Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Harmony and holiday traditions with the Beckners

As a loyal follower of Brenda Beckner's decorating and other adventures via the Simple Pleasures blog, it makes sense to begin this poor man's Elle Decor Corydon tour of homes at the lovely traditional she shares with husband, Mike. It was one of four homes featured Sunday during the WayCo Arts Council's Christmas tour.

As it happens, I also know Bill Gode, who built this home with his late wife, Connie. It was considered rather daring at the time, Bill recalls, because of its two-story height. Everyone else was building one-story ranches.

Years later, the Godes downsized a little and built a smaller one-story house on the same large lot, then sold their original home. It was owned and occupied by a couple of other families before Brenda and Mike bought it and, with Bill as enthusiastic cheerleader next door, began to update and redecorate.

This arrangement of greenery, a sled and a vintage little red wagon full of gift-wrapped packages welcomed visitors as we stepped onto the front porch.

Once inside the front door, a tableau (top) of vintage desk, thrift-shop typewriter, greenery and other items offered a holiday welcome. That's my jar of Brenda's homemade grape jelly on the desk. I do accept bribes, already had dropped this once by the time the  photo was taken and was taking no further chances. Poinsettias and a stair rail wrapped in greenery and lights completed the holiday decor in the foyer.

Brenda rarely, if ever, furnishes or decorates a room with items that do not have associated stories and that's certainly the case in the serene living room just off the foyer. The artwork and wall decor here and elsewhere are related primarily to family or to places the family has lived or visited and enjoyed.

There were no bright colors in the holiday decor here, instead a harmonious palate of green, golds, silvers and crystal. I liked the arrangement below, on a low table, of a German sled and a Santa, both gifts, greenery and  complementary accessories.

A holiday table, set exuberantly in red, white and green for dining, established a theme in far brighter colors for the largest area of the first floor, where dining area, family room and  kitchen flow together.

Creating this open area centered on the kitchen was a huge undertaking some years ago, during which the family moved upstairs for the duration, taking a temporary kitchen with them.

It was the sort of project that shouldn't be undertaken without meticulous planning and careful thought. Quite often, kitchens in "open plan" arrangements manage to look like random collections of appliances and cabinetry dropped into the corner of a room --- screaming for walls.

That is not at all the case here, where everything works together beautifully. The cabinetry, hand-crafted by Eli Gingrich in quartersawn oak in homage to the mission style, is both highly efficient and wonderful to look at. The countertops complement the cabinetry and a generous raised backsplash shields those enjoying a meal in the dining area or socializing in the family room from views of counter-top clutter.

The heart of home for the holidays, the family Christmas tree decked with hundreds of ornaments beside an open fire, was the attention-grabber in this part of the Beckner home.

The tree, according to Brenda, narrowly avoided becoming an open house crisis when every one of the hundreds of lights on it went dark Sunday morning. It was Mike who figured out that a fuse must have failed in the string of lights closest to the power source, searched among boxes until a replacement was found and saved the day.

Just beyond the family room, to the south, is a sun room decked out for Christmas, too. Blue is my favorite color, so this combination of upholstered chair, quilt-topped table and accessories caught my eye.

Elsewhere on the first floor, I really liked this arrangement of mirrors in the downstairs bath. A builder most likely would have proposed an expanse of mirror backing the countertop here. Brenda opted to arrange a collection of small mirrors in a manner that serves the purpose but is of considerably more interest visually.

Heading upstairs, we were greeted by Jerry Castor --- family friend and Brenda's quilt and needlework guru. She was responsible for creating the beautiful quilts displayed in the bedrooms.

This quilt in a guest bedroom was my favorite. Copper was a dominant color in this room's  holiday accessories and combined with the colors in the quilt, golds and other greens to pull in all together into an harmonious whole.

I liked the small tree on the bedside table.

And my friend Mary Ellen, who had joined us at the Beckner home, fell in love with this idea for decorating a ceiling fixture and declared that she was going to go home and do exactly the same thing to a similar fixture at her house.

Note: I see that Brenda already is posting a more detailed tour of the Beckner home at Christmas, so go to Simple Pleasures to take a look.


Brenda said...

I love reading your account of our tour. Don't stop now; you have two more rooms to cover!

After two weeks of cleaning, arranging and decorating, I spent most of Monday sitting and enjoying all the Christmas. Oh, and I moved ornaments around on the tree; I kept seeing bare spots or too many ornaments clustered together.

Thanks for all your kind words about the decor. I look forward to more coverage of Corydon's tour of homes
through your eyes and your words.

Anonymous said...

The pictures are wonderful and the "words" even nicer. Thanks for your coverage of the Corydon tour. The work that the hostesses and hosts put into their homes is certainly evident.