Inside a relaxing, French Inspired Bedroom

Designer Tara Dudley combines earthy elements and beautiful furniture pieces to create the perfect, European-inspired en suite.

Give your bedroom a naturally dreamy touch with intricate mirrors and an artistic touch.
The chinoiserie draperies, mirrors and headboard all frame this room, creating a natural and dainty touch of artistry.

With earthy tones and gilded gold accents, all inspired by a great European excursion, a uniquely French inspired bedroom was born. “This space was designed for the oldest daughter of a large family, she fell in love with French style and loved the colors we chose for the room, the kind of butter and gold and light and the very, very soft lilac in the room, like almost a grayish lilac. So it was designed with her in mind, and her being inspired by a trip to Paris—so we did a lot of architectural details and large moldings, classical moldings, panel moldings, crown moldings, large base moldings and then added wall coverings.” says Tara Dudley of Tara Dudley Interiors.

She explains that the room, located in a Penthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, was most transformed by the neutrally accented color scheme, flowing woven fabrics, and various moldings that they chose to install.

This open hallway’s light color scheme gives way to the natural light beaming in from the windows.
This open hallway’s light color scheme gives way to the natural light beaming in from the windows.

Complementary Colors

Instead of neutral toned colors, the designers went for more complimentary tones in the bedroom to create balance and appeal to a classic French style.


“The color scheme is more complimentary, that pale blue and the pale butter with the gold accents compliment one another. So I think it started with knowing she likes gold rather than silver, and being that she was inspired by Paris—we wanted to have French blue as our key color,” explained Tara.

French inspired bedroom with sitting area
Tara Dudley designed the room with a relaxing sitting area.

Earthy Elements

Employing the beauty and traditional chinoiserie and faux bois elements throughout the room created a gorgeous natural and fresh feeling.“There are a lot of woven fabrics. The ottoman is a woven, textured velvet, with a leopard print design to it. The sofa is velvet, cotton velvet. the drapery fabric and the headboard fabric are woven linen chinoiserie. There’s a lot of texture on the quilts and on the pillows. On the area rug is a combination of silk and wool, so there’s a little bit of sheen,” said Tara.

An intricately designed, gold wall art acts as the focal decor piece in the hallway leading to the main bedroom.
An intricately designed, gold wall art acts as the focal decor piece in the hallway leading to the main bedroom.


“The furnishings have Louis lines to them. There are some faux bois that are gilded, the iron bed frame and the materials also have kind of a faux bois pattern on the pillow fabrics and the drapery fabrics.”

Light and fresh, the faux bois patterned draperies in this room create a clean and crisp experience.
Light and fresh, the faux bois patterned draperies in this room create a clean and crisp experience.

Ultimately, this bedroom and bathroom achieve a style all its own that is: “classic, European, and all natural.” Utilizing complementary pieces along with an earthy color palette, Tara Dudley created a warm and welcoming space that invites visitors and residents of the space in to stay a long while.

French Style Magazine Summer 2018

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of French Style Magazine. Pick up your copy today for more elegant French country inspiration!

Sharon Santoni’s French Country Home

This country home in Normandy is a garden lover's dream.

Sharon Santoni's blue barn door
The bold blue hue of the barn door pops against the aged stone walls.

The rustic charm of French country décor is a coveted look many homeowners who love the romantic style strive to create. For Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home, living in Normandy makes it all the simpler. Her house lies in a valley just an hour outside of Paris, nestled between farmland and a forest.

Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine.
Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine while Sharon’s pup plays nearby.
Sharon Santoni's garden
The garden provides an endless supply of fresh flowers.














Outdoor entertaining in Sharon Santoni's lush garden.
Lush greenery and fresh flowers create a beautiful ambiance for outdoor dining.

Her flowers, food and even the décor are all determined by the seasons. If you’ve ever wondered how you can have the French country look in your own home throughout every season, follow Sharon’s example.

French country living room with garden flowers
Peonies from Sharon’s garden add a colorful touch to the sitting room.

Pops of Garden Colors

Flowers bring a liveliness to every room. Throughout Sharon’s home, fresh blooms pop with color against white walls and porcelain pitchers, and all of the flowers come from Sharon’s own garden.

“I see my garden as a palace of colors,” Sharon says. “The only time I buy flowers is in the winter, when I can use fresh greenery from my garden, but not flowers. From early spring through the end of September, I use my own flowers in all my decorating.”

The tables of Sharon Santoni's entryway are full of flowers

Seasonal blooms stand out against her neutral backdrop of white and gray. On her dining room table, soft white linens and napkins emphasize her colorful blossoms all the more. “All of my linens are vintage or antique,” Sharon says. “I have cupboards and cupboards of linens. I love linens.” The vintage quality and embroidered hems make them simple, elegant tablecloths or napkins for any dinner party.

White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon's outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.
White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon’s outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.

Tasty Décor

It’s impossible to accomplish the French country look without including food as part of the decor. Almost every table in Sharon’s home is decorated with seasonal fruits, vegetables and homemade treats.

Plein air painting and picnic.
“I’m a messy painter,” Sharon says. I only paint in the summer because I can paint outside.” When the weather permits, she will spread a thick quilt in her garden, set up her canvas and paint away.

Although Sharon grows some of her own produce, she also purchases food from the local farmers near her property. Plus she always eats what’s in season. “We like to eat food that is in the right season,” Sharon says. “We grow some fruits and vegetables in the garden. For example, right now we’re eating a lot of strawberries. I like eating food in season because you can look forward to it as the seasons come around.”

Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth
Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth.

Aside from growing her own food, Sharon and her husband also enjoy cooking. She shares some of her favorite recipes in her book, My French Country Home, and decorates many of her tables with freshly baked tarts and scones.

Sharon Santoni's French kitchen
Food and flowers are Sharon’s decor of choice, as long as both are fresh.

“Entertaining is such a big part of everyday life here,” Sharon says. “My husband comes from a long line of great cooks, and these are my family’s personal recipes.” Adding croissants and seasonal fruits to your breakfast table next to a pitcher full of fresh blooms goes a long way toward creating the French country feel in your home.

Sharon Santoni's dog in an armchair
A home should be comfortable, according to Sharon. She is not against muddy boots in the kitchen or her dog resting on an armchair.

The Precious and the Rustic

When it comes to maintaining the French country look throughout the seasons, Sharon offers a bit of advice. Aside from using seasonal blooms and decorating her tables with vintage linens, she always suggests keeping it real. “The French country look is a mix of old and new,” Sharon says. “It can’t be too rich or precious. It has to be real. We raised four children and two dogs in our house. A little bit of shabby does no harm at all.”

French linen bed
A pretty, feminine bedspread in the guest cottage brightens up the room and makes each of Sharon’s guests feel right at home.

Also, don’t overthink it, she suggests. In the end, your home is just meant to make you feel at home. Change with the seasons, and let fresh blooms be your centerpiece for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Purchase fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market, and bake breakfast pastries or desserts to go with them.

Sharon Santoni's puts fresh flowers in the guest room as a welcoming gesture.
Fresh flowers by the bedside are a welcoming gesture toward guests, making them feel right at home.

Make the most of neutral colors such as white, off-white or gray in your napkins, tablecloths or runners to emphasize your floral centerpiece. This approach will brighten up your home and make it appear all the more welcoming. The French country lifestyle is carefree and spontaneous, and your home can be too.

Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Home

Step inside Rachel Ashwell's pretty and practical home.

Rachel Ashwell's blend of elegance and comfort is evident in her own living room.
Rachel Ashwell’s living room is every bit as comfortable as it is cozy. A colorful mix of paintings adds personality to the rough-hewn mantel.

Few homes in southern California have the architectural character or timeless appeal of older homes. If a classic style of home is at the top or your list of must-haves, you often have to search high and low for the right house.

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic blue painted closet
In an old home where built-in storage options are few, a stand-alone closet offers valuable space and fits right in with Rachel’s time-honored aesthetic.
Laurence Amelie tutu painting above Rachel Ashwell's piano
The painting above the piano is by artist Laurence Amelie. In the foreground, a Hollywood Regency style tufted bench offers extra seating.

But when Rachel Ashwell, designer and founder of Shabby Chic, stumbled across this Brentwood house eight years ago, she fell in love with its quirks and knew it would be just the place to call home.

“The architectural style is a hodgepodge,” Rachel says. “It has a bit of a Southern feel, but it also has a Spanish, an English and an Irish flair.”

In the main living room, a large brick fireplace is the focal point of the room and sets the warm, comforting tone of the rest of the home. The fireplace is so large you can walk inside of it, Rachel says, which is common in Scottish or Irish houses. “It’s actually what drew me to buy the house to begin with.”

Rachel Ashwell's dining room and kitchen
The kitchen and dining area flow from one space to the other for an open layout that is perfect for casual, convivial entertaining.

Building Character

While the home already had many exceptional details, including arched walkways, beautiful balconies, and original doors and hardware, Rachel decided to restore some of the key design aspects to a more classic style.

“As often is the case, the baths and kitchen had been renovated, but in a slick and polished style, so I restored them and put them back to what I consider would have been the authentic style for the house,” Rachel says.

Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic Kitchen
White floating shelves against white tile, along with the farmhouse sink and painted cabinets, create a cozy kitchen space.
Rachel Ashwell's hutch is covered in whimsical wallpaper and full of mismatched dishes.
One of Rachel’s favorite feminine touches, floral wallpaper, adds whimsy to this antique hutch. She stores her collection of mismatched dishes inside.

For the kitchen, she found some white subway tiles from an old Belgian subway that offer just a slight hint of sheen and contribute to the simplicity of the space. Other elements that bring her kitchen together are dainty pendants above the farmhouse sink, simple white floating shelves neatly stacked with plates, and white painted barnwood-style cabinets. “It has the illusion of a funky little kitchen, but it’s a really good, functional one.”

When Rachel moved in, walls separated the kitchen from the main living room; she opened everything up so it’s all one large space. “It feels like New York loft living, and I have a lot of guests stay here, so I wanted it to have a feeling of a lot of space and not lonely with all these closed-off rooms,” Rachel says. Now with multiple seating areas and dining and workshop areas, it’s an ideal multipurpose room for everyday use.

Rachel Ashwell's Master Bedroom
Bedding in Rachel’s signature florals adds a playful pattern to her master bedroom.

Feminine Touches

A big part of the home’s charm—and what Rachel is very well known for—are the many floral designs in fabric prints and small-scale use of wallpaper patterns you’ll find throughout the home. They add a soft and sophisticated touch in her signature Shabby Chic style.

Rachel Ashwell's master bathroom wallpaper.
Wallpaper in a lacy blue print adds a touch of elegance to the master bathroom.
Rachel Ashwell's mix-and-match floral patterns
Rachel layers this bathroom space with mix-and-match floral patterns.

“I like to do the patterned wallpaper in these little nook areas,” Rachel says. “I tend to use vintage wallpaper.  Often you can’t find a large quantity of vintage wallpaper, so that’s why it’s confined to one space, but it’s easy to do.”

Rachel Ashwell's blue and white guest bedroom
The blue and white two-tone walls perfectly coordinate with Rachel’s Simply Shabby Chic bedding.

Another design trick for bringing in soft color: Rachel paints the walls white, but from the floor to about 3 feet off the ground, she paints it over with a light gray, pink or blue for a two-tone look. “It [adds] color in an unassuming, subtle way,” she says. “They did that a lot in Morocco, and that’s where I got the idea.” These small but impactful design details give Rachel’s home its personality.

Rachel Ashwell's gold and pink settee
An antique settee with gold trim and blush pink upholstery is an elegant touch.

Flea-Market Flair

Antiques add patina and character, and Rachel looks to flea-market pieces to create the look of timeworn elegance she loves. “Nearly all the cabinets, tables and chairs are flea market-found and refurbished to the point that they’re functional and clean, but I try to hold on to the authentic patinas and textures,” Rachel says.

Rachel Ashwell's office space.
Rachel’s office is in a nook off the dining area. Though small, the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure an open atmosphere.

She also mixes in a few reproduction furniture pieces from the Rachel Ashwell Furniture collection to achieve the style, scale and function she wants. Many of her antique pieces are recovered in machine-washable fabric for durability since they’re white. Her collections of antique dishes, trays, vases and containers decorate hutches, tabletops and shelves for a cozy, charming look. All the bedding, in fabric patterns or soft hues, is romantic and vintage inspired.

What is the essence of Rachel’s decorating style? “I guess I would call myself a bit boho, but it’s also very classic. I don’t like things that go in and out of style,” Rachel says. “My mantra is ‘beauty, comfort and function.’ Everything in my house needs to be inviting and needs to be useful. That’s where I start.”

Rachel Ashwell's Living Room Mantel
The wood mantel is raw and unstained, a natural complement to the painted bricks below. Rachel as styled it with an assortment of her favorite small paintings.

4 Elements of Rachel Ashwell’s Style

Want to emulate Rachel’s signature style? Learn how with her tips.

    1. Soft color: “My palette tends to be on the softer side,” Rachel says. From various pinks and raspberries to teal, the look is fresh and inviting.
    2. Eclectic: “I like things to be eclectic but not chaotic. I might organize it or give it a theme with color. Think expensive mixed with flea market and Target.”
    3. Glamour: “I always like a little bit of glamour.” These bits of bling can be crystal chandeliers or a rug with silver threading through it.
    4. Timeworn: “Embracing the beauty of imperfections and faded grandeur is a big thing for me. I don’t get too neurotic if something gets chipped.

Read Courtney Allison’s behind-the-scenes look at this photo shoot!

A Fresh Home Makeover for a New Beginning

Turning over a new leaf in life calls for a fresh interior to match.

Kathryn Ivey used a leather loveseat to balance the room's color palette.
A low profile loveseat and slipper chairs keep the space open, as the living room flows to the dining room. “Because we were using light colors and textures, I wanted something heartier to balance it, so we used a camel leather to cover a loveseat,” Kathryn says.

Sometimes all you need for a new beginning is to start right where you’re at. Rather than move to a new place, opt for a top-to-bottom makeover and turn your house into the home you’ve always dreamed of.

Wanting a fresh start for herself and her two children after a divorce, this homeowner seized the opportunity to redesign every room in her own style. “It was a full facelift for the entire home, and her way of reflecting the new season she was entering with her kids,” says interior designer Kathryn Ivey.

The living room, though formal, does not sacrifice comfort when it comes to seating.
The chandelier features lily-of-the-valley shaped bells made of porcelain.

Leaving no detail untouched, they infused her personal style into every design decision, making over the once-ordinary home in suburban Washington, D.C. with heavy, ornate furniture into a more transitional style of home with a light and airy feminine flair.

“Along with bringing the interior up to date, she had a clear aesthetic in terms of what she enjoys, which is very feminine colors and soft textures, and she wanted it to be a relaxing space,” Kathryn says. Here are the details behind creating the soothing, cohesive look.

the homeowner loves a little bit of sparkle, so the Ceasarstone counter surfaces have a little shimmer to them, while overhead crystal pendants add glamour.

Opening up

Delicate hues of cream, white, gray and blue were key to the home’s transformation. Continuing the color scheme keeps the rooms flowing from one to the next and brings the entire design together.

Like most other family houses, the kitchen is the heart of the home and connects to the breakfast area. They elected to remove the kitchen cabinet fronts for show-off open shelving, which the homeowner loves to decorate with her colorful glassware.

With multi-functionality in mind, the breakfast room table, located between the kitchen and family room, is also a desk and a command center.

The breakfast room serves as a sort of pass-through area, but they covered the walls here in a Phillip Jeffries woven grasscloth to give it a sense of place. “It has a beautiful texture to it with blues, grays and greens in it that lead into the family room where we used Farrow & Ball Blackened paint, which is the faintest blue-gray,” Kathryn says.

A barely-there lucite side table adds to the family room’s airy atmosphere.

While the soft color palette visually expands the space, other design tricks create the light and bright feeling throughout. To bring in as much light as possible, they opted not to hide the windows behind window treatments.

With a little help from furnishings such as glass coffee tables, mirrored chests and a buffet, and transparent lucite chairs that reflect light, the clean and simple palette feels very feminine and glamorous.

A glass-front cabinet displays treasures and stores clutter
A traditional cabinet displays treasure and stores family room clutter away, while gracefully balancing the space.

Maximizing storage and space

Even in a spacious home, storage is necessary. Kathryn worked with the family to figure out how they used every space in the home—and what would make sense for storage and minimizing clutter.

They created storage to fit each space such as custom built-in cabinetry or large bookshelves. In the case of the family room, Kathryn explains, “It was a need for storage, but also a need to take up space because the rooms are so large. You have these large blank walls that need a focal point, but you’re always going to need storage.”

A light and airy master bedroom
The master bedroom perfectly combines light and airy with plush and cozy.
The reading nook is the perfect place to relax.
Reflective surfaces, like the mirrored nightstands, are a glamorous addition to the neutral bedroom.


They added a custom uphostered daybed to the master bedroom, daybed surrounded by bookshelves as a casual reading spot. “Her daughter loves to come in and hang out so we upholstered the daybed in a blush linen fabric and added a grasscloth wallpaper behind it and bookshelves as well,” Kathryn says.

Floral wallpaper makes a statement on the ceiling, while still appearing feminine and delicate.

One pretty focal point in the entire home is a space that solely belongs to mom: her master closet, which was completely designed as an elegant dressing area.

With such high ceilings, Kathryn decided to use the top perimeter of the closet to add small cabinets for storing hats and seasonal items. “If you have a lack of space, height is your friend,” Kathryn says.

The free-standing soaking tub is an elegant focal point in the master bath. The shades can be drawn for privacy, but will still allow sunshine.
Surrounded by pale pinks, creamy whites and other dreamy finishes, the vanity chair’s cheetah print cushion add a wild element of interest.

Then in the adjoining master bathroom, they created two pretty vanities with Venetian mirrors, one with a mirrored glass makeup tabletop.

“She loved the idea of white-washed wood floors, which isn’t practical for a bathroom, so we went with a porcelain floor that looked like white painted wood and it turned out absolutely beautiful,” Kathryn says.

3 Ways to Balance Comfort and Clutter:

  • Choose attractive furniture pieces you love that are also practical. For example, opt for soft furnishings that save space and are easy to clean, like upholstered ottomans and slipcovered sofas.
  • A cheerful painting in the entryway is a welcome first impression.

    Add storage to every space, no matter its size. Whether you add built-in cabinets or some sort of shelves, storage is a must. Don’t just go for utilitarian pieces; select the prettiest storage pieces you can find that become design features in a space.

  • Accessorize, but continue to cull. “The small things (throws, art and lighting) are as important as the large pieces, like the sofas, chairs and bookcases, but they add warmth and personality,” Kathryn says. “You need to always be cultivating your spaces with an edited eye and add those things that mean a lot to you,” Kathryn says.

How to Style a Romantic Vignette

Master the art of visual storytelling with beautiful displays in your home.

How to style a vignette
The differing heights of the delicate brass candlesticks provides visual interest to Courtney’s mantel-top display.

Think back to one chilly holiday afternoon in your childhood, as you gazed into the window of a downtown department store. Snow scattered on a small table, a pink-cheeked sugar plum fairy posed upon it, banked by sugared fruit and a single candle. This magical vignette spoke of many things: a famous ballet, the promise of the season, perhaps even your own dreams.

The French word, Vignette suggests a decorative flourish. It used to describe moments in a theatrical piece that illuminate a character or plot point. Now it refers to an intimate design grouping created as a pleasing focal point.

The common thread is the story element—stories told of family life, favorite things or a special celebration spring to life on a tabletop or in a room—and these little scenes never fail to captivate.

