By Barbara Schuetz
Tucked in a cul-de-sac in rural Orange County, New York, Laura Putnam’s house is a whirl of holiday season activity—decorating, tree trimming, baking and candy making. For Laura, husband Dana and their two daughters, it’s a time of celebration filled with heartwarming family traditions.
Laura, an interior designer who works from home, dishes up decorating ideas in her Finding Home blog, showcasing them with gorgeous photos taken inside her family’s contemporary colonial home. Her style mixes old with new and refined with rustic; she enjoys searching for vintage items at estate sales, yard sales, auctions and junk stores. “I’ll buy reproductions, too,” she says, adding that she loves a bargain.
Her inviting style really hits home in the updated kitchen-family room, where vintage touches seem a natural fit in the modern, open setting. It’s roomy enough for casual holiday get-togethers with neighbors, yet intimate enough for family meals and snuggling in front of the fireplace.
She adds festive splashes of seasonal color —traditional red and green in the cozy eating area and comfy family room, and subtle greens and blues in the renovated Christmas kitchen. Tying it all together are aromatic evergreens and warm woods.
In the family room, a wooden sled and an old barn door are among the found items design blogger Laura accessorizes with bells, ribbon and old bedsprings resembling metal pine trees. She blends the rustic with colorful Christmas stockings, festive throw pillows and miniature snow-covered cottages (a bargain from a home goods store).
Christmas in a box
Her kitchen table centerpiece starts with one of Laura’s favorite items, a rectangular wooden box that she changes seasonally. At Christmas, she fills it with candles, doorknobs, jingle bells, pinecones and evergreens. The table is set with Christmas plates, canning jar mugs and brown cloth napkins. For napkin rings, she simply uses olive-green burlap ribbon with a vintage leather button, glued in place and topped with a pinecone.
The table itself is a conversation piece. Dana’s father built it from pine s cut and milled on family property. “It’s a soft pine, so you can see where my daughter was learning to make Z’s,” Laura points out. Inexpensive, classic black chairs with beige twill seats complement the treasured table.
Still, “when it’s just family, we eat most of our meals at the island,” she says.
That wasn’t possible until a couple of years ago, when the couple embarked on a four-month kitchen renovation that made room for, among other things, a sit-down island.
“There was nothing wrong with our kitchen,” Laura says, “but we were ready for something that worked better for our family.” The result is what Laura calls “a farmhouse kitchen with a modern edge.”
“The biggest change we made,” she says, “was taking out the wall where the stove had been and removing the pantry and laundry room,” which added 4 feet to the length of the kitchen. One bay of the attached two-car garage was turned into a new laundry room and a much-needed mudroom.
The original island, cabinets and flooring were removed, but the couple recycled as much of the old material as possible. “We reused the cabinets in the basement and the island in the garage,” she notes. “And we built a playhouse for the girls with the wood from the wall and the window from the laundry room.”
Bright, white and homey
Design blogger Laura knew from the start that she wanted a white kitchen, and it’s as bright and refreshing as newly fallen snow—from the floor-to-ceiling hutch and painted Shaker-style cabinets to the subway-tiled backsplash and granite countertops. Even the refrigerator has a white cabinet front.
While the maple flooring and alder-wood island lend coziness, the stainless steel dishwasher, stove
and farmhouse sink give the kitchen its modern feel. The oversize stove, with its red knobs, adds a bright pop of color, too.
Laura wanted the 36-inch stove for making maple syrup, which the family does every winter with the help of about 18 to 20 people, followed by a potluck dinner.
Homey accents—an old scale, antique bowl and pitcher, and blue Ball jars—warm the kitchen’s clean, simple lines. Laura keeps her holiday touches to a minimum in this busy workspace: olive-green stars and felt ribbon, shiny green and blue ball ornaments, evergreens in white pitchers, votive candles wrapped in ribbon. The colors complement her collectible Liberty Blue and Friendly Village transferware, on display in the hutch but used every day.
It’s a cozy place where Laura and her daughters—known to her blog fans as Sunshine, 12, and Peanut, 10—can bake snowball cookies, make peppermint bark or decorate a gingerbread house, and where the whole family can enjoy a big breakfast in pajamas on Christmas morning, surrounded by the comforts of home.
Laura’s holiday decor tips
- Christmas decor doesn’t have to be elaborate—just add greens to whatever you already have.
- Dress up candleholders with felt ribbon held in place with a dot of glue. After the holidays, change the ribbon for other seasons.
- Display kids’ Christmas crafts from school on doors or windows.
- Red can be difficult to work with, so skip it and just go with green, which I consider a neutral color. Do what makes sense for your space.
Click to see Laura’s floor plan.
Design Blogger’s Christmas Kitchen Photos by Laura Putnam, Finding Home.