A homeowner approaches traditional decorating with an unexpected twist.
Visit Shelley Hudson’s home in December and her personality instantly shines through. On an entryway wall, a large mirror in a seashell frame reflects the small Christmas tree displayed on a side table. The tree holds a banner reading “bonjour” as it rests on the garland-draped table, its branches covered in sea beads and mercury-glass ornaments. “I really love going over the top for Christmas,” Shelley says.
When she and her husband, Marty, were looking for a new home more than a decade ago, they chose an estate near the beach replete with character. Suburban yet unique, its architecture had an aged appearance yet was flooded with light. It also had another great quality—it was only two blocks from where they already lived. “We really loved the neighborhood,” Shelley says. “It’s within walking distance of the beach, and we could still invite friends over.”
Every year, Shelley and her girlfriends celebrate the holidays in the same way, with something simple and sweet: a cookie exchange. Everyone brings their assorted batches in packs of four, charmingly wrapped and ready to eat. As a special pairing to the treats, Shelley sets up champagne, the glasses rimmed with elegant pink sugar crystals. “We try not to eat it all at the party,” she says. “That way, nobody gets sick, and everyone can bring home something from everyone. Sometimes, though, we just can’t resist.”
With a bevy of garlands, candles and ornaments, the Hudson house is an epicenter of holiday couture. The altered wooden ceilings add a hint of aged Christmas aesthetic, as do Shelley’s decorative tastes. “Burlap is great for holiday decorating; I love that it’s rustic. I love the texture that it adds, and I love that it doesn’t add too much wacky color,” she says. “For countertops, too, I buy pounds and pounds of nuts in the shell. They are lovely, natural objects. Last year, I bought so many red pecans and used them everywhere. Aesthetically, I really like them, and the shells are wintry and natural in shape and color.”
A key theme during Christmas time is trees, and Shelley does not shy away. “I don’t feel the need to buy a 7-foot tree,” she says, “but I love to utilize the trees for design. I put my tall tree on top of a farm table and put tiny tables underneath it. It really makes a beautiful display for gifts. I also add my ornaments liberally. I love those little mercury-glass ornaments, and my favorites are some of the bird ones with real feathers. I also have some glittery butterflies from A Summer Place in Manhattan Beach, California, that I love.”
When it comes to the holiday season, decorating can become an overwhelming and oftentimes difficult task. But at the end of the day, the Hudson residence shines with spirit. “Everything festive inspires me,” Shelley says.
By Emelie Battaglia
Photography by Mark Tanner
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel