Native New Englanders discover a bit of East Coast architecture in their Washington- state home, where they’ve created the perfect backdrop for a real country Christmas.
As dyed-in-the- wool native New Englanders transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, Kristen and Troy Barrows say it felt like Christmas the day Kristen learned of a country shop located in an authentic New England–style saltbox tucked into a wooded glen not far from their Bonney Lake home. The real gift, though, arrived the day Troy convinced the original owners that if they sold the home to the Barrowses (at less than the asking price), their passion for its architectural style would ensure that the legacy would be carried on.
When Troy called Kristen to say, “By the way, we just bought the saltbox,” she burst into tears. Now, each Christmas, Kristen celebrates their promised stewardship by decking the saltbox inside and out with authentic holiday decor, including many handmade Santas and snowmen from local folk artists.
“Every year, I try to do things differently from the year before,” Kristen says. “Otherwise, I’d get bored!” Case in point: For this holiday season, Kristen moved the Christmas tree away from its traditional spot in front of two windows and placed it alongside a handsome dry sink, which also
doubles as a hidden cabinet for the TV. In the open space between the windows, Kristen set up a snowman grouping atop a small black table.
Although she mixes up her pieces, Kristen does stick to the Colonial look that she loves. Holiday decorations are simple, such as a long woolen stocking filled with greens draped over a ladder-back chair, or wooden block letters that spell out “Believe” on her mantel, or even the punched-tin star that tops her tree.
A recent culling of decor helped Kristen to organize and store her favorite Christmas items in decorative boxes that double as year-round decor. “No one would even know they were
Each Christmas, Kristen celebrates their promised stewardship by decking the saltbox inside and out with authentic holiday decor.
there!” she says. With the reduced decorations, Kristen is able to focus on the pieces she truly loves and really highlight them. For instance, rather than dot her folk- art pieces around the house as usual, she decided to group them together in vignettes. The result is almost that of a carefully curated holiday showcase.
Outside, fresh greens and bows add festivity to a light post, fence and even a bike. One
outdoor decoration Kristen has no trouble doing herself is trimming the exterior windows with fresh wreaths—no ladders or “Honey Do Lists” needed for this task. Kristen simply opens the double-hung windows from inside and reaches out to place the ribbon-bedecked wreaths on plastic hooks securely attached to the window frames. No Pacific Northwest windstorm will pull these wreaths down!
“Every year, I try to do things differently from the year before. Otherwise, I’d get bored!”
BELOW Embrace minimalism to transform your shelves into a striking display area. Limit your items to similar shapes and sizes, such as colorful firkins and boxes trimmed with greenery and Christmas accents. A single poinsettia in a round box nearby completes the look.
RIGHT Kristen and Troy Barrows carry precious cargo—this year’s noble fir Christmas tree—on Troy’s 1967 Chevy Malibu.
LEFT The couple’s New England– style saltbox is all decked out for the holidays with fresh wreaths affixed to each window.
ABOVE Dress up year-round cupboard decor with an artfully placed Santa or two. Feather trees make tidy table decor, trimmed here with vintage glass ornaments.
LEFT Balance your decor with strong anchors such as the Christmas tree at right and the oversize star at left. Wreath-adorned windows are eye-catching visuals that flank a glowing snowman vignette set on a table.
RIGHT A simple, organic display of gathered pinecones, fresh evergreen sprigs and a welcoming pineapple pops against a red-and-white checked runner on the black coffee table.
ABOVE This distinctive Santa draws the eye to the redware-filled cabinet, thanks to the similar tones of the primitive fabrics.
ABOVE In the sitting room, Kristen offsets her dark furnishings with a gaggle of white snowmen in various styles, sizes and shapes. Lawrence the dog sports the colors to fit right in.
RIGHT Create a whimsical vignette with a bevy of folk-art characters and a themed print atop a patterned textile. Place flameless tapers throughout to light the scene.
Carry through a theme in a zigzag fashion to draw the eye up and across your decor. Here, a floor candle, door-hanger candle and vintage metal candleholders counter both Santa and snowman groupings.
ABOVE Keep your kitchen counters free for cooking with simple Christmas statements—a favorite Santa, a snow lady or a basket full of resin candy canes with fresh greens.
BELOW The Colonial brick fireplace gets decorated with both soft accents and antique tools. Folk-art Santas propped in various boxes and baskets add height and dimension to the mantel.
RIGHT A local furniture maker’s dry sink/shelf ties to the barn-red front door. A folk-art reindeer grazes amidst feather trees. Dashes of black found in the signage, crow, Colonial-style lamp shade and decorative box lids give visual punch to the vignette.
ABOVE Brighten a staircase corner with contrasting decor such as a tabletop tree in a large basket set atop a chair. The vintage white washboard trimmed with red mittens pops against a black trencher leaning against the wall.
RIGHT These wooden ice skates look like someone just came in from enjoying some fresh winter air on a frozen pond.