wine barrel staves and hoops, which draw attention to one of the most distinctive features of this home. The wine “cellar” is cleverly located on the main floor, adjacent to and accessible from the dining room. Two dramatic arches divide the dining room’s long, stone-faced wall; one encases the decorative entry door to this fully equipped, temperature-controlled storage area; the other is a muntin-style window offering guests a view of the owners’ extensive wine collection.

Equally conducive to entertaining is the family dining area, which is open to the great room and stunning kitchen. Although modestly referred to by the owners as the “breakfast room,” this expansive space is more than adequate for a large Tuscan dining table from Restoration Hardware and a generously proportioned leather seating group arranged in front of the limestone fireplace. 

Acid-treated to achieve its aged, weathered look, the table can be extended from 7 to 10 feet in length and is surrounded by French oak chairs, upholstered in Belgian linen. Seasonal table ornaments include white poinsettias in a stone planter, glitter-frosted pinecone candles and two oversized hurricane candleholders.

On the side wall, a rustic wood-framed mirror, also from Restoration Hardware, tops the antique console table, which displays mercury-glass ornaments set on mercury-glass candleholders and a majolica compote filled with a spray of greenery and faux silver foliage.

Flanked by arched cabinetry, the floor-to-ceiling fireplace is Aux Vases limestone from St. Genevieve. A rough-hewn beam serves as the mantel and provides the setting for fluted vases holding silvery sprays and pinecones, fresh soft greens and a faux boxwood garland interspersed with tiny lights.

Powder rooms are an unlikely topic of social conversation but, in this case, guests probably can’t resist. The highlight of the powder room is a reproduction European fountain that has been retrofitted as a washbasin, and the privacy alcove features an ornate wrought-iron and marble console table topped by a French trumeau mirror. A faux grapevine with gold berries adds a holiday touch to the fountain.

Understated yet elegant, the holiday décor of this gracious residence is beautifully integrated with its Old World styling, embellishing the architectural elements and furnishings without detracting from their inherent dramatic effect. From foyer to powder room, the ornamentation is a work of art – subtle, imaginative and a tribute to the season.