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.
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.