Family Festivities

Famliy is the focus when it comes to decorating this exquisite West County residence.

By Melissa Mauzy
Photography Anne Matheis


Still stuffed from the previous evening’s feast, a West County family spends the day following Thanksgiving decking their house in holiday décor. Cozy in their pajamas as a fire crackles in the background, it’s a family affair, says the wife, who heads the decorating duties. By the Monday following the autumn holiday, their traditional, French-country two story is transformed from everyday into a magical holiday wonderland.

Organized with an eye for design, the wife takes snapshots of each year’s décor and saves them in a special scrapbook. When it is time to decorate again, she pulls out her handy resource and knows exactly where she wants to put things. “Once you do it once and take pictures, it helps to make things go quickly,” she explains. The photos also help her tweak her looks from year to year.

Family is the focus of much of the décor. Ornaments made in school by the kids, stockings that have been hung over the chimney for decades and other special mementos mix with the traditional garland and ribbon. For the family, it is fun opening the boxes of decorations each season and finding ornaments they had forgotten about. Each year brings back a flood of happy nostalgia. Striving for a comfortable balance between homey and subtle, the decorations reflect the warmth and love of this family.

This year, they will spend their eighth Christmas in their home, which was built by St. Albans Construction and designed by Dick Busch Architects. Seeking a completely open concept, the homeowners opted to exclude a living room/great room instead, designing a large kitchen which opens to the family room.

The natural gathering place for family and friends, the kitchen is used a lot, the wife laughs. A family full of cooks, you can bet you will find several members of the family gathered around the granite island prepping an appetizer or dessert for a holiday get-together. “We built our kitchen with a second island close to the family room so guests could still be a part of the space without getting in the way of the cooking,” the homeowner says. Garland trims the range hood for a festive touch that blends with the creamy white cabinets.

Just off the kitchen is a cozy area where the homeowners enjoy casual meals or Christmas morning breakfasts. Festive red and white linens and flickering candles set the merry mood. Perfectly nestled on a serving buffet is the homeowners’ collection of Department 56 ceramic, hand-painted village houses. The houses were given to the wife each year by her mother-in-law. Soft, fluffy “snow” brings texture to the scenic village.

A set of windows in the breakfast room gives the family a scenic view of their beautiful backyard landscape and the Missouri River. The view is just too good to miss out on even in the winter months, so the family will gather up the heavy blankets, grab a mug of hot cocoa and snuggle close to the outdoor stone fireplace. The crisp smell of burning wood, the sounds of the crackling of the fire and the serene view would put any visitor in the holiday spirit.

Back inside, the family room offers access to the outdoor patio and also includes a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. Stockings are hung on the mantel, which is decked in swags of garland and topped with an exquisite wreath adorned in festive red, white and black adornments. The wife’s favorite part of the holidays? “I love our real tree,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine not having one.” SummerWinds Nursery delivers the tree the day after Thanksgiving each year. The tree is filled with fun family ornaments from over the years.

The tasteful holiday décor easily blends with the home’s elegant furnishings. A square leather ottoman provides a comfy place to put your feet up and enjoy the warmth of the fire, while built-in niches are another great place to show off décor. “This is a house you can live in,” the homeowner says. “It is comfortable.”

Comfort doesn’t mean you have to lose style. Stucco walls enhance the French country feel as do the wood beams that frame the ceiling. After seeing the idea in a home designed by an Oklahoma architect, the homeowners knew the beams would give their home a more rustic look.

When the occasion calls for more formal entertaining, the dining room fits the bill. With a bar connecting the space to the kitchen, the flow for social gatherings is easy. Positioned on an angle, the rectangular wood table seats eight. “We upholstered the chairs since we weren’t putting down an area rug,” the wife explains. Neutral side chairs mixed with red-and-gold patterned head chairs provide softness and texture against the wood floor and table. Atop the table, a long mirror reflects the shimmer and sparkle of the season. Silver-and-gold reindeer, berries and pinecones and candles ramp up the holiday décor.

The decorating isn’t just for the entertaining areas of the home. Holiday décor can be found in the hallways, bedrooms and the husband’s office, to name a few places. The family loves to be in the spirit of the season the whole month of December.

In the master suite, a glitzy tree decorated in gold complements the soft gold tone of the walls. A holly-printed pillow on the bed adds another subtle holiday touch. The wrought-iron bed frame paired with the creamy linens and black-and-white check accent pillows enhance the French country feel.

Just across the hall is the husband’s office. The space between the two rooms is festive with a collection of red candles and garland décor. In the office, stockings grace the fireplace mantel, and a bag of gifts and a toy soldier complete the décor.

Known for throwing a few holiday bashes, any guest would feel warm and welcomed in this festive French Country residence. And as the holiday season quickly approaches, the family is looking forward to another weekend together decorating, reminiscing and spending quality time together around the fire.


Builder: St. Alban's Construction, 636-458-4884
Architect: Dick Busch Architects, 636-530-7787
Christmas tree: Summerwinds Nursery, 636-227-0095