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Home for the Holidays

With an eye for design and creative flair, decorator Carla Edgeworth sets a holiday tone that is both elegant and family-friendly.

A child-friendly Christmas tree is the focus the family room. Ornaments made by the Edgeworth children, Amelia and Charlie, decorate the boughs and a paper star crowns the tree.

A child-friendly Christmas tree is the focus the family room. Ornaments made by the Edgeworth children, Amelia and Charlie, decorate the boughs and a paper star crowns the tree.

photography by Jean Allsopp

The holidays begin with good cheer. It’s just natural to let the joy spill over into holiday décor—especially if you are decorator and creative mom, Carla Edgeworth. She and husband Alex create merry memories with children Amelia, 5, and Charlie, 4, (baby number 3 is due in January), making paper chains, ornaments, and clay pot figures for a homemade crèche.

“We have a simple, homemade Christmas,” says Carla, who recalls her own childhood holidays. “When I was little, we would make ornaments and cookies every year. My favorite memory is sitting at the kitchen island making ornaments.”

Simple and homemade is a good description of Carla’s approach to style, but don’t think that means kitsch. Quite the opposite. The Edgeworth home is open and modern, with a neutral palette and clean lines. But Carla achieves that look with imagination, do-it-yourself skills, and a happy reliance on her own taste. “I’ve always loved to ‘make and do,’” she says. “I don’t know the name or style of everything, I just know what I like.”

“I picture myself turning on the gas fire in the living room, getting my coffee and relaxing in a chaise. With the kids, I haven’t gotten there yet, but someday.” —Carla Edgeworth

Many others have found that they like what Carla likes, as well. She has a booth at Hanna Antiques to sell her finds, and has started decorating for her friends, and friends of friends.

“I buy things I love,” Carla says. “Customers started loving my things, too. Soon, people started calling me to see if I could find particular items for them.”

Martha Stewart Cement Gray coats walls, moulding, and ceiling in the dining room. With a dark backdrop, light wood furniture and fixtures are standouts.

With a degree in advertising and a background in event planning, Carla may not always know the right term for her purchases, but her eye for design leads her to great pieces that she combines in an eclectic style. “My love is unique furniture,” she says. “I love rustic and industrial things, but I also love French antiques.” Carla purchases many items just because she sees potential. Sometimes these are just artifacts or parts and pieces of broken items. “I buy things I like and then look for a way to use them. I get ideas from pictures and other places and let them blossom,” she says.

Carla’s creativity is evident throughout the house. In the dining room, she pulled together a culmination of periods and styles for a soft, sophisticated palette. A console table in the living room is topped with an ornate mirror from Alex’s mother. The concrete bowl filled with Christmas balls is actually a marble sink. “It’s always full so you don’t see the hole in the bottom,” Carla says.

Carla designed the iron-based console in the dining room {pictured, left} and above, hung a white-painted metal deer head. Blending campy style with sophistication, she surrounded it with variety of white hotel crockery. Mixing in silver heirlooms, the table displays a tea set that belonged to Carla’s grandmother.

More ingenuity shows in the living room. For seating, Carla wanted a pair of chaises longues, but the price tag on the pieces she liked were over her budget. Instead, she found secondhand wingback chairs that showed potential, had the legs cut down, then asked a carpenter to construct the “longue” part. The lot was then upholstered, and she had her chaises.

Carla’s decorating approach demonstrates that a child-friendly house can still have a sleek, sophisticated look, and that look can be achieved without a big investment. “Just about everything in my house is from a flea market, thrift store, or antiques market,” she says.

Still, she knows that the best décor is the handmade variety, created by children, imagination, and memories. “I want the children to be able to walk around the tree and find the things they made and remember,” Carla says. “Their delight will outshine any ornament.”

The living room’s unexpected layout features a pair of chaises set parallel to the painted brick fireplace. The large pillows are made from old French postal bags, found in Cashiers, North Carolina. By the hearth is a Christmas tree decorated with gold and silver mercury glass ornaments. “The ornaments have a little more formal look on an informal tree,” Carla says.

RESOURCES

living room: candelabra: Hanna Antiques Mall 2424 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.323.6036 hutch and chandelier: Scott Antique Markets 3650 and 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta • 404.361.2000 lamp: Suite Dreams 2409 Montevallo Road, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.414.1922 cowhide rug: Ikea  www.ikea.com concrete bowl: Southeastern Salvage 5421 Beacon Drive, Irondale, Alabama • 205.956.1000 dining room: chandelier, console table and deer head: Scott Antique Markets 3650 and 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta • 404.361.2000 plates on wall: BB’s Wholesale China & Glassware 2427 1st Avenue North • Birmingham, AL • 205.252.2405 plates and chargers on table: Old Time Pottery 3001 Pelham Parkway, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.663.4700 powder room: antique sconce and mirror: Three Sheets 2904 18th Street South, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.871.2337 sink: www.overstock.com family room: coffee table: Southeastern Salvage 5421 Beacon Drive, Irondale, Alabama • 205.956.1000 German pub table: Hanna Antiques Mall 2424 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, Alabama • 205.323.6036 wingback chair: Scott Antique Markets 3650 and 3850 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta • 404.361.2000

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