Cozy and Comforting
At Home in Arkansas:
You worked with homeowners Nancy and Chad Archer and their two children, Zach and Katie, to decorate their family’s home for the holidays. What was your inspiration for the design scheme?
Designer Andrea Brooks:
When we started the holiday project, the home had just been completed. Since we had recently finished designing the interiors, I wanted everything to be very natural and didn’t want the décor to overwhelm the rooms. The home was scheduled to be on the El Dorado Service League’s holiday tour, so this was also the first time Nancy would welcome the community into their new home. We wanted to create a comfortable and inviting setting that truly displayed the family’s traditional tastes.
AHIA: For many, the holidays are a time of returning home and celebrating our native roots. Are there any local or regional elements present in the design?
AB: Magnolias are a longstanding favorite because they reflect Nancy’s roots in Louisiana, where she grew up, and South Arkansas. We used fresh magnolia leaves in many of the table arrangements and fresh branches at the front door. We also included silk blossoms in several of the displays. To mimic the look of pine tree boughs in our region, pine garlands were incorporated throughout the home.
AHIA: Each family has its own special customs during the season. How did you go about incorporating the Archer family’s traditions?
AB: When I started the project, I was told that the Christmas tree was the one place where I was not allowed to have free rein. Each year the Archers set aside a night when they turn off cell phones and televisions, turn on the Christmas carols, and simply spend time together decorating their family tree. Since birth, each child has received a new ornament for his or her collection on this special night. They unwrap these, along with all their other treasured decorations, and fill their tree with special ornaments. They have many years of memories on this one tree.
AHIA: You mixed live greenery with holiday pieces that can be used year after year. How did you decide what to use in each display?
AB: As in any design project, I knew it was very important to begin with a good base. We selected premium artificial pine garlands that have the look of real boughs and will stand up to years of use. We used this as the common thread through all the rooms, and then mixed in berry branches, magnolia leaves and flowers to give each room its own twist. In the kitchen and breakfast room, we added fresh fruit.
AHIA: Do you have any tips for using live greenery or fresh decorations?
AB: Stick to what you have on hand or nearby. Choosing plants that are native to your region (or yard for that matter) will save you money and give your décor a natural appeal. One of the easiest ways to add color and vitality is to clip berry branches, and then arrange them in a vase or add them to garland strands. If they start to wither, simply replace them with fresh ones.
AHIA: Do you have any tried-and-true tips for holiday decorations?
AB: I prefer a look that enhances the existing décor and that has a common thread from room to room. Traditional red and green is not for everyone, but you can still achieve a festive look by working with the colors you already have in your home and adding a few accents.
Builder Owens Construction, El Dorado
Interior and holiday design, bedding Andrea Brooks Interiors, El Dorado
Holiday décor Paul Michael Company, Lake Village
Accessories The Armoire, Murphy Long Design, El Dorado
Art Backwoods Art & Frame Gallery, El Dorado
Draperies Classic Windows, El Dorado
Furnishings Warnock Furniture, Inc., Magnolia; Herring Furniture, Strong
Lamps Murphy Long Design, El Dorado; Warnock Furniture, Magnolia
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Rug Storey’s Floor & Carpet, El Dorado
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At Home in Arkansas offers your first look inside the state's most inspiring homes in a range of styles. The magazine features monthly advice from the experts to help you plan your next remodel or redesign, entertain at home or find Arkansas' best kept secrets. It is your definitive guide to the state's finest homes and gardens, design professionals, fashion and entertaining essentials, and premier shops and showrooms.