A Merry Mix

Ge­or­gia res­i­dents fill ev­ery room of their hol­i­day home with themed decor that re­flects their fa­vorite his­toric homes, their trav­els and fond fam­ily mem­o­ries.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

Vis­its to his­toric homes, fam­ily heirlooms and sou­venirs from their trav­els in­form the themed hol­i­day decor in this Ge­or­gia cou­ple’s home.


has fa­vorite travel des­ti­na­tions, from ski get­aways to theme parks, that evoke fond mem­o­ries of fun times spent with fam­ily. For his­tory buffs like Nancy Aber­crom­bie, how­ever, outof-town trips fo­cus on learn­ing about our na­tion’s past and gath­er­ing dec­o­rat­ing ideas, which she in­cor­po­rates into her warm and wel­com­ing Ge­or­gia home. Nancy has vis­ited Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg eight times and is a proud mem­ber of the Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg Foun­da­tion, so it’s not sur­pris­ing that the his­toric Vir­ginia vil­lage is rep­re­sented in ev­ery room—in both her year-round decor and her sea­sonal styling.

Most of Nancy’s fur­ni­ture is 18th­cen­tury ma­hogany, as she ap­pre­ci­ates the style’s beau­ti­ful for­mal­ity, but she ad­mits to warm­ing things up with the ad­di­tion of prim­i­tive coun­try wares. She and her hus­band, Dan, strive for a “work­able mix,” she notes, and the re­sults can be seen through­out the 2,000-square-foot home out­side of At­lanta that they pur­chased in 1977 and have spent more than 40 years ren­o­vat­ing.

His­tory has driven the cou­ple’s re­mod­el­ing projects as well, from in­stalling an 18th-cen­tury-style stone fire­place, raised hearth and beamed ceil­ing in the fam­ily room to in­cor­po­rat­ing a faux tin ceil­ing and glazed walls in the li­brary and a faux Colo­nial-style fire­place in the liv­ing room. They also added wood floors in some rooms and dec­o­ra­tive trim­work and paint­ing through­out the home.

Fur­nish­ings have been culled from in­her­ited an­tiques and heirlooms, many of which make their way into Nancy’s charm­ing hol­i­day vi­gnettes. “Sev­eral of them came from Dan’s grand­fa­ther’s and great-grand­fa­ther’s farms, al­low­ing me to use some very unique, truly coun­try items in my decor,” she ex­plains.

Al­though Nancy con­sid­ers Wil­liams­burg her main in­spi­ra­tion, she has bor­rowed ideas from vis­it­ing his­toric homes around the coun­try, in­clud­ing Mt. Ver­non, the Bilt­more House, and gra­cious homes in Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia, and Charleston, South Carolina. Those ex­pe­ri­ences have led to some

of her fa­vorite dec­o­rat­ing prin­ci­ples, in­clud­ing se­lect­ing a neu­tral color for large up­hol­stered items and adding color through ac­ces­sories.

Sou­venirs from the cou­ple’s trav­els of­ten fig­ure promi­nently in her ex­ten­sive hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions, which en­velop ev­ery room in the home. Nancy “of­fi­cially” starts her Christ­mas dec­o­rat­ing in early Novem­ber. Un­of­fi­cially, she en­joys plan­ning and shop­ping for the sea­son year-round. “I shop ev­ery­where,” she ad­mits. “Ev­ery place we visit, my first stop is al­ways the lo­cal Christ­mas shop.”

Over the years, Nancy has ac­cu­mu­lated thou­sands of or­na­ments, so she now seeks only the most unique pieces. She also shops thrift stores to find a va­ri­ety of dec­o­ra­tions and col­lectibles. “I have found many great items there, in­clud­ing some of the most valu­able and unique an­tique or­na­ments in my col­lec­tion,” she notes. “You just never know what you might find.”

Like­wise, Nancy can’t re­sist fes­tive finds at flea mar­kets, craft shows, junk shops, an­tiques shops and es­tate sales. “Some of the best places to find real trea­sures are on the back roads away from the tourist ar­eas,” she ad­vises. “It’s also a great place to meet peo­ple who can tell you the sto­ries and his­tory be­hind the items they are sell­ing.”

When all the sea­sonal dec­o­rat­ing is com­plete, Nancy doesn’t keep it to her­self. Fol­low­ing the tra­di­tions em­ployed at the his­toric homes the cou­ple vis­its and ad­mires, the Aber­crom­bies open their doors to fam­ily and friends and revel in cel­e­brat­ing the sea­son. “We en­joy be­ing home for the hol­i­days, en­ter­tain­ing, invit­ing guests in for treats, hav­ing our fam­ily here for Christ­mas din­ner and open­ing gifts,” Nancy says. “Christ­mas is def­i­nitely my fa­vorite time of the year.”

The li­brary boasts five trees that show­case Nancy’s more than 1,000 Hall­mark or­na­ments. Dur­ing the hol­i­days, Nancy turns a school­mas­ter’s desk built by Dan into a scene straight out of the North Pole by adding a “naughty and nice list,” a Santa suit and a pair of work boots that once be­longed to her dad.

In keep­ing with its mu­si­cal theme, the fam­ily room tree in­cludes printed sheet mu­sic for the pop­u­lar carol.

Dan built the liv­ing room’s faux fire­place so the cou­ple could use an 1860s-era man­tel that was given to them by a friend. The Colo­nial-style piece sets the tone for the room’s tra­di­tional decor, which is en­hanced by mul­ti­ple trees decked in shades of crim­son and gold.

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