These pieces represent something meaningful and bring your home to life. People love to share decorating ideas using meaningful objects, which is why Gale Brisa started Vignette It, a Facebook page and group for styling vignettes. Here, she shares her tips for storytelling through vignettes.

Fresh flowers are consistently the feature of Courtney Allison’s vignette’s at home.

Set the Stage

Think about the favorite spots in your home—a large window with a lovely view, the corner near the table where family gathers each evening—for your vignettes. Vignettes are welcoming, so look at your foyer or front porch for possibilities.

Start with a clean slate and then decorate. Use this opportunity to reorganize and refresh this part of your home, thinning out clutter and storing the rest.

Oftentimes an attractive vignette and practical storage go hand in hand.

Main Characters

Your color choices are important and should be considered first. Whether the color is on your base (such as a runner or tablecloth), your primary piece or woven throughout the vignette, one or two spots of color always welcome the eye, says Gale.

Just remember: “In a room, the eye needs to rest,” Gale explains. Keep your large collections organized in cabinets, use a few pieces and switch them around every few months.

Vignettes thrive on color and scale, always considered and balanced. A cluster of tiny thimbles won’t register well to the eye, unless they’re gathered in old wood sewing table drawers stacked upon each other, with a few skeins of lace cascading down.

Stand back and look at the effect. Does it speak to you? Does it make you long to know the story of how these pieces came together? If so, then you’ve mastered the art.


Pretty Functional: Out of the Ordinary Storage Solutions

Have a design question? KariAnne has the answer! Get advice for incorporating attractive storage into your kitchen.

KariAnne's kitchen at Thistlewood Farms is tidy and pretty.
To integrate storage into your decor, find options that are both attractive and functional.

Q: I want to be more organized this year, but all the storage bins I find look ordinary. Can you suggest some creative ideas for containers?

You want to be organized, but you need a little inspiration to stick with it. Here are some clever ideas for stylish storage to keep everything in its place:

  1. Customize baskets spotted at yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets and dollar stores. Spray paint a number on the front, tie on a dish towel for a liner and sew a ribbon with buttons around the edge to make it your own.
  2. Add vertical storage with a peg board. Paint it to match your décor. Then, add hooks to organize your accessories. This also works for ribbon and wrapping supplies in a giftwrapping station.
  3. Maximize every inch of space with rolling drawers. Repurpose dresser or desk drawers, add casters and a handle, fill with extra linens and roll it away under the bed.


Q: My kitchen is always so messy. What are some easy tips to keep it organized?

The kitchen is where all the spoons and forks gather and show up with friends. A silverware convention can get overwhelming, especially if the drawers and cabinets are overflowing with odds and ends. Try these tips:

  1. Use your kitchenalia as decor. Display everyday dishes in a hutch or on open shelves. Stack dish towels in baskets. Group wooden spoons in an urn on the counter. Organize silverware in mason jars with chalkboard tags.
  2. Double your cabinet storage by inserting inexpensive stackable shelving.
  3. A jumbled utensil drawer solution, use adhesive to adhere a piece of cork to the inside of a cabinet door and add hooks for hanging measuring cups and spoons on the inside.
  4. Display linens in style and keep kitchen towels within easy reach by installing a towel bar to the side of a lower cabinet or kitchen island.KariAnne Wood is a home decor blogger and author of two books, So Close To Amazing and The DIY Home Planner. For more on KariAnne, visit

Send your questions to

Everyday Elegance

Personal details and elegant flourishes create a perfect balance of sophisticated and inviting.

For maximum brightness, the sunroom has a neutral palette and large windows. It is a vision in white, which is both sophisticated and casual.

Family-friendly design and luxury do not usually mix, but they cozily coexist at the home of Missy Walsh. Set on 42 acres of land in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., the 13,000-square-foot, four-story colonial, where Missy and her husband raised their three sons for the past decade, was renovated extensively to fit their family’s lifestyle.

