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Celebrating Nostalgia
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
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Cheri Hill layers Christmas in a style she calls “rustic sentimental chic.”

Cheri Hill made a deal with her husband, Roger. When he retired, they would move back to Des Moines, which she loved. “His part of the bargain was that he wanted to live in a small town,” she says. “I wanted to live in Des Moines.” The couple had raised their family in Nebraska, Roger’s home state.

Their compromise worked beautifully for both sides, she explains. “We settled on Beaverdale, which is like a small town within a city. Everything he wants is close by, and he knows all the neighbors up and down the street. It’s perfect. What’s not to love about Beaverdale?” Roger, a former information technology director in Omaha, agrees.

Beaverdale brick

The couple’s last home was more contemporary in style, but they have fallen in love with their Des Moines home, built in the 1930s. Previous owners had expanded the home and put in a much larger kitchen, which the Hills appreciate.

“We love to entertain, and this house, with the bigger kitchen, plus an outdoor kitchen and bar, which Roger built, is perfect for that,” she says.

“Nostalgic” is the word Cheri uses to describe her penchant for all things Christmas. Most of her ornaments are 30-plus years old, and each has a story about where she got it, who gave it to her, or what it represents.

Nature finds

In their cozy Beaverdale brick home’s living room, the spirit of the season is mixed with good times. “The whole living room is a culmination of things we picked up, quite literally,” Cheri explains. “That might be pinecones from a trip or green branches along a roadside or shells and rocks from a beach somewhere. This room and the trims on the tree are all special because of where they came from.” The large Christmas tree shows off extra-big pinecones, birds’ nests, and birdhouses.

Architectural finds, such as an old piano leg that now serves as a candleholder, tug at the heartstrings. The room has a subtle, soothing, and understated feel.

When it comes to the dining room, Cheri, who is a self-employed sales rep for greeting cards, books, and gifts for various shops around Iowa and Nebraska, loves to layer on the glitz a bit. “I love the whole approach to vintage pieces because it reflects our warm and fuzzy roots. It’s just fun, don’t you think?”

Mixing china

On the dining table she loves to mix china pieces from her mother and great-aunt, along with her own. A festive centerpiece features mercury-glass and bottle-brush trees.

Cheri enjoys a little history mixed in with her vintage pieces, especially her Irish heritage. Meade was the family name in County Meath, and it was Maher in County Tipperary.

The kitchen, too, takes on a holiday glow with accent pieces and signs, such as ’Tis the Season for Believin.’ On the eating bar Santa plates and bright snowman mugs welcome visitors. And on the back of the bar stools are red and white Santa hats. Mason jars on the counter are filled with candy canes and peppermint hard candies.

A divided Dutch door off the kitchen leads to the sunroom/porch, which serves as a welcoming family room. For accents, bowls of shiny vintage ornaments and stockings for family members hang in the windows.

When Cheri lived in Des Moines more than 30 years ago, she worked at Wicker and the Works and remains good friends with the owner, Victoria Veiock. “The porch is compact, so we needed some furniture that would give us more seating,” Cheri says. “I went to Victoria’s and found a wonderful wicker sofa and a coffee table that has four stools that slide under it. It’s great for extra seating.”

Treasured ornaments

The tall and full Christmas tree is chock-full of Santa and nutcracker ornaments, family photos, and homemade and school-made ornaments from when now-adult kids were little. Those are the best, Cheri feels.

She calls her decorating style “rustic sentimental chic,” and it combines the best details fitting this home. “Until we moved, Roger had no idea just how much Christmas stuff I really have,” she says with a smile.

A framed piece in the porch sums up Cheri’s holiday sentiments:

Even though she was a grown woman, she believed in elves and Santa Claus and flying reindeer and sacks with an endless capacity for toys.


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