Making Merry

ABOVE Because of the temperate climate and covered porch with fireplace, the homeowners enjoy outdoor living year-round. Here, Leah draped a full-cedar garland and trimmed the ends with Redwood pinecones to resemble tassles. When not lit with a fire, the firebox brims with off-white pillar candles and fir boughs.

“There is so much fun in watching a home get its party dress on!” says floral and event designer Leah Hazzard. Leah and her team at 3 Graces Design are real pros when it comes to dressing a home or space for life’s big events—from weddings to golden anniversaries. But for Leah, Christmas tops the list. “My favorite thing to do is to get someone’s home ready for the holidays, ” she says. 

For more than 14 years, Leah has been decorating one family’s Mountain Brook home for special occasions. “I have decorated this house for christenings, birthdays, and dinner parties—but the Christmas decorating has remained my favorite.” Over the years, she has watched the family—including three boys—grow. “It has been such a lovely pleasure to see the children grow up, ” Leah says. “We started out decorating even the boys’ rooms with heirloom Christmas bears, fir boughs, and such. Now, of course, the boys are teenagers and their rooms are definitely off limits!” 

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Designed by architect James Carter and interior designer Jane Hawkins Hoke, Leah says, “The home serves as a backdrop for entertaining guests, but most importantly, it functions as a comfortable, elegant environment for this family and their extended family when they gather for holiday celebrations.” 


ABOVE LEFT A garland of magnolia, boxwood, and cedar follows the limestone arch that defines the front door. The wreath is crafted from the same mix of greenery and is peppered with eucalyptus pods. Felt ribbon in Christmas-red with white stitching is the same Leah has used at this home for years—a tradition and homeowner favorite. Pinecone trees from the Red Mountain Garden Club sale at Birmingham Botanical Gardens rest on boxwood wreaths and flank the doorway. 

ABOVE RIGHT “The mantel is the biggest decorating challenge in the home, ” Leah says. “The garland reaches all the way up to the very high ceiling and drapes over both sides of the mirror to create a frame around the homeowner’s beloved collection of Nutcrackers.” Chosen for the scent and drape, the garland is a doubled strand of traditional mixed Christmas greens particularly heavy in cedar. A red bow made from wired ribbon crowns the top and cascades down the garland. 

ABOVE The living room’s fireplace features an antique brass container year-round, but during the holidays the vessel overflows with greenery and forever poinsettias. “We decided to not use fresh flowers here because this fireplace is used a lot during the family’s holiday entertaining and anything we put here gets dried out really quickly, ” Leah says. The boys’ Christmas stockings hang from brass stocking holders. A pair of three-feet-tall, hand-carved, wooden cherubs holds the garland in place.


ABOVE LEFT Windows are adorned with miniature fresh boxwood wreaths hung from red-plaid ribbons. “We attach fresh lemons to make them more festive, ” Leah says. Beyond the dining space, the newel post on the back stairwell is dressed in garland and ribbon. “It is a simple, mixed green garland with red felt ribbon, ” Leah says. 

ABOVE RIGHT A handcrafted carousel is the kitchen table’s Christmas centerpiece. “It was made by one of the artisans who makes the nutcrackers displayed on the den’s mantel, ” Leah says. The intricately decorated piece sits on a base of preserved boxwood wrapped in festive red ribbon.


ABOVE LEFT The home’s main staircase is draped in a fresh cedar-and-fir-mix garland, filling the central corridor with the wonderful scent of Christmas. The greenery is the canvas for a faux-sugared fruit garland and “yards and yards of double-faced satin ribbon in muted gold and soft green, ” Leah says. Instead of cutting the garland short, the greenery extends to the floor in a sweeping gesture.

ABOVE RIGHT A boxwood wreath with Christmas bells and pinecones (opposite, bottom right) is topped with the same hand-stitched red felt ribbon used throughout the house. A thick garland of cedar is draped across the ceiling of the porte cochere. “It creates a tent-like effect that is very romantic, ” Leah says. “It’s my favorite decoration—very simple, natural, and beautiful, and all that fabulous greenery smell is right there outside the door!”

Floral designer: Leah Hazzard, 3 Graces Design LLC  205.902.3635 [email protected]; Interior designer: Jane Hawkins Hoke, Hawkins Israel • 2102 A Cahaba Rd.,  205.879.3406; Architect: James Carter  205.871.7873

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