published Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Whimsical Christmas decorations liven a contemporary home

Candles, potpourri, a tree and a table runner arranged by Yessick's Design Center help bring the holiday spirit to the home of Dr. Chad and Christy Smalley.
Candles, potpourri, a tree and a table runner arranged by Yessick's Design Center help bring the holiday spirit to the home of Dr. Chad and Christy Smalley.
Photo by Alex Washburn.

Christy Smalley said she didn't want a dripping-with-Christmas look for her contemporary home on Ooltewah's Wolftever Slough.

Instead, she said, she was seeking decorative accents that provide a seasonal flair in the main downstairs kitchen/conservatory and bar/game room spaces she shares with her husband, Chad, and their 4-month-old son, Jackson.

"I like very simple and clean," Smalley said. "Southern and traditional are not my style."

With the help of Yessick's Design Center, with whom she had worked with previously, the home now is decorated for Christmas with subtle but elegant touches that don't overpower the entry, the two-story conservatory with floor-to-ceiling windows and the bar/game room that opens out to a pool and patio overlooking the water.

Smalley said designers Amy Christie and Kathie Proffitt came in, looked at what she had, noted where she wanted decorations, incorporated her ideas, added their suggestions and went to work.

"It was kind of fun," she said. "I just had to show up, and it's done."

The results, Smalley said, reflect a resourceful use of her decorations and items brought in by the designers.

The pre-lit Christmas trees she already had, for example, feature her ornaments (including ones picturing several family members), ornaments the designers brought and groupings that combine the two.

The foyer tree has burlap bows and accents that match a burlap tree skirt Smalley had.

"I never would have thought about burlap," she said.

The designers added a dark resin Nativity scene to sit on a shelf behind the tree -- "a nice touch," Smalley said -- and "fun," oversize, resin red, green and blue faux gifts beside the tree.

The bar/game room tree incorporates a light red ribbon and dark red tree skirt -- actually a blanket -- that play off the red accents in the room. The contemporary tree topper has both white features that the designers brought and red berry stems Smalley had.

Both trees are accentuated with artificial greenery brought in by the designers.

"They make [them] look more full," Smalley said.

The conservatory, which is dominated by a 10-foot by 5-foot table she designed, needed "something substantial," she said.

What the designers provided were two silver trees around which were placed artificial wreathes of green berries.

"The artificial is pretty," Smalley said. "I wanted it to last. It looks quite real."

The subtle greens in the kitchen/conservatory decorations and the reds in the bar/game room decorations complement the black, white and gray scale in which the house is designed.

Atop the gray-stained china buffet in the conservatory she also designed (complete with hidden compartments to store the table extensions) are two Dr. Seuss-esque trees with gold and silver beads and threads, a garland of artificial berries in mustard, green and white, and a bowl and clear vase, both with potpourri.

The display bowls throughout the two rooms, filled with three scents of potpourri, were selected by the designers from various wedding gifts the Smalleys were given but hadn't necessarily displayed.

One end of the oversize peninsula in the kitchen is filled with a display that includes two decorative green trees the homeowner had, two silver/white ones the designers brought, gold pine cone candles, boxes containing keepsake books to create several levels in the grouping, and artificial pine greenery.

Since the peninsula is so big, Smalley said, when Christmas is over, she may have something new created for the area.

What the professionals did, she said, "inspired me to use the space again."

In the bar/game room, a side table features, among other things, a silver metal tree with tiny silver, red and white ornaments, red candles and a bright red contemporary runner that matches one in another part of the room.

Several of the pieces, Smalley said, "I never would have picked out," but matched together they go well.

Elsewhere in the room are chair pillows, small groupings and other items that pick up the red in a contemporary wall grouping of poppies and the red in a contemporary sculpture.

Outdoors, the designers brought in artificial pine sprays for the stone entrances and an oversize wreath for an outbuilding visible from the street.

To top it off, Smalley said, Yessick's packs up the decorations after Christmas for storage until next year.

"I like what they do," she said. "They make [their design] to fit your home."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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