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‘A Great Christmas House’
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
HOME FEATURE December 2017/January 2018
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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Ames couple celebrates the season and remodeling in beautiful style.

Marianne Spalding of Ames loves to cook and to entertain. Especially at Christmastime. Since moving to town in the summer of 2013, she and her husband, David, have been remodeling and upgrading their space for those purposes.

The couple moved from Vermont when David became dean of the College of Business at Iowa State University. It was a bit of a homecoming for Marianne, who grew up in the Quad Cities area.

For help in achieving the upgrades, the couple turned to interior designer Mary Capobianco of Designing Women in West Des Moines. “Suku Radia, head of Bankers Trust at the time, was on the search committee for David’s position,” Marianne explains. “He recommended Mary, who had done work for him and his wife in their home.”

The Spaldings are the second owners of their English Tudor-style home and wanted to update the traditional look and also to add more color to the home. They chose nearly all new furnishings when they moved in because they left many pieces they owned in their Vermont country home while it was on the market.

Touches of red

“We try to help make people’s homes be the best reflection of themselves,” Capobianco says. She has been in the design business for 40-plus years. She came up with three color design options, and she and Marianne did lots of long-distance consulting. With her love of color, it’s not surprising that Marianne chose to add a bold touch of red to many of the public rooms.

At the beginning, the plan was to focus on the sunroom off the kitchen and on the bedrooms upstairs, including the master suite and the rooms for the Spaldings’ children, Megan, a college student, and Andrew, who lives in Boston.

Last year, after kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects were completed, the Spalding home was on the annual holiday home tour sponsored by Altrusa Club of Ames, a service organization. Marianne used many of her own holiday decorations, with help from Coe’s Florist in Ames. “We had so much fun,” Marianne says. “This really is a great Christmas house.”

Indeed. With an unexpected open plan for a Tudor and interesting surprises, such as a raised living room, the home welcomed visitors to a visual delight. A flourish of sparkly Christmas balls and red and green plaid bows and berries on evergreen swags and caroler figures on a table greeted guests in the two-story entryway by caroler figures.

Raised living room

The raised living room, up a half level, takes on a formal air with a white and gold color scheme. Two facing love seats and two wing chairs create a conversation area. A large ottoman with heavy fringe unites the area. Tall trees, greenery, and caroler dolls make a festive statement on the mantel. Holiday pillows extol the universal words of the season—Peace, Believe, Joy to the World, and Falalalala.

On the other side of the raised living room is a cozy sitting room with rich fabrics and an inviting window seat, just right for reading.

Nearby, on the ground level, is the formal dining room designed in gold and willow green. The china features a dragonfly motif. Wide ribbon forms bows on the backs of chairs. The chandelier decorated with greenery and spikes features a huge bow with streamers. The seasonal centerpiece is made from a crystal bowl filled with gold and silver balls, spikes, and pinecones for textures. White and gold tapers complete the look.

The kitchen remodel features off-white top cabinets with a gray glaze and dark gray for the bottom ones. Val Siddell of Kitchen Classics worked with Capobianco on the design. The new area has a long galley with marble flooring, which is used throughout the main floor. A large open cabinet displays holiday pieces. A low, wide desk top/buffet in front of a large window holds numerous funky reindeer and a sleigh. Large silver snowflakes hang from white ribbon in the window.

The cheery sunroom, part of the kitchen area, is made for Christmas with its red and green color scheme. The sitting area in front of oversize windows has a white sofa with red piping. Mr. and Mrs. Claus needlepoint pillows welcome seasonal visitors, and a red leather chair and a red and white houndstooth chair complement the large Christmas tree.

A round table and its French-inspired chairs in red and white plaid upholstery invite diners. Red woven place mats and knitted socks to hold silverware add festive color. Plaid ribbon around the chairs ends in big bows and greens on the chair backs.

Under the table is a red and khaki area rug with bright stylized flowers. Three kings in metal are displayed on a credenza nearby, along with a small tree with red berries.

Bedroom level

The master bedroom is a calming respite with the feel of an elegant lodge, Capobianco says. It’s complete with a fireplace and an A-frame ceiling accentuated by dark beams. A triangle-shape window over the door to a covered deck overlooking the garden repeats the shape. The design of the home gives an upscale turret look to many of the windows. A white Christmas tree has gold spikes and gold and white polka dot ribbon cascading from its top.

Nearby, the remodeled master bath puts forth a spa look, complete with a soaking tub. A chiffon swag on a large window gives a soft romantic look, and creamy custom cabinetry with marble countertops repeats the furniture look. A beautiful walk-in shower and a sparkly chandelier complete the new look designed by Capobianco. Bradshaw Renovations did the construction.

A loft area on this level has a computer table and seating for conversation or rest. An elegant gold and silver tree sets the holiday tone.

Daughter Megan’s room has a high sleigh bed with a lavender and white duvet cover. A dreamy window seat area in the turret-style window shows her love of Harry Potter. Andrew’s room welcomes him on his visits home with a masculine brown plaid duvet and textured and smooth pillows.

The lower level is the nostalgic part of the home, especially at the holidays. The children’s stockings and a tapestry sofa create a welcoming area. A grapevine tree and a full-size tree with animal ornaments tug at heartstrings. A large open cabinet from France gives a collected and European look to the room.

“We entertain a lot, and this house has great flow. As big as is it, this house really has a warm, cozy look,” Marianne says.


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