Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography23
Part two of our walk through the 32nd Annual Homes for the Holidays tour takes us to the home of Lauren and Alex White, in Fargo’s Rocking Horse Farm development. Since design consultants, Julie Alin and Steve Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware had already worked with the Whites to choose the home’s furnishings, they joyfully volunteered their time and the store’s decor to deck the halls for Christmas and a great cause.
Welcoming the White Family to Fargo
When the Whites transferred to Fargo for their careers and left their furniture behind, they recruited the help of Alin and Johnson of SCHEELS Home & Hardware, to furnish every square-inch of their stunning home, built by T&S Custom Homes. Alin and Johnson have donated their time and talents to many homes throughout the tour, all of which were previous design clients. The Whites graciously agreed to donate their home for the tour, and the designing duo was thrilled to once again collaborate with their clients that they now call friends. Sadly, this will mark one of Alin’s last professional design projects as she is soon retiring after 24 years with SCHEELS Home & Hardware.
“It’s been awesome, I love working with Julie and Steve,” said Lauren White. “When they first came in a year ago, they did our whole house; now I consider them great friends. They are amazing at what they do.”
Making All Things Merry!
For the home’s holiday design, Alin and Johnson first met with Lauren White to discuss her color preferences. Even though the tour is catered to tour-goers, they also wanted to make sure they chose decor that would fit her preference and personal style. After the Whites had decided on a classic red and green holiday, the duo spent nearly three days assembling the decor for each of the main floor rooms. The family brought in their own 12-foot tree in the great room and Alin and Johnson got to work, hauling in holiday cheer. To fill the 2,200 square-foot main level, they would need a 17-foot cube truck and two carloads, filled to the brim with Christmas decor.
“Since the Whites chose reds and greens, which tend to be more traditional, we brought in a few more contemporary items for contrast,” said Johnson. “Even though the home has more of an open concept, with the dining room, kitchen and family room sharing the same space, we chose a coordinating, but slightly different flavor for each. The dining room is full of sparkling glitz and glam with silver and metallic accents. We kept the pops of red mainly in the kitchen and a small amount in the family room. In the master bedroom, we chose a metallic and vintage look with a pale blue and green in the ornaments.”
Vintage in the Kitchen
In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson found the perfect recipe for rustic chic, inspired by the cabinetry’s more traditional detailing. “SCHEELS Home & Hardware has an entire department of Christmas decor and we wanted to showcase as much as possible,” said Alin. “Many of the pieces were purchased at market and made up, as is, so we did a lot of layering so we could more easily create that farmhouse vintage look.”
Oh, Christmas Tree!
For the tree that would be the transition between each of the styles, Alin and Johnson chose a dash of glam to complement the rustic metals, wood tones and pops of classic red. “The birch ribbon adds a great texture, but it also lends a woodsy look while pairing it with our galvanized ornaments and adding contrast with some of Lauren’s Mercury glass ornaments,” said Johnson. “It’s nice to have the rustic base, but then have that glint of finer ornaments.” For a finished look, Alin and Johnson also added in branch sprays and red Mercury bulbs in two different sizes to give the room a hint of color.
To spruce of the family room, Alin and Johnson adorned the furnishings (all from SCHEELS Home & Hardware) with warm and cozy textures like Mongolian sheep wool, faux furs and soft, cable-knit throws.
Tips & Tricks for a Designer Christmas
[Julie Alin & Steve Johnson]
1. Design in threes. When it comes to holiday tablescape vignettes and layering, Alin suggests working in threes and making sure to allow for a high, medium and low height in items. Creating those peaks and valleys helps add interest and depth to your design.
2. Create easy, walk-by whimsy. Alin and Johnson add simple garland and sprays to everyday items like wall sconces, mirrors, door knobs, coat hooks and stair railings. “We love long garland because it can easily wrap around things like chandelier chains and then we can spruce it up with bulbs, floral, sprays, twigs or lights,” said Alin. “One of our biggest tricks of the trade is using long pipe cleaners; they’re soft, they bend easy and they don’t scratch your wood banisters or metal decor. We can pull a whole house together for Christmas with one bag of pipe cleaners.”
3. Brighten up dull displays. Complete your design and vignettes