Black­berry Vi­sions


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De­sign­ers Roger Hig­gins and Ann Shipp bring hol­i­day magic to a fam­ily’s re­treat in the foothills of Ten­nessee’s Smoky Moun­tains.

black­berry Farm is down­right bu­colic year-round, but as the hol­i­days ap­proach, the re­sort prop­erty—lo­cated in the foothills of Ten­nessee’s Smoky Moun­tains—is sim­ply sto­rybook en­chant­ing. “It’s so mag­i­cal here,” Nashville-based de­signer Roger Hig­gins says. “You feel like you’re in the mid­dle of nowhere, and then you see this white picket fence. The an­gels start to sing, and some­one hands you a pi­mento cheese sand­wich.”

The breath­tak­ing set­ting and South­ern hos­pi­tal­ity no doubt helped per­suade Hig­gins’ clients to build their dream hol­i­day home in th­ese rolling hills. Liv­ing in Hong Kong at the time, the home­own­ers snapped up one of the first lots sold by Black­berry Farm for pri­vate res­i­dences.

Now liv­ing in Nashville and with chil­dren in col­lege and high school, the fam­ily has es­tab­lished the re­treat as their go-to Christ­mas get­away. Hig­gins, with his wife and de­sign part­ner, Ann Shipp, was charged with the home’s in­te­rior de­sign and also with en­sur­ing that it is in top form for the fam­ily’s an­nual Yule­tide gath­er­ings.

The hol­i­day head­liner—tak­ing ad­van­tage of VIP place­ment next to the liv­ing room fire­place—is a 12-foot Dou­glas fir em­bel­lished with a col­lec­tion of or­na­ments that have been care­fully hand­picked over the years.

“They’ve been col­lect­ing or­na­ments for years, both while liv­ing here and in Hong Kong,” Shipp says. “Ev­ery year the fam­ily makes a trip to Bergdorf Good­man in New York and or­ders a slew of or­na­ments. I think there must be 1,000 on the tree by now. It takes three of us a full day to take this tree down!”

“I usu­ally be­lieve that the sim­pler the hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions, the bet­ter,” Hig­gins adds. “But this tree is the an­tithe­sis of that. It’s a piece of glittery hol­i­day art­work.”

Beau­ti­ful on the most or­di­nary of days, the liv­ing room at Christ­mas­time be­comes an ex­em­plar of hol­i­day cheer. Neu­tral wool draperies with an over­size pais­ley pat­tern frame the tow­er­ing fir. An un­fussy, tex­tu­ral sisal rug and grass shades add warmth and bal­ance to the glitzy ex­trav­a­gance. A quar­tet of pieces—a pair of

suede wing chairs, a vel­vet arm­chair, and a sub­tly pat­terned sofa—of­fer cozy seat­ing for un­wrap­ping gifts around the fire.

A sweep­ing, elab­o­rate gar­land of ilex berries, mag­no­lia, thyme, and eu­ca­lyp­tus leaves draws the eye to a clean-lined, Fed­eral-style man­tel, above which hang six paint­ings by Marc Cha­gall.

“They col­lect con­tem­po­rary art,” Hig­gins says. “The col­lec­tion makes such a won­der­ful con­trast to this ca­sual, com­fort­able moun­tain set­ting.”

In a din­ing room de­signed for fire­side feasts, a black-and-white paint­ing by Jean Dubuf­fet comes into fo­cus against the room’s com­mand­ing pal­ette, cre­at­ing a com­ple­men­tary fo­cal point to mag­netic views of Black­berry Farm’s un­du­lat­ing hills spied through a wall of win­dows. A uni­form shade of smoky-bronze-meets-deep­to­bacco (Hig­gins loves colors that can’t be de­scribed in just one word) dresses walls and trim­work, in­clud­ing the gar­land-draped fire­place man­tel. A dol­lop of white, cour­tesy of amaryl­lis paired with mag­no­lia leaves, adds hol­i­day flair.

“There were two things here that we couldn’t com­pete with: that view and the art col­lec­tion,” Hig­gins says. “I didn’t want to dis­tract from ei­ther, so we took our color cues from na­ture to cre­ate a back­ground that high­lights both.”

In the mas­ter bed­room, dis­trac­tions dis­ap­pear al­to­gether. A wool fab­ric in a smoky-gray hue is up­hol­stered on the walls and high­lighted by cream-hue wood­work and a wormy chest­nut ceil­ing. A tufted head­board, For­tuny pil­lows, and Berg­amo bed­ding elab­o­rate on a lux­u­ri­ous theme that feels equal to any four-star ho­tel yet still man­ages to re­main full-on homey.

“Black­berry Farm has an iden­tity that isn’t pol­ished and lac­quered,” Hig­gins says. “We wanted this house to re­flect that. There is a push and pull here that just feels warm and invit­ing.”

In­te­rior de­sign­ers: Roger Hig­gins & Ann Shipp

En­try A Bie­der­meier ta­ble feels right at home against lime­stone floors and steel doors. “Bie­der­meier pieces tran­si­tion well to a con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior,” de­signer Ann Shipp says. “They’re time­less and clean-lined.” Ex­te­rior The newly built in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a Ten­nessee moun­tain cabin perches on a hill­top over­look­ing Black­berry Farm’s rolling hills. Pre­ced­ing pages At the ready for chest­nut-roast­ing, out­door fur­ni­ture from Nier­mann Weeks and McK­in­non and Har­ris sur­rounds a fire­place of na­tive stone punc­tu­ated with a sim­ple fir wreath and mag­no­lia leaves.

Din­ing room A med­ley of neu­trals cre­ates a space that begs for hol­i­day gath­er­ings. An Oushak rug and Great Plains’ nubby linen on chairs amp up the cozy fac­tor. Kitchen An­tique tole lanterns, sub­way tile, and a wal­nut is­land with Cala­catta Gold coun­ter­top high­light the best of farm­house style. Myr­tle top­i­aries and a sim­ple fir wreath il­lus­trate Hig­gins’ less-is-more hol­i­day decor mantra.

Mas­ter bed­room A chan­de­lier from Nier­mann Weeks and a large French ar­moire ad­dress the wormy chest­nut ceil­ing’s lofty pro­por­tions. Valances in a Zof­fany fab­ric cam­ou­flage black­out shades. Dress­ing area A Bar­bara Barry Re­al­ized by Henre­don desk ex­udes el­e­gance against grass-cloth-clad walls. The floor is Cala­catta Gold mar­ble. Bunk room A small-scale deer print on a Ro­man shade flanked by wool flan­nel cur­tains adds a cheery touch to sleep­ing quar­ters.

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