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