Janice Brown eagerly awaits the Christmas season and all that it celebrates and entails: the birth of Jesus, the gathering of family and friends in her home and the beauty and cheer of the décor. Picture crisp red-velvet ribbons, fragrant and lush greenery and jolly Santa Claus figurines basking in the incandescence of tiny white bulbs.
Janice begins decorating her Kingsford home well before Thanksgiving, helped by Cynthia Ross of CP Ross Designs. With a twinkle in her eye, Janice said the job starts “earlier and earlier” each year. That’s so the décor can be enjoyed, not fussed over, in the precious weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Janice spends that time instead doing things like decorating gingerbread houses with her fifteen grandchildren, wrapping presents and hosting holiday gatherings with her husband, Jack. “I love having extra time with my family and friends,” she said. “We look forward to any holiday, or any reason to celebrate, but Christmas especially.”
Perhaps the family’s lone holdout in holiday revelry is Nixon, Janice’s 13-year-old rescue chihuahua. Noise and big groups aren’t his favorite way to celebrate Christmas but he’s happy in Janice’s arms and greets guests with a sweet lick anyway.
One of the unique aspects of Janice’s seasonal décor is that it unobtrusively weaves into, and even highlights, her everyday style. In fact, a keen eye can spot a bit of Christmas in her home year-round. Tucked safely behind the glass of a curio cabinet, among shiny baubles from her travels, visitors will find a colorful nativity scene that she and her children painted together, long ago. Janice laughed when she reported that after so many years of displaying items – on tables, on the mantle, at her house, in her daughter’s home and amid raucous present-opening – the only casualty has been a stable donkey.
To accomplish the seamless melding of holiday and every day, she is discerning, purchasing only items she loves. While she intersperses inexpensive “fad” items to stay on trend, the bulk of her decorations are classic – fresh garland and berries, ribbon, angels, carolers and nativity scenes.
In addition to expert input from Cynthia, who has helped her decorate for the past 11 years, Janice consults literature on the subject. She laughed and held up her arms in measurement: “I have a stack of Christmas magazines that I never throw away. I probably have fifty. I look through those for ideas.” She loves to shop at Marshalls, HomeGoods and TJ Maxx because they stock Christmas inventory early in the year. “I’ve found greenery in Tuesday Morning and ribbon in Ross,” she said. Janice loves charming shops like Betty Kelly’s Gift Shop here in Fayetteville, but she is willing to travel for what she wants. A native of Clinton, North Carolina, she frequents The Atrium Florist and Gifts in downtown Clinton and she shops Jernigan’s Nursery and Trading Post in Dunn.
She describes herself as “Christmas-minded,” keeping an eye out for decorations wherever she goes, no matter the month, and thinking carefully of where she will display an item once she buys it. In fact, one of the stipulations she had when moving into her home twelve years ago was that the layout of each room must “work with Christmas.” The result is an uncomplicated but stylish touch of holiday flair in every room.
Janice’s tree is the showstopper of the living room. “The tree is 9 feet tall, but after the tree topper and star, it’s really more like 12 feet,” she said with a laugh. “The tree topper is important. You want to see it when you walk in from any angle.” Purchased at The Pilgrim in Westwood Shopping Center, Janice’s star was not meant for the top of a Christmas tree, but she and Cynthia adapted it to suit her needs.
The body of the tree is bejeweled in traditional Christopher Radko European glass ornaments, nestled among soft white lights and abundant red and green ribbon.
The mantle and fireplace in the den echo the traditional design of the tree, with red berries, fresh greenery and gold and white pillar candles. Janice incorporates a classic scene of wooden reindeer and trees to frame the fireplace. A cheerful collection of Christmas throw pillows rests welcomingly on the armchairs and sofas in the den and living room.
Janice’s kitchen chandelier is a breathtaking focal point. Cynthia’s whimsical mix of ribbon and greenery coordinates with and draws the eye up to appreciate Janice’s vibrant drapery. Pfaltzgraff Christmas dinnerware floats atop the glass pedestal table. A simple utensil organizer, dressed with coordinating ribbon and sprigs of greenery and berries, serves as a centerpiece. A jolly collection of Santas look on from an adjacent hutch.
Janice’s dining room is chic and simply appointed, with fresh flowers and tapered candles beckoning guests to the classically dressed table. “Cynthia creates some of the most beautiful arrangements,” said Janice, who purchases live flowers from Always Flowers, by Crenshaw, and attends the florist’s Christmas open house each year for new ideas. This year, the holiday open house will be 1-6 p.m. on November 12.
One of Janice’s favorite arrangements is white tulips with fresh boysenberries. She loves the tulip’s simplicity, elegance and longevity, but warned the flowers can be temperamental. “You have to be careful, because they will go crazy,” she said of tulips’ tendency to crook awkwardly toward a light source. Each night, she moves her Christmas arrangement to the foyer floor, bathing it in overhead lighting to keep the stems standing tall.
While Janice’s halls are decked long before Christmas, she waits until after Thanksgiving to trim the front door and porch of her brick federal-style home. Two artificial trees frame the door, which Janice fortifies with live greenery anchored in wet floral foam. A great trick to add realism, the interspersed greenery can be replaced throughout the holidays when it begins to dry. For live foliage, she shops the Dowless Christmas tree lot, seasonally located in Westwood, or scours her own backyard.
Traditional green wreaths with red velvet ribbon adorn each window, illuminated by spotlights at night. This year, Janice plans to suspend sparkling spheres from the trees in her front yard. Her outdoor endeavors that require a ladder will most certainly wait until after Thanksgiving, as she pointed out, “All of my helpers are at college!”
In the back yard, Janice always has a simple but aesthetically pleasing vignette visible from inside, whether it’s a plant with berries and ribbon or a Christmas garden flag.
Inside and out, all is calm and all is bright at Janice and Jack’s home, in anticipation and celebration of friends, family and the birth of Jesus.