“We took about a third of the house away and rebuilt it,” says Missy, a photographer, stylist and former interior designer, who owns the website, Love Your Perch. The process took about two years and now they have a more spacious family room, updated bathrooms and finishes, a basketball court in the basement and an office suite for her husband.

An important connector, this breezeway sits between the main house (right) and the pool house, guest houses, tennis court and garages.

For additional curb appeal, they refaced the exterior with new clapboard and raised the roof by about two feet, because the house looked a little squatty. “The pitch of the roof sat on top of the second-floor windows. With the renovation, the house got a lot wider and with the additional height, it gave it more proportion,” Missy says.

The nature-inspired custom paint color of the family room echoes the colors seen outside the window.

Personal Flair

Taking every opportunity to add her own personal touches throughout, Missy’s hand and designer eye are involved in every detail.

In the family room, walls adorned in a grassy green custom paint color Missy selected surround a bank of windows with a view of the expansive backyard, creating a serene atmosphere. “I like for the interiors to blend with the exteriors, and the windows are huge in here, so it flows better that way,” Missy says.

The focal point of the elegant dining room is this bucolic wall mural, which Missy had designed with depictions of her three sons and dog hidden in it.

Another gorgeous focal point in the home, Missy came up with the concept for the dining room wall mural and hired an artist to execute it. “We specifically asked for my three boys and dog to be hidden in the mural, so it’s very personal,” Missy says.

For a modern kitchen with a classic twist, Missy renovated her kitchen with fresh paint and new appliances.

While the kitchen had been renovated by prior owners, Missy recently revamped it with new appliances, counters, painted cabinetry and updated lighting and hardware. “We redid a little bit of everything, except for cabinets themselves—they got a facelift [with paint],” explains Missy.

Characterized by perfect symmetry, the tea room/breakfast room area centers around a formal dining set and a pretty chandelier.

Classic Appeal, Modern Livability

The home’s overall style is quite elegant, but Missy assures that it’s all designed with a busy family lifestyle in mind.

“Because we have the three boys, it’s very family-friendly,” Missy says. “The slipcovers in the family room are removable and washable. We added the basketball court, gym, volleyball court and tennis court, so it was designed with kids in mind. We also entertain a lot, and it’s a great house to entertain in.”

A view within a view, the floral window treatment and wallpaper frame the window to connect the indoors to the outside. The sophisticated library’s built-in bookshelves are beautifully curated and balance the room with the grand piano and matching crown molding.

Choosing finishes and materials wisely, Missy says, is key to keeping a home that’s equally stylish and comfortable. “Sofas get worn a lot, so I put linen on them so they could be laundered, and we have a nice mix of antiques and new. The antiques are in areas that don’t have to be used a lot. I wouldn’t want to live in a house where every single thing was new.”

Family Flair

Missy shares her tips for creating a home that’s elegant, yet family-friendly.

Old and new: For an instantly stylish look, curate a mix of antiques and vintage décor as well as newer furnishings. Combine old family heirlooms with newer mementos and accessories for modern appeal.

Durable comfort: Always keep aesthetics and function in mind. While a sofa may look beautiful, consider how its fabric will wear over the years. If you must have it, see if a slipcover will do the trick.

Bring the outdoors in: Find ways to connect the interior of the home to the exterior, not only through beautiful windows, but also by matching your décor with the natural surroundings.

Take the indoors out: Create cozy outdoor entertaining spaces by turning them into alfresco dining and living rooms with plush seating, accent pillows and beautiful decorative accessories.

The pool house is an ideal entertaining space, where Missy’s family often holds parties and gatherings. It is arranged as an outside living room with comfortable furnishings and stylish light fixtures.

A Wintery Woodland Inspired Holiday Home

Several Christmas trees, freshly scented greenery and other natural elements turn this home into a woodland wonder.

A blanket of snow creates a charming scene in Kristen Whitby's backyard.
Snow blankets Kristen’s Idaho home. With lovely wreaths hanging on the shed doors, Christmas cheer can touch about everything!

