When Alison Smith (@alisonsmithinteriors) was a little girl, she learned to sew. Though she grew up to become a nurse, she maintained her love of sewing and routinely made her own curtains and bedding. “When I bought my first house, I sewed all the window treatments and pillows,” she says. Friends soon began calling her to help with their houses, and decorating eventually became her full-time job.
Now married to Martin Smith and mother to three children, 18-year-old Greta, 17-year-old Henry and 13-year-old Liam, Alison decided it was time to build a family house. She enlisted architect Richard Long of Long and Long Design (@longandlongdesign) to shape her vision for a house with main-level living and an upstairs floor with kids’ bedrooms and a bunk room for their friends. “We wanted something that would stand the test of time with both traditional and modern features and some symmetry,” says Alison. Richard describes the house as a marriage of traditions. “It’s got a strong Georgian influence with some eclectic French details like the flared eaves and decorative beams over the entryway,” he says.
Though Alison now leaves the sewing to professionals, the house’s interiors are a mature expression of her design sensibility. With clean white rooms, richly textured velvet and linen fabrics, and carefully chosen antiques, the house feels like a modern iteration of a chic French farmhouse. When it was selected to be on The Samford Legacy League’s Christmas Home Tour in 2021, Alison enlisted the talents of Monica Stewart and Tracy Stephens of Posies Floral Design (@posiesfloralbham) to help her add a layer of Christmas cheer to the house in a way that would complement her elegantly restrained design. “I didn’t want a lot of fuss in the decorations,” says Alison. “No bows.”
The home’s entry establishes that sentiment. A simple boxwood wreath hangs from a loop of ribbon. Bowls of apples adorn tables among the outdoor furniture. A lush garland hangs around the doorway—not a bow in sight. It’s festive but far from ostentatious.
Just inside the house, guests are met by the parlor to the right and the dining room on the left. While the parlor is painted Sherwin-Williams Spalding Gray, the dining room is light and bright (Ballet White, Benjamin Moore) like most of the other interior rooms, A French chandelier hangs over the antique table, surrounded by antique chairs covered in a snowy cut velvet.
The floral team built a layered centerpiece of greenery and fruit with candlesticks scattered throughout. Alison’s wedding china plays perfectly with the palette of green and burnt orange. At Christmas dinner, with the candles lit and delicious aromas from food and flowers, the Smith family enjoys a very merry holiday indeed.
Fresh & Fabulous
Use fresh and natural ingredients.
Pull pinecones and greenery from your yard. Fruit that family can snack on can also serve as a decoration when you arrange it on a tray with greenery.
Add color with citrus. A bowl of oranges is seasonal and smells good.
Paint it on. For an adorable place card, write names on small leaves with a gold paint pen and pin them to a clementine. The fruit is flat on the bottom so it doesn’t roll around.
Double up. Layering is your friend when it comes to greenery. Double your garland for a lush look. Build a centerpiece with layers of fir branches, magnolia leaves, and eucalyptus sprigs for lots of texture.
Tie it together. Ribbon is a great way to add festivity, and you can reuse it every year. Wind it down a banister for an instant upgrade.
Sweet treats. Candy is a great addition to decorations at Christmas. We love the old-fashioned ribbon candy that comes in all sorts of colors.