Visions of Sugarplums

It’s hard not to feel like a kid again when you enter Kathleen and David Roth’s home at Christmastime. Each room’s décor is as special as the others but with a unique spin on the season.

These candy-adorned architectural pieces are no child’s play in the Roth household. Decorating the perfect gingerbread house is serious business here where the Roth children compete with their parents to concoct the most fantastic result. The secret lies in using a hot glue gun to keep walls upright. Photos by Jean Allsopp

Longtime Birmingham residents who had the good fortune to have their portrait taken by photographer Barbara Harbin may find these images of the Roth home vaguely familiar. The home and garden on Dell Road served as a studio for many children’s and family’s portraits. Embracing the good aura, Kathleen Roth and her family purchased it and set about creating a backdrop for their own life.

Kathleen is quick to point out that there was not much that needed to be done to make the home reflect their personal style. She selected a new color scheme, added some bookshelves, and began to fill the interiors with antiques, family pieces, and her husband’s treasured tomes. The only space that underwent a major change is her Key Circle Press studio, located adjacent to the garage.

As the holiday season approaches, Kathleen enjoys preparing the home and curating most of the rooms herself. “We love to be surrounded by things that, for one reason or another, are special to us, ” she says.

The kitchen and children’s den both have a decidedly whimsical bent and feature bright pops of color in the ornaments and décor. In the den, which was once a sun porch, a tree with huge boughs showcases the many ornaments Kathleen and David have collected over the years. For the 2015 Independent Presbyterian Homes Tour, Kathleen really let her artistic side come to life in her studio. “I wanted to have non-traditional materials as decorations, ” she says. “Since I work with paper, I thought it would be fun to decorate with it.”

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Tapping into her creativity, Kathleen built the tree using her trusty glue gun and a lot of chicken wire, poster board, and felt. It proved to be a showstopper during the 2015 Independent Presbyterian Homes Tour. With as much work as the project entailed, Kathleen counts herself lucky to be able to reuse the tree year after year.


ABOVE RIGHT The Roth’s family tree is laden with sentimental ornaments. Pick any one at random and you are sure to hear a special memory from Kathleen or David about its provenance. For the kids, Kathleen gives them a tree all their own. They fill it with strands of popcorn, brightly-colored sturdy balls, and twinkly lights. It’s the perfect place to showcase those macaroni-studded popsicle-stick pieces of art that the kids bring home from school.

ABOVE There is no need to go overboard in every room of the home. Let the well-designed décor of some rooms go unadorned. In this formal den, you get a sense for how the Roths live throughout the year. The couple added bookshelves and sconces to create an ideal space to catch up with a good book. The ship model was purchased at Christie’s Auction House as a 40th birthday present to David.

ABOVE LEFT In the South, we are blessed with gorgeous greenery at every season. Bring some of that indoors in the form of garlands and wreaths.

ABOVE Seasonal fruits like pears, crabapples, and clementines are easy to coordinate into Christmas décor. Sarah Peinhardt created this tablescape for Kathleen’s dining room table.

ABOVE LEFT Kathleen searched for a long time to find just the right tall and slender faux pine to showcase her family’s holiday cards. She loves how the cards nestle in between the narrow boughs, becoming ornaments themselves. The Cyndy Cantley-designed kitchen is flooded with light, making it the perfect backdrop for the large apothecary jars Kathleen fills with old-fashioned candies.

The paper holly garland that lines the banister to her studio was a labor of love. Having seen an idea online for the design, Kathleen created a template for the leaves and cut each one by hand. She then folded and creased the cutouts to resemble real leaves. Paper strips in bright reds wrap around forms to fashion the holly berries.

Kathleen designed the graphic tree in her studio by using a chicken wire base. She wrapped the frame in poster board for sturdiness, then covered it in felt and adorned it with a hand-cut strand of ornaments. Apprehensive about trying this DIY at home? Start with tabletop sizes before you go big. A vintage cuckoo clock purchased at Tricia’s Treasures was a dark black forest hue before Kathleen had the clever idea of having it custom lacquered. Originally destined for her daughter’s bedroom, the clock has found its forever home here in the studio, where the cheery yellow certainly sets the mood for the day.

Letterpress studio: architect: Taylor P. Davis, AIA • 205.623.5236 Construction: Day Star Construction • 205.591.0751 Structural engineer: Lowell Christy, Christy-Cobb Inc. • 205.933.1080 Kitchen: interior designer: Cindy Cantley, Cantley & Company • 205.324.2400 antique Turkish Kilim runner: Paige Albright Orientals • 205.877.3232 Island color: Benjamin Moore: pilgrim haze Window trim color: Benjamin Moore: eclipse Formal den: ship model: Christie’s Auction house Wall paint: Benjamin Moore: Ashley Gray Breakfast room: light fixture: Stray Dog Designs • 866.478.7297 Foyer: antique Oushak rug: Paige Albright Orientals vintage chair: L. Hitchcock • 860.738.9958

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