ABOVE “The kitchen is our favorite room in the house, ” Melissa says. “It is the place where my children come and go, do homework and art projects, and jump in on the cooking. It is where our King Charles Spaniel, Daisy, and our pug, Einstein, love to play.” On the kitchen’s island, a champagne box planted with lemon trees, blooming paper whites, and other natural elements fills the kitchen with the scents of the season.
In the 1924 Forest Park home she shares with her two children, interior designer Melissa Singleton approaches holiday decorating as an organic extension of her everyday décor—a masterful, collected mix she calls “refined, eclectic, elegant, and comfortable.” While her interiors are beautiful, they are not precious. “This is a house that children run in and out of, as well as our two dogs and cat, ” she says. “What you see is how we live—I have always decorated without worrying about children and pets.”
During December, Melissa harkens the Christmas season by layering natural elements—including branches and greenery she gathers herself—onto her home’s year-round design. “I want my Christmas décor to be natural and unique, not contrived, ” she says.
For the IPC Holiday Home Tour last year, Melissa mixed nature’s treasures with shiny, sparkling, personal heirlooms. Her decorations included a mix of greenery, forced narcissus bulbs, and pinecones enhanced with double-faced satin ribbon, mercury glass, and sterling silver. And instead of a traditional, perfect Christmas tree, she shopped for a more organic holiday centerpiece—a “Charlie Brown” tree that is a bit smaller in stature and with airy, imperfect branches—and wrapped it in thousands of twinkle lights.
Just as Melissa’s approach to holiday decorating is light-handed and low-key, so is her family’s traditional gathering. “On Christmas Eve we have champagne and hors d’oeuvres, including some of the recipes my grandmother used to make, such as West Indies Salad, shrimp cocktail, beef tenderloin sandwiches with horseradish sauce, and asparagus with hollandaise, ” she says. On the table, heirloom silver pieces serve classic holiday sweets such as madeleines, macarons, bonbons, palmiers, French chocolates, and marzipan fruits. Overhead, a sparkling crystal chandelier is adorned with wispy pine boughs and satin ribbons. “It a casual celebration, and it’s just our style, ” says Melissa.
ABOVE LEFT The home’s original music room creates the backdrop for Melissa’s “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree. “It is the first one like this I have ever purchased and I love the open, airy branches. Typically we have a very traditional tree with ornaments I have collected since childhood. However, I wanted to do something very different, ” she says. “There are thousands of lights on it, and I tied hand-blown glass ornaments to the branches.”
ABOVE RIGHT In the dining room, Melissa tied a festive scarf—satin-and-velvet ribbon holding a bundle of greenery—onto a favorite piece of art.
ABOVE RIGHT The butler’s pantry, located between the kitchen and dining room, is where Melissa stores her crystal, china, silver, linens, and other serving items. “There is a collection of copper cookware hanging over the window, ” she says. “I cook all the time and have taken cooking classes here as well as in France.”
66th Annual IPC Holiday House Tour
Once again, Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) and its gracious stewards are opening their homes and sanctuary to share the joy of the season with the community. From Christmas tea in the Great Hall of the church to decorations in the sanctuary and parlor to the homes on tour, IPC invites you to share the season.
Independent Presbyterian Church | 3100 Highland Avenue
Founded in 1915, the church was designed by Warren, Knight and Davis architect William Warren. The sanctuary and parlor will be decorated by IPC members, and Christmas Tea in the Great Hall will be available both days for ticket holders.
Other featured venues
Kathy and Tommy Thomson | 3121 Brookwood Road
Mary Beth and Rob Howland | 2801 Shook Hill Circle
Mary Elaine and Robert Jolly | 2805 Shook Hill Circle
Kathleen and David Roth | 3241 Dell Road
Saturday, December 12, 2015 | 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Sunday, December 13, 2015 | 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.
$30. Available in advance or at the door. Tickets go on sale beginning December 1 and can be purchased by calling the church at 205.933.1830, by visiting ipc-usa.org, or by stopping by the church reception desk during business hours. Tickets may also be purchased at the homes and at the church during the hours of the tour.
Text by Lacey Howard • Photos by Jean Allsopp