With dazzling arrays of lights and decorations, the Christmas tree is the statement piece of many a living room during the holidays. But for Kristen Whitby—blogger, stylist and interior designer behind Ella Claire Inspired—quite a few Christmas trees twinkle throughout her Idaho home.

They shimmer in her children’s playroom, the master bedroom and, of course, the family room. They even brighten the children’s bedrooms, where mini faux saplings glisten in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Here’s how Kristen decorates her home with personal flair for the holidays.

A flocked Christmas tree gives the bedroom a cozy woodland feel.
Bare wood furniture appears throughout the house, but nowhere more cozily than in the home’s master bedroom. Plush duvet covers pair well with the woodland elements. Completing the look, pictures of singing birds and faux furs help create the room’s woodland charm. Adding natural elements like these, Kristen says, makes Christmas decorating fun and simple.

Woodland Charm

Kristen’s trees offer an enchanted, woodland feel at Christmas, a look she has admired ever since she can remember. As a child, she used to visit homes illuminated with similar charms. And even though she selects faux trees for their longevity—she likes to keep her trees up somewhat beyond the new year—she prefers homey and classic elements.

The faux Christmas tree will last a long time and the fresh garland provides a lovely scent.
In her Christmas decor, Kristen choses to have the best of both worlds. Rich, fresh scent from her natural garlands and longevity from her faux trees.

“Faux trees can get too fancy sometimes, but natural elements help tone it down,” Kristen says. When first crafting her look, she was quick to juxtapose vintage mercury-glass ornaments with red berries. Kirsten says natural elements help harmonize the neutrals and whites of the family room.

“My trees evolved over the years. The red berries matched and coordinated well with my red pillows.” Tying the family room together, pops of red pepper the entire room, from the couches to the Christmas dinner display. “The feeling of Christmas is added with the color red,” she says.

Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
The kid's room features a patriotic tree
This patriotic tree glitters in the children’s playroom. Vintage accents give it a timeless charm.

Christmas Arrangements

Sprinklings of red berries also add texture to the space and charm to nearly every bough. “It’s like a giant flower arrangement,” Kristen says of her Christmas trees. Like bouquets, the trees change depending on the extra pieces added. “I like to balance the interest with different heights that change from year to year.” Even changing the ribbon can affect the feel of a tree. “Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to redecorate.”

A special tree full of children’s toys is the sweetest and most endearing in her collection. Guests always ask how she is able to keep her trees, especially this one, free from tiny hands. But Kristen insists that everyone should enjoy the festive cheer, especially her three children. “My daughter likes to decorate her own tree. Then, she’ll take it all down and redecorate it, adding new things just for fun,” she laughs.

Shelves hold boxes for storage
Kristen purchased boxes and made a few visual adjustments to get the look here. The sideboard below makes a gift wrap station.

Family Time

Kristen says everyone wanting a similar look should try to keep things simple. “I like using textures and different layers of white.” Having a neutral background, she says, is a great way to save on holiday splendor. Adding pops of color and switching things in and out can be done quite easily with her aesthetic.

Holiday porch with antique sled and chalkboard sign
Beautiful script in chalk captures the spirit of Christmas. An antique sled and upcycled cabinet door stand at attention while greeting guests at the front door.

Try to ready your home well in advance, she suggests. That way, you will have time to play around with texture and color. If you decorate your tree like you would arrange a bouquet of flowers, you will then have time to achieve the perfect Christmas arrangement, making sure the various heights are dynamic and balanced. “Use recipes and decorations that you love, but don’t overthink your holiday entertaining. Really try to enjoy the season with your friends and family.”

Accent Your Home with Rain Gear


Rainy weather brings more than puddles and mud; these gray days also provide myriad adorable accessories you can use to decorate your home. Follow the lead of these homeowners and use rain boots and chicly patterned stick umbrellas to create a stylish and functional vignette in your entryway. Add a little color by hanging brightly hued slickers and hats on coat hooks or lining a hallway with pretty printed boots. Visitors will be ooh and ahh at these fun touches, and be grateful for the loan of one of these accent pieces if they need to make a quick dash out in an unexpected storm.