Date: December 1, 2022 | Story: Rebekah Hall Scott | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
In Little Rock, Laurie Miller of The Velvet Boxwood creates a subtle, elegant holiday story for a family home
When Laurie Miller first connected with these Little Rock homeowners through one of her clients, she says she immediately understood their vision for the home’s Christmas design. “They wanted the house to have an elegant, modern feel to it, but still have all the warmth you feel at Christmas,” she says.
For Laurie, decorating for the holidays has been a lifelong passion. When she worked for a design firm before starting her own business, she served as lead Christmas designer and taught classes on the subject. “I’ve always had a real love and passion for Christmas,” Laurie says. “My birthday is three days before Christmas, so it’s my time of year. I love what the season represents and the time with family.”
Because her clients also value togetherness at the holidays, Laurie says the open-concept house is a perfect fit for their tight-knit family. The homeowners worked with interior designer Jill Lawrence on creating a streamlined, organic style throughout the home, and Laurie wanted the Christmas décor to “embody what Jill had done, and make it all uniform,” she says.
Stepping outside traditional holiday shades such as red and green, a color story was selected based on the slate and blue tones already present in the home. “That was something we were very intentional about, making sure that everything flowed seamlessly and kept a cohesive storyline through the whole home for the holidays,” Laurie says.
Along with ribbons in shades of blue, gray, and cream, Laurie added touches of a coffee-colored brown to help “soften and give more definition” to the décor, including sugar pine cones and mocha-toned ornaments. “It can become heavy if you get too matchy-matchy, and we were trying to keep the house organic and flowy,” she says.
Bursts of fresh greenery throughout the home—including the client’s favorite, silver dollar eucalyptus—bring texture to the space’s cool colors and modern lines. “The home is so cozy that we just wanted to keep everything understated, almost like you didn’t know Christmas was there, but it was,” Laurie says. “That was our goal for the whole design.”
At the base of the home’s elegant staircase, a live pine tree glows with twinkling lights, shining metallics, and small gold-framed family photos hung as ornaments—a holiday tradition that continues to bring joy. “Their son was home from college the day we were installing, and it was amazing to watch him unbox the frames, remembering things and laughing,” Laurie recalls. “They’re just a really great family, and they love special moments.”
To create a soft backdrop on the mantelpiece, Laurie and her client cut the garland in half and draped one piece along each side rather than doing a traditional swag across the center. Velvet ribbons drip off the edges, and fairy lights tucked among the greenery bring a faint glow to the cluster of mercury trees in the center. Hammered gold candlestick holders and gray candles draw the eye upward and complement the home’s existing color palette. “The candlesticks fit the space and scale so well,” Laurie says. “It feels like they were made for it.”
A live pine tree, cut down by one of the homeowners’ children, glows with lights, baubles, and family photos hung in gold frames. Silver dollar eucalyptus and a mix of ribbons are used in the tree and staircase garlands to give the scene a “modern and understated Southern vibe,” Laurie says.
“There are moments for decor, but then there are moments where simplicity can speak much louder.”
—Laurie Miller, The Velvet Boxwood
A wreath of mixed greenery is suspended by cream satin ribbon on the range hood. On the kitchen island, a live arrangement of fresh cedar and white orchids provides a “casual, elegant statement,” Laurie says.
A blonde pine hutch displays the client’s collection of porcelain and stoneware, as well as pieces of pottery her children have made over the years. Clusters of bottle brush trees are mixed in to “keep that subtle Christmas story going,” Laurie says.
SIMPLE & SOPHISTICATED
In the dining area, Laurie wanted to highlight gold sconces on either side of the window with bursts of green. “I just thought immediately when I saw the space that the fixtures would be gorgeous with swagged greenery over them,” she says. A vase filled with live cedar continues the story onto the table’s centerpiece.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
In the butler’s pantry, a live cedar garland tied with ribbons hangs on the window. Stems of fresh seeded willow eucalyptus maintain the greenery’s presence through the house, while the red tones of pomegranates and oxblood-colored glassware bring a “subtle bit of Christmas cheer,” Laurie says.
“It’s a soft, subtle, warm, and inviting space.”
—Laurie Miller, The Velvet Boxwood
SOFT AND SOUTHERN
Laurie says she and her client wanted to break up the strong lines and angles of the entrance by bringing “a little more of that Southern, traditional look to it.” To soften the lines, they added swag dips in the greenery garland, along with silver dollar eucalyptus “to give it more body and definition,” Laurie says. Ribbons in slate blue and cream, sugar cones, twinkling lights, and wood beads—plus Millie, the family’s pooch—round out the warm welcome.