Date: November 29, 2021 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Stephanie Maxwell Newton |
A preppy, Southern twist on traditional decor brings Christmas cheer to a family home
There is always a bit of kismet involved in finding the right house, even for those in the business of homes. Take for example Juliana and Clay Carlton, a broker and a home builder, respectively. “Since we’re both in the industry, we’re always really attune to what’s happening in the market. But just like everyone else, we had trouble finding exactly what we wanted,” Juliana says. They had, however, developed what she calls a “from-the-street crush” on a few houses in their favorite Fayetteville neighborhood. “We passed by it every day on walks, and we thought it was so cute—we had just never seen the inside,” Juliana says. She and Clay sent letters to five homes not on the market asking if the owner would be interested in selling, and as it happened, this one was.
Once they finally stepped inside, the couple fell in love with the home’s layout, which seemed just right for their family of four. Having undergone two rounds of remodels in recent years, the interiors were not in need of major updates; in fact, Juliana felt many of the existing features, such as the use of paint colors from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection, were in tune with her own tastes. However, to bring a fresh, cohesive feel to the house, she called on her friend Melissa Simmons, owner of design firm Studio MH. “Melissa and I initially met through a mutual client. She has such amazing taste, and any time I can work with her, I love to,” Juliana says. Together, they picked out light fixtures, dining room furniture, and fabrics partly inspired by the earthy, green-gray color seen on the trim and exterior.
The resulting neutral, transitional tone of the home serves as a perfect backdrop for the family’s holiday décor, designed and installed by Whitney Bonaminio. “It all started with that navy blue plaid ribbon,” Whitney says. As the owner of Christmas by Whitney, she has been a part of the Carltons’ holiday design for going on three years now. “I was like, What do you think about blue? I wanted to do something different than the traditional red and green, and she was OK with me thinking outside the box.” Further inspired by the magnolia trees on the home’s property, Whitney incorporated faux magnolia into the mix along with blueberry stems, fresh greenery, ribbon, and gold and blue baubles for a beautiful yet unexpected approach
Family pup Theo keeps warm and cozy by the fire in the Carltons’ living room.
A garland of fresh and faux greenery, blueberry sprigs, and the scheme’s signature plaid ribbon accents the chest in the entry. “She has so many green accents in her home, so I thought the navy would add another layer and stand out,” Whitney says. A custom piece by Northwest Arkansas painter Jason Lahay complements the palette.
Trimmed in Traditions
The holiday design carries throughout the living spaces and into an alcove off the entry that serves as home for the Christmas tree. Alongside Whitney’s décor scheme is a sentimental collection of ornaments representing every trip the couple has taken together. The ornaments are a tradition that started as a surprise from Clay to Juliana. On the wall separating this space from the dining room is a painting by local artist Allison Hobbs and a contemporary credenza perfect for storing tableware and serving pieces.
In the dining room, a set of framed intaglios paired with a modern, textured chandelier speaks to the home’s mix of styles. A clever treatment of the fabric on the dining chairs (centering different parts of the repeat on the chair fronts and backs) creates visual interest. “It almost feels like two different fabrics because of the different shapes it makes,” Juliana says. Whitney adorned the table with ribbon and boughs of evergreens around the base of three whimsical trees.
“I wanted to keep it young and preppy. She’s so put together but also really fun, and I thought this transitional design reflected that.”—Whitney Bonaminio, Christmas designer
The home’s spacious floor plan was part of what sealed the deal when the Carltons finally toured its interior. When the family entertains, traffic flows from room to room, and slipper chairs on casters move easily from the hearth to the sectional to create conversation areas. A piece by another local artist, Robert Lemming, hangs over the mantel, and the cool blue lamps and raffia-wrapped coffee table bring an almost-coastal air to the comfortable living area.
A breakfast nook in the kitchen is one of Juliana’s favorite places. “It’s probably the most-used spot in our house. The kids do homework there, we serve big breakfasts, and when the kids were a little younger, Clay and I could sit there drinking coffee and watch them in the backyard,” she says. A custom cushion and mix of patterned throw pillows make it a cozy place to lounge, and fresh evergreen swags carry holiday cheer through the space.
Built-in shelving and a large étagère keep Juliana’s stylish home office functional and organized.
Cool & Comfortable
The home’s green palette shifts to blue in the primary bed and bath, thanks in part to a portrait of their pup, Dickson, painted by Sarah Creasman. “We worked off the blues we already had and painted the bathroom a similar color, and it’s very light and peaceful,” Juliana says. Whitney brought hints of the holidays to the spaces with glass Christmas trees on the bedside tables and a magnolia branch accenting the soaking tub.
Christmas design Christmas by Whitney, Whitney Bonaminio Appliances Metro Appliances & More Art Sarah Creasman, Allison Hobbs, Kaufman By Design West, Jason Lahay, and Robert Lemming Furniture Harper Howey Interiors and Studio MH Lighting Studio MH Paint Benjamin Moore Painting America’s Painting & Remodeling Rugs Studio MH and Tom January Floors Upholstery Callista’s Creations and Mountjoy’s Draperies Window coverings Mountjoy’s Draperies