Simple Pleasures

A family’s home embodies the Christmas spirit of comfort and joy all year long.

Like many of the early American antiques that she collects, Mary Neher’s home has a quiet grace. Here, you won’t find ostentatious flourishes or showy ornamentals, just well-made furnishings, elegant primitive style and arrangements that highlight what Mary loves most: comfort and craftsmanship.

Photo by Mark Tanner

“It’s not a pretentious piece of property in any way, shape or form,” says Mary of her home. The Nehers have lived in their idyllic spot nestled in the rolling hills of a beachside town for 26 years. In that time, the home has gone through a cycle of changes: Half the property was sold off, leaving the Nehers with a comfortable quarter-acre; Mary has groomed the garden into a lush retreat and her husband Russ’ handiwork is found throughout the house in the kitchen cabinets, French doors in the dining room and remodeled fireplace in the master bedroom.

“I think sometimes we don’t know what our likes or dislikes are until we are exposed to them,” Mary says. “Antiques were definitely a different thing for me, and how I connected to it I can’t explain it, but when I travel back East and handle the antiques, I just feel at home.” That exposure to fine colonial craftsmanship and traditional wares brought her more in tune with her sensibilities. When she set out to make over her look, she decided to put a few English oak pieces for sale at a consignment shop to earn money to buy antique pine furniture she had her eye on. With the help of the shop owner, she priced the items and, to her surprise, quickly sold them. Thus, a new career was born, and as Mary slowly began crafting her new décor she sold the old to make room for the new.

Photo by Mark Tanner

The farmhouse table paired with an antique set of ladder-back chairs speaks to Mary’s casual style. The hutch in the background was a Brimfield find. It houses a collection of old photographs and miniature houses.

Photo by Mark Tanner

The Christmas décor is a blend of old and older. A few crafts her children made when they were young still hang on the tree next to an array of small antiques repurposed into ornaments. Miniature village houses and trees are scattered throughout and antique toys used in vignettes recall the sweet nostalgia of Christmas past.

Photo by Mark Tanner

Red Hibiscus plates by Royal Doulton, green Wedgwood and Tunstall in Regency by Staffordshire in the center comprise an eye-catching centerpiece for the room.

Let this warm, winter retreat inspire you to do the same with your home.

By Jickie Torres
Photography by Mark Tanner
Styled by Jacqueline deMontravel


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