Nestled among the towering, lush trees of picturesque Mountain Brook Village, a Birmingham, AL, suburb, this modern family home embraces the celebratory elegance of holiday decor with an understated sense of ease and personal style. “It’s not about overdecorating,” says interior designer Fran Keenan of Fran Keenan Design in Homewood, AL. “It’s about adding that gentle, beautiful layer to how you live already.” This laid-back approach to holiday decor mirrors the homeowners’ functional, comfortable and modern aesthetic. “They didn’t want anything too formal. They wanted a livable, kid-friendly space where they could easily host friends and family,” says Fran, who worked with Birmingham architect Marshall Anderson of Design Initiative from day one.
Having full creative license over the home’s interiors, Fran has come to intimately know the family and their everyday needs in a space, down to where they store all of their brooms and vacuums, kitchen items and kids’ toys. “They are dear friends,” says Fran, who has incorporated her clients’ personal interests into the decor with their beloved beautiful coffee table books, local modern art and the family’s passion for piano, with the grand piano in the entryway.
Fran also knew how to capture the homeowners’ holiday style with muted, natural tones. “I think it is fun to have two trees, one that is more tender and warm with nostalgic, family-oriented ornaments, and another more elegant, formal tree with an artistic or themed look,” says Fran, whose “dew drop tree” in the home’s front dining room captures the more formal sparkling elegance of the holidays. The glass bubble ornaments interplay with the twinkle lights, moving gently against a rich backdrop of evergreen branches. “Forgo the traditional tree skirt and add a layer of cowhides. You can mix and match the styles, and you can do it with rugs or blankets and quilts,” says Fran of her modern, creative tree skirt. “There are no rules, and it gives the tree a dramatic buildup.”
To complete the nontraditional holiday tablescape in the light-filled dining room, Fran simply added a little sparkle with metallics and glass to the color palette that was already in place. These simple elements, paired with greenery, flowers and pine cones, elevate the setting. Fran suggests keeping floral blooms low, so that seated guests can look down into the gorgeous blossoms. And the naked artistic tree anchors the table arrangement with a much-needed element of height that doesn’t interfere with guests’ visual lines across the table.
The office is the ideal retreat for getting organized and wrapping holiday presents, with its large work-table-style desk custom made by Appleseed Workshop. The bookshelves are filled with the homeowners’ collection of fabulous books, artwork handcrafted by their kids and interesting pieces, such as their vintage scale, which sits on the windowsill. The side shelves’ interiors are corkboard paneled for organizing thoughts, notes and photos, and other day-to-day bric-a-brac that can be easily hidden by the Roman shades. The striking Liza Sherman rattan light fixture, which Fran admits she’s in love with, provides a warm, diffused light to fill the room as daylight fades away.
The kitchen embraces a functional, durable design with its custom concrete countertops, Wolf range and stainless steel backsplash. The dishes are exposed for easy access and so that the kids can help put the dishes away. Fran took all of the usual refrigerator art clutter and moved it to a high-traffic family kitchen exit to the backyard, where she covered the walls in corkboard. It makes for a terrific place to display the kids’ artwork and accomplishments in a noncluttered, pleasing arrangement. And, during the holidays, it is the perfect place to collect Christmas cards. Fran used twine and paper clips to create an adorable holiday card collage. Just off of the kitchen, a breakfast banquette flows into the family room. “The idea was to have these three rooms connected, so that the kids could do their homework at the table or the family could watch TV as dinner is being prepared,” says Fran.
The decor of the family room is casual and modern, with vintage elements, personal touches and luxe furniture — a vintage sawhorse, exposed pine beams, a Moorish resin-coated burlap coffee table, a custom sofa and banquette, metal-and-molded veneer vintage chairs, lambskin throws, lamps made from reclaimed materials by New York City-based artist John Dorian, a Hans Wegner “Papa Bear” chair, a Kudu mount above the fireplace and plush throws and pillows in fine fabrics.
The Christmas tree in the family room has that warm, homespun feel, with its felt and crocheted ornaments, mostly animals, that the homeowner has collected over the years. The branches are trimmed to make room for the gifts, which sit upon a custom tree skirt of old fabric samples, made by Fran Keenan Design.
Feel free to forego the frills and the traditional red-and-green color palette this season with decorative elements that embrace the simple beauty of nature, capture your personal style and awaken your creative energy. And, most importantly, have fun while you deck the halls! Happy decorating!
Thank you to photographer Brendon Pinola for today’s stunning photography. See more of Brendon’s work at brendonpinolaphotography.com.