An empty nester redesigns her home’s kitchen to be fit for the bustle of holiday entertaining
At Home in Arkansas: We hear you are always on the go—how do you spend the holidays?
Homeowner Julie Roetzel: We’ll travel any time of the year—except Christmas! Around this time, our favorite thing is to stay home and entertain. We love hosting gatherings with our three grown daughters and their families as well as extended family members and friends throughout the season.
I bet they all look forward to seeing you and to your cooking.
Yes, it wouldn’t be Christmas without my big urn of hot apple cider as well as my “famous” cheese ball snack. And don’t forget the wreath cookies, which I’ve been making for years. Now that I have grandchildren, I like to have an assortment of treats for snacks throughout the day. But that doesn’t mean I skimp on the meals. On Christmas morning I always serve monkey bread, a large breakfast casserole and fresh fruit. But Christmas evening isn’t always so traditional. We’ve had everything from Italian food to brisket with cheesy potatoes. I love to shake it up as long as it’s served on a festive table.
Do you have Christmas china you use for the season?
I love Christmas dishes! In my collection, I have Spode and Vietri (including a signed piece from the artist himself). My antique and new Santa mugs are dear to me, as well as my most treasured set of small plates passed down from my mother. It’s old mixed with new.
So, it sounds like creating the meals are a big part of your celebration. We hear you remodeled your kitchen recently. Has the new look made cooking all the more enjoyable?
Yes, definitely. We previously had a dark French country feel that I wanted to lighten up. We updated our distressed cabinets by painting them white and adding a new modern backsplash to create a brighter, more open environment. We also added a beverage pantry with antique doors and painted them a more contemporary shade of grey.
What about the bar area and the keeping room? How do you use these spaces during the holidays?
Everyone likes to gather in the kitchen when they arrive, which can get crowded. Having two extra entertaining areas makes it more inviting for them to catch up with one another while I prepare dinner. They can relax with appetizers and beverages in a more casual setting, and the bar offers a great spot to serve drinks without interfering with kitchen flow.
The grandkids, on the other hand, love to snack at the lowered area at the end of the island. My husband, Mike, and I actually eat here most nights as well. It’s perfect for dinner for two.
What are your other family traditions?
We have made new traditions, as two of our three daughters are married with children of their own. When all of the girls are in town, we go to the Fayetteville Town Square for The Lights of the Ozarks. Plus, my husband and I take our grandchildren for a ride around the square in Cinderella’s horse drawn carriage. They love it!
Attending the Christmas Eve service at church is one of our most meaningful traditions, and we return home afterward for heavy hors d’oeuvres and a gift exchange. I always give my daughters new pajamas on Christmas Eve, and they have carried on this tradition with their own families.
Contractor L & F Construction, LLC, Fayetteville, (479) 466-3352
Interior design Cara Hamilton, Hamilton House Designs, Fayetteville, 479-502-0688
Accessories French Metro, Fayetteville, (479) 587-0804, frenchmetro.com, Sarah Kathryn’s, Fayetteville, (479) 444-9991
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 771-1840, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Doors—pantry The Gift House, Fayetteville, (479) 521-4334
Furniture French Metro, Fayetteville, (479) 587-0804, frenchmetro.com, French Quarters, Fayetteville, (479) 443-3355, french-quarters.com, Lighting Emporium, Springdale, (479) 751-8184, lightingemporium.com
Flooring—refinishing John Dramis, Dramis Hardwood Floors, Fayetteville, (479) 442-9015, dramishardwoodfloors.com
Lighting Lighting Emporium, Springdale, (479) 751-8184, lightingemporium.com