Fresh, Fun Christmas in a Renewed Space

Creve Coeur couple trades empty nest for heart full of innovative winter interior design. 

By Julie Brown Patton

Interior Design: Fratt & Busch Homes

Builder: R.G. Apel

Photography by Anne Matheis


When Creve Coeur residents and recent empty nesters Kathleen and Brian Lovett decided in 2022 to curate “whimsical season décor with less-restrained nods to Christmas and purposeful homage to winter,” Kathleen admits they debated how far to take a fresh, casual concept for such an established holiday.

    “We’d just finished renovating the house’s first floor before the Christmas season, and wanted to create a fun, warm look within our new space,” recalls Kathleen. “But we also wanted to do something festive that logically transitioned beyond Christmas because we planned to host a New Year’s Eve party.”

    Their novel, vibrant holiday ambiance, anchored by more customary, majestic gold hues, was achieved with the assistance of interior designer Deirdre (Dede) Fratt, principal of Fratt & Bush Home in St. Louis. The final decoration results were a huge hit with attendees of the 2022 St. Louis Homes + Lifestyles and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital Guild ticketed, self-guided tour of four beautifully decorated homes for the holidays to raise money for children cared for by the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon medical team.

    The Lovetts’ pops of surprising Yuletide colors essentially took last year’s Cardinal Glennon ‘Deck the Halls’ tour to a new level. “For something different, we wanted to get away from just a red and green scheme, and Dede helped tremendously in creating and executing a joyful, shiny vision. At times, it did feel like a mad-dash scramble, but we were still grateful for where we ended up,” Kathleen says. “I think we arrived at an elegant look that was out of the box, but was still like a new interpretation of a classic Christmas story,” Dede suggests, indicating she drew some color inspiration from timeless blue and green wallpaper already in the home.

    Dede says she believes it’s imperative for home interior design results to reflect personalities of the owners. “In the case of the Lovetts, the holiday décor mirrored who they truly are as a nice, warm family.”

When entering the home, visitors immediately were set at ease with a rustic yet contemporary trail of pinecone-mingled garland winding up the curved staircase, accentuated by periodic gold and white ribbons to match light-colored walls for a clean, chic first impression. Shaggy trees, a bowl of pinecones and a small, white nativity scene graced the entryway table.

    The home also was donned with special table settings assembled by and rented from Set With Grace tablescape designs, which featured nontraditional pastel-colored flowers, pomegranates, oranges and pears, making colorful shades sprinkled over a two-toned green and white plaid table cloth. In addition to being colorfully jolly, oranges have multiple reasons for being part of Christmas: oranges in stockings stem from the generosity of Saint Nicholas (also known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and Old Saint Nick). Oranges were given as treats during the Great Depression, and, in some cultures, oranges are considered lucky and a gift for wishing good fortune to recipients.

    Atop the Lovetts’ dining table, plates with gold stars, golden flatware, a white bowl of pink-wrapped candies to match the floral arrangement and jewel-green boxes of decadent chocolates greeted diners, completing a room of hospitality.

    Bloomin' Buckets fashioned the floral decorations, which included soft pink, coral and subtle pumpkin-orange roses. Sprigs of greenery were placed throughout. “Roses are unusual for that time of year, and we wanted them to be unexpected. Those on the guided tour said they wouldn’t have thought of it, which made me happy, given that we were going for ‘not a literal’ Christmas,” Kathleen explains.

    “Even though our house is considered an open floor plan by most, after being in it for 20-plus years, we realized we needed our home to function differently for our new lifestyle,” says Kathleen, who works as a real estate agent of the Lovett Donovan Team for Janet McAfee Real Estate.

    During the renovation, she says the kitchen became twice as large, and is very much a part of overall action. So, they wanted the new light, bright kitchen space to be amply decorated as well. That look was achieved by tying white and gold ribbons on the ceiling lights, and decorating with plentiful greenery, reindeer, a sleigh, birch trees and a snowman. The greenery and certain furnishing accents were secured from Marketplace at The Abbey in Manchester.

    Kathleen says she grew up with traditional, cherry-red and evergreen seasonal decorations, including silver tinsel. “My mother loved Christmas, and it was her highlight of the year. Many of the ornaments on her tree were handmade, and all of them had super-special meanings.”

    She says the tradition she and Brian follow with their own two daughters is to pull out a box of ornaments and take walks down memory lane via discussions of the ornaments’ origins, reliving nostalgic times.

    In 2022, the Lovetts struck a compromise by decorating one tree and fireplace with traditional hues, but the other tree and mantel with a new vibe that was coastal and airy. “I’d never done ribbons for treetops before. Typically, my Old-World Santa topped the tree,” adds Kathleen.

    During the house’s renovation, she says they closed off their hearth room, making it a cozy bar area. There, for last year’s holiday decorating, they applied red and green accents and napkins, garland with lights, and a white birch tree decorated with liquor-inspired ornaments, all overseen by a special Nutcracker associated with Brian’s mother. “I love that time of year because it’s family-oriented and brings out the best in people,” says the certified relocation specialist willing to take a few bold risks for what’s often considered a vintage-rich holiday.

    Reactions to the Lovetts’ merry Christmas décor during 2022 were indeed positive, affirms Kathleen. “We heard a lot of wows. Honestly, the end result didn’t reflect your grandmother’s or your mother’s Christmas, but we still wanted to fill our home with that same type of welcoming warmth that pulled people together and made them feel comforted.”