South­ern Charm

A shopowner and blog­ger cre­ates an un­ex­pected farm­house vibe in her Alabama Gulf Coast ranch home, for the hol­i­days and ev­ery day.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

A shopowner and blog­ger cel­e­brates with farm­house style in her coastal Alabama abode.

New and heir­loom or­na­ments em­bel­lish the flocked tree in Linda and Jack Sikes’ liv­ing room, all keep­ing to Linda’s hues of white, sil­ver and gold. Up­hol­stery web­bing is used in place of rib­bon, and even the pack­ages carry out the theme. A stack of suit­cases serves as a side ta­ble, topped with a tray filled with vin­tagestyle seltzer bot­tles.

Linda Sikes’ love of dec­o­rat­ing be­gan at a very young age. When she was 5, her fa­ther built a play­house for her and her sis­ter, Jean, 8—the two youngest of his five chil­dren. “I would sneak my mother’s home mag­a­zines out to the play­house and imag­ine what I could do with the space,” Linda fondly re­calls.

To­day, she and her hus­band, Jack, are the proud—and only sec­ond—own­ers of a ranch home in Mo­bile, Alabama. When the cou­ple pur­chased the prop­erty in 1996, an 800-square-foot cot­tage (at­tached to the home by a large screened-in porch) was the main at­trac­tion. With two young daugh­ters of her own, and af­fec­tion­ate mem­o­ries of that child­hood play­house, Linda knew the lit­tle cot­tage would make a per­fect play space.

Af­ter mov­ing in, Linda dec­o­rated the ranch with vin­tage farm­house flair. Al­though her style changed a bit over the en­su­ing decades, she’s cir­cled back to the farm­house look, this time ren­dered in a neu­tral palette. Through the years, she and Jack have added their own touches to the home, in­clud­ing wood floors, shiplap walls in the liv­ing room, chair rail and bead­board, new light fix­tures and more.

When her daugh­ters out­grew the cot­tage, Linda tran­si­tioned their play space into a store­house for all the ex­tra finds that weren’t yet ready to be dis­played at her Alabama Gulf Coast shop, Coastal Charm In­te­ri­ors. “Pickin’ ” trips to es­tate sales, flea mar­kets and an­tiques shops al­low her to stock up on the vin­tage farm­house items she loves. Some­times, items from her home make their way into the store.

Guests to the Sikes’ house will see plenty of well-placed sal­vaged goods, in­clud­ing wood cor­bels; shut­ters, gar­den gates and doors used as wall decor; church-pew seat­ing in the kitchen eat­ing area; and a dress form stand­ing proudly in the hall. It’s a mix of an­tiques, thrift-store dis­cov­er­ies, curb­side finds and re­pur­posed trea­sures, and as Linda says, it’s all un­ex­pected in­side “an av­er­age ranch house in the city.”

Linda also makes room for fam­ily heir­loom pieces, whether or not they match the rest of the decor, be­cause she val­ues the mem­o­ries they bring. In her home, a for­mal din­ing set that be­longed to her in-laws wel­comes fam­ily to a proper meal and a cot­ton bas­ket made by her grand­fa­ther in the 1940s stores wood near the liv­ing room fire­place.

For the hol­i­days, Linda likes to re­cast pieces for sea­sonal use, turn­ing iron­stone tureens into ves­sels for flow­ers, or­na­ments or small trees and prop­ping vin­tage suit­cases open to show­case col­lectibles. She es­pe­cially en­joys cre­at­ing unique gift wraps, in­cor­po­rat­ing vin­tage el­e­ments, such as a fur col­lar, lace doily or mono­grammed hand­ker­chief, into pack­age em­bel­lish­ments.

Linda says her hol­i­day style is al­ways evolv­ing. For ex­am­ple, a col­lec­tion used in a din­ing room dis­play one year might turn up in a bed­room vi­gnette the next—or it might spend a year in stor­age. “I love the chal­lenge of do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent than in the past. I don’t like to dec­o­rate the same way from year to year,” she adds.

She finds in­spi­ra­tion through her so­cial me­dia and blog­ging friends— Linda’s blog, Coastal Charm (http:// lin­da­coastalcharm.blogspot.com), has been ac­tive since 2009. She also chan­nels the in­flu­ence of her mother, Juanita, who passed away last year. Prior to her pass­ing, she was still dec­o­rat­ing for ev­ery sea­son. “I got my dec­o­rat­ing gene from her,” Linda ob­serves.

Like the play­house of her past, Linda’s home al­lows her imag­i­na­tion free rein, and she con­tin­u­ally de­lights in com­ing up with new ways to adorn it, whether chang­ing the paint col­ors on the walls or as­sem­bling a new hol­i­day dis­play. “I do like to play in my house; it’s just big­ger than what I had as a child,” she says.

A vin­tage mar­malade jar makes for a playful bot­tle-brush tree stand on the liv­ing room man­tel.

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