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A Very Vintage Christmas
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
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A Pella native combines touches of the past with Christmas charm in holiday style.

It’s no secret that Kristin Reimer of rural Pella loves Christmas. She also loves vintage pieces. When she puts the two together, visitors smile. Lots of visitors. Last year, when her home was on the annual Christmas Tour of Homes in Pella, 2,738 went through the home, to be exact, and she was amazed by all the positive comments.

Kristin and her husband, Devin, built their large home in the woods 11 years ago, and she has had fun with it ever since. “I’ve always enjoyed mixing pieces,” says the mother of five. “I started collecting plates, such as red transferware. Plates are so pretty and often inexpensive at shops and sales.”

Also, one time, while visiting Devin’s family in southwest Iowa, she went to the Christmas Walk in the antique-filled town of Walnut. She was looking for an antique baby buggy to push in the Tulip Time parades in May, but she got hooked on other old pieces as well. “You can go to a gift shop and pay $50 for something lovely, or you can go to a vintage store and see how far that same amount of money will go. It’s so fun.”

She really got hooked when her oldest daughter, Bailey, wanted an outdoor wedding a few years back for her marriage to Ben Van Wyk. “I shopped and shopped for old blue Ball jars and milk glass for flowers and for vintage tablecloths. It was pretty special.”

Sparkly entry

The large two-story foyer celebrates the season with sparkly large snowflakes suspended from the large iron chandelier. To the right is a lovely sitting room, just right for visiting or reading. Kristin calls it “the pretty room.” She loves colors and detail, and this room shows her skill at utilizing them. It is filled with soft red and pink fabrics and accessories to honor her birthday, Valentine’s Day. With a bay window to bring the nearby woods inside, the room is a quiet spot in a busy home.

A tall wall showcases a layered collection of vintage silver trays. (Command™ Strips do the trick.) Open shelves display books and accessories for interest. On top is a collection of small frosted trees. Christmas lights are strung across the windows.

Across the hall is the dining room, a gathering spot for Sunday lunches. Decked out for the holidays, it features brown-toned Friendly Village china from Johnson Brothers with bronze chargers and green goblets. The painted dark green table has a black and white paper runner down the middle. White roses, greenery, and white tapers in black holders make up the centerpiece. Deep gray walls contrast with white wainscoting, white ironstone platters on the wall, and a teardrop chandelier for sparkle.

Nearby, a small cabinet, minus its windows, showcases a mercury-glass tree, stacked cake plates, and books.

Busy kitchen

The large kitchen, Kristin’s favorite room, heralds “Star of Wonder, Star of Night” on a blackboard. Above the cabinetry, vintage ornaments, old bread boxes, and tinsel spikes mark the season. Visible are a soft green Jadeite cake stand and measuring bowls, and, yes, a turquoise KitchenAid mixer.

The kitchen table with its happy turquoise chairs is set with colorful Pip china from the Netherlands. Silver wreaths decorate the backs of the chairs.

Throughout the home are brightly decorated wall-mounted metal trays. “Every church kitchen had them,” says Kristin.

In the beautiful great-room numerous vintage plates are arranged on the wall over the couch. For the holidays, some have greenery around them to form wreaths. More wreath-surrounded plates in the upper windows add detail. A collection of red transferware plates hangs over the mantel. A wall of shelving units is filled with vintage bread boxes and Paden City Pottery in the American Rose pattern from the early 1900s.

An enormous real Fraser fir is the room’s centerpiece. Many of its decorations are little Putz (paper) glitter houses, popular from the 1920s to the 1950s. Nearby is a model of the Reimers’ house, made by Loren Steenhoek of Stein Stone of Pella. A large glass-door cabinet from Boat’s Furniture in Pella holds numerous lighted Christmas Village buildings.

Masterful details

On the same main level, the master bedroom in soft blue and white has a silver foil tree set in a wire garden container. More china plates form a wall grouping. For the holidays, some have silver ball ornaments attached. Even in the master bath, sparkly snowflakes add holiday trim.

The lower-level family room is where the Reimers celebrate. Mason jars tied with ribbons hold chunky peppermint candles and sprigs of greenery on the coffee table. At the bar area, where snacks are served, Scrabble boards become placemats and old-fashioned ribbon candy and vintage soda bottles, such as Bubble-Up and Nesbitt’s Orange Soda, are set.

In the center of the room a game table sports a tree made of—what else?—stacked game boxes. The largest box is on the bottom; the stack includes Scrabble, Mouse Trap, Battleship, Trouble, Clue, Scene It?, and Monopoly boxes and a cylindrical Jenga box on top. A string of old big Christmas lights adds color.

On the mantel are stacked books with large bottle-brush trees and large PCs for Pella Christian schools. Old-fashioned paper chains form garlands on the window and French door. The large family Christmas tree and gifts take center stage.

Only son, Peyton, a student at Iowa State University, has his bedroom on this level.

On the landing to the second floor an armoire has been retrofitted to become a wrapping paper station with various wraps and bolts of ribbons in numerous sizes and colors.

High school daughter Chloee’s room features a banner of vintage handkerchiefs and a turquoise Christmas tree trimmed in lawn chair and camper ornaments.

Dollhouse designs

Daughter Izabel, a third-grader, has a playful room in which two tin dollhouses form a headboard. Another tall dollhouse rests on the floor. The room for daughter Kyndal, a student at Iowa State, features two tall and slim white trees, two metal beds, and three paper parasols hung upside down for a conversation piece. A bright pink sewing table in the room with an old New Home sewing machine features colorful spools of thread and buttons in glass jars.

On the lower level is a “Get Your Jingle On” sign. Kristin has taken that to heart and has had great fun doing it. “Luckily, Devin is tolerant of it all,” she says. In fact, Devin, who owns Focus 50 Capital Management with offices in Pella and Des Moines, has encouraged Kristin with her idea to start a business to help other homeowners decorate their homes for the holidays.


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