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Sparkle and Shine
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
HOME FEATURE December 2018/January 2019
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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Waukee home shimmers in whites and neutrals for the holidays.

When Beth and Mark Long moved back to the Des Moines area from Marion six years ago, they added a layer of lightness to the home they purchased in Waukee. “I call our home’s design transitional with a touch of farmhouse,” Beth explains. To get the lighter look they wanted, they had dark cherry kitchen cabinetry painted white. Wood shelves flanking the fireplace in the living room also took on white tones.

In like manner, their holiday decorations add a fresh and airy layer of holiday fun to the home. The detail combines upscale and vintage touches. For example, silver letters over the front door set the tone—Falalalalalalalala. Big gold- and silver-wrapped packages add a joyful touch in the entry.

Birding details

Beth’s late mother knitted creamy white stockings, all in different patterns, for family members. They command center stage hanging on the banister in the entry.

A subtle theme of birdhouses and a wooden bird cage in the mix honor Beth’s father, who always had feeders. “Watching birds is a family love,” Beth says. Over a tall armoire are birdhouses and another sparkly tree. Detailed snowman tassels hang on the armoire doors.

Off to one side of the entry is the dining room, all set to welcome family and friends for the holidays. Beth uses china in the Christmastime pattern by Nikko. The octagonal plates with an evergreen border carry a whimsical decorated-tree pattern. Beth’s mother-in-law and other family members had or have the same pattern, so if they need more pieces for a big crowd, they can share dining and accessory pieces.

Trees and white and gold sparkles act as the centerpiece. Cloth napkins are in gold plaid or gold polka dots.

Twinkly branches

For a light touch, Beth added twinkly tree branches in strategic spots. “They originally were used for a daughter’s winter wedding, and now they work for Christmas, too,” she explains.

Vintage glass candlesticks with white candles work as a backdrop for white bottle brush trees, along with lots of snowman ornaments. A sign extolling Peace hangs in the center of the fireplace.

A Christmas tree, decorated in mostly white ornaments, stands tall in front of an oversize window that looks out over a wooded backyard.

A tufted ottoman doubles as a coffee table and holds a tray with white branches and shiny mercury-glass ornaments. A black lantern sits beneath a glass-top side table. It and other lanterns were used for decorations at an outdoor wedding.

A two-way fireplace between the living room and a small and cozy sitting area on the kitchen side is flanked on both sides by bookshelves, perfect for displaying holiday treasures. On the living room side is the large Willow Tree nativity set. A pillow on the sofa gives the holiday weather report, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

On ornaments and signs, festive words add holiday charm: HoX3, Shining Bright, Candy Canes, Little Helpers, and Elves and Rudolph.

Whimsical setting

Under an oversize EAT sign, the kitchen table carries a whimsical theme with a large snowman in the center place of honor. Christmas lights play off the bold and bright colors of Fiestaware dishes, placed on black-and-white checked or polka dot chargers. Large white pom-pom balls on a string look like snowballs, perfect, of course, because they won’t melt.

While the home’s main floor is subtle, with lots of white and neutral furnishings and holiday trims, the lower level takes on a colorful vibe. “It’s where we hang out, especially when the grandchildren visit,” Beth says.

Bright and bold colors reign supreme. Colorful plaques from local artists at Sticks add bright tones, as does a small decorated tree with lights in primary colors. Big glass jars hold colorful toys and treasures.

The whole area is meant to be fun and bright. It’s very colorful and kid-friendly. Even the shower curtain in the bathroom is an explosion of color, detailed with old-fashioned Christmas tree bulbs.

The Longs formerly lived around the state, in Cedar Falls, Des Moines, and the Cedar Rapids area with Mark’s career as a banker. He grew up in Des Moines, and Beth, a former elementary teacher, is from northwest Iowa. They have two daughters, one here and one in Dallas, and four grandchildren.


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