A Home for the Holidays
By Claudia Johnson, Log Cabin Homes Magazine, November 2018
Photography by Brandon Malone Photography
Styling by Lexie Nale of At My Front Door
Christmas is the time for traditions – for honoring old ones and creating new. It’s a time for decking the halls, welcoming friends and creating memories. Last year Honest Abe Log Homes engaged stylist Lexie Nale, owner of At My Front Door in Charleston, S.C., to create a home for the holidays at its 2,820-square-foot model home, the Cambridge, in Crossville, Tennessee.
“Decorating a log home offers both challenges and opportunities,” Nale said, pointing out that the soaring ceilings, towering windows, wide-open living spaces and imposing chimneys typical of many log homes require special decorating considerations, as it did with this home.
The great room is one and one half stories of logs capped by a Douglas fir heavy timber roof system. A two-story manufactured stone fireplace with a mantle and hearth cut from local quarry rock is the focal point of the 1,864-square-foot ground floor. Nale draped the mantle with evergreen and magnolia and placed nearby a towering pine tree festooned with a flowing red bow and clusters of gold and red ornaments.
“My concept for decorating a log home is to let the style of the house be your guide,” Nale said. “Remember if you don’t have the number or size of ornaments you need, go for the bows and ribbons,” Nale advised. “If you can’t find garland as thick as you would like, combine two or three together to give it fullness. You must always consider the scale of your room.”
Nale kept scale in mind when decorating the home’s three bedrooms, one downstairs and two on the 956-square-foot second floor. For the bedrooms, Nale chose small trees with delicate ornaments and tiny white lights – each as distinctly different as the room itself.
“Some elements that can be incorporated into any style are pine branches, pine cones, wooden deer heads, birds and a variety of Christmas decorations – some old and some new,” Nale said. “Fruit is nice, if not fresh go to nice artificial pieces, I am thinking cranberries, pomegranates and oranges. I also love using plaid ornaments with a mix of traditional Christmas colors.”
The stylist emphasized that it’s perfectly fine to deviate from greens and reds.
“I sometimes use mineral colors and pastels,” she said. “Branches with ice and mercury glass ornaments create a different look, and with the correct selection of ribbons this can be stunning.”
The finish of the logs and floors greatly determines whether to use light colors or more intense colors, Nale observed.
“For example, the naturally finished Eastern White Pine walls in this log home and the number of large windows created many reflective surfaces on the walls, flooring and ceilings, so using rich, deep colors worked well,” she said.
Nale said that with darker wood she would use lighter colors, strategically placed lights and perhaps add glitter or mirrors.
“These are very reflective and help to lighten the area,” she said, adding, “In either case lots of ribbons can be your best source for creating a powerful impact in the most economical way.”
Greenery such as magnolia leaves, holly, cedar, pine and other evergreens can be used throughout the home in large or small quantities.
“Using fresh usually limits longevity, but it does have a wonderful aroma and cozy feeling, such as the smell of fresh pine or other greens,” Nale said. “Fill bowls and vases with beautiful ornaments and a touch of greenery. Use wreaths through out the home, they are not just for the door! I particularly love using them in the kitchen and a special wreath for each bedroom with matching decor pieces like pillows or throws. ”
Nale hung several of her company’s custom designed wreaths, adding hints of evergreen, holly, magnolia, pinecones and berries inside and out.
“Whatever decorating style you choose, remember to match your decorations with your front door wreath,” she said. “Your entrance is very important. It welcomes your guests to your home and sets the tone for your home.”
Nale said it’s never too soon to plan for holiday decorating.
“Start early! It gives your brain time to define your theme,” she said. “Just remember the basics, and it will be beautiful.”
Honest Abe’s annual Christmas celebration kicks off this year on Dec. 7 at 10 a.m., when guests enjoy a cup of hot cider and a free log home tour, including the Cambridge, which remains decorated for the holidays through New Year’s.
More about the home:
Stylist Lexie Nale wove together a variety of craft store garlands to create the lush look. Intertwined with garland and ribbon, the wood and wrought iron staircase lands at an open sitting room soaked in light from vaulted ceilings and warmed by a second story fireplace. To maintain scale with decorations, Nale hand crafted oversized bows and clustered small ornaments for the imposing 12’ Christmas tree.
The open kitchen and dining room feature an exposed beam heavy timber ceiling with the distressed pine floors extending from the great room. A double opening gas fireplace is shared by the dining room and great room. The downstairs living space is extended by opening patio doors from the dining room onto a large covered porch with a vaulted ceiling, a stamped concrete floor and a wood-burning fireplace.
The gray-brown kitchen island and white wall cabinets are glazed gray. The countertops are quartz. Under and over cabinet illumination is accomplished with LED tape lights.
The pantry door by Green River Door and Window was lightly stained with Perma Chink Ultra7 Smoke. Decorator Lexie Nale created a custom evergreen wreath adorned with red berries, a red lantern and flannel and satin bows. Cabinetry on either side of the pantry was beveled to allow easy access as well as utilize the space at the end of each cabinet.
The home’s sunroom, with its tile floor and heavy timber roof marries naturally finished timber frame components such as post and beam with painted drywall and stained D-logs to create a relaxing, well-lighted sitting area. Accessible from the kitchen and dining area, it also offers direct exterior access, creating the perfect office or studio. Christmas decorations like a basket of gold and red balls and a tall, ribboned tree do not overwhelm the cozy space.
The 2,820-square-foot house is built of Eastern white pine dovetailed 8″ x 12″ D-Logs and was designed to present a warm glow through its many windows, including windows inside and above the front gable and clad windows in each room overlooking the 1,700 square feet of stamped concrete, covered porches.
The first floor master suite encompasses a bedroom, luxury master bath and walk-in closet. Floors are 7” distressed pine, and the ceiling is of heavy timber exposed beams. For Christmas the sitting area in a half hexagonal bay is subtlety decorated with a small evergreen tree.
A 12’ Christmas tree is visible through the double entrance doors on which two custom wreaths decorated with pinecones, evergreen, berries and cardinals are affixed. Adding a Craftsman flavor to the grand entrance, the door panes have prairie grills, a full-width stationary transom and paneled sidelights.
The master bathroomʼs tile and wood walk-in shower features a seat and a multi-head shower. The log wall is protected by a tempered glass barrier. Dual sink cabinetry and a walk-in closet with a dressing room can be closed off for bathing privacy.
A large upstairs bedroom features a built-in desk, a walk-in closet, track lighting, vaulted ceilings, exposed structural beams, tongue and groove wainscot and a full bath with walk-in shower. The interior walls are painted drywall, and the floors are clear maple. A slim spruce tree with traditional Christmas decorations adds to the holiday spirit.
A second floor full bath opens from a large guest bedroom or the loft sitting area. Adding to the room’s appeal is the lighted, walk-in shower and a granite-top reproduction cabinet with an amber-colored glass bowl sink.
Accessible from the loft sitting room, the second upstairs bedroom has a cozy alcove in a dormer window, a large closet and knee-wall storage. It is decorated for Christmas with a small, lighted tree topped with a gold bow.
Total Living Space: 2,820; First Floor Sq. Footage: 1,864; Second Floor Sq. Footage: 956; Porch Sq. Footage: 1,700; Stain & Finish: Perma-Chink Ultra 7 Smoke; Windows: Jeld-Wen Siteline EX Wood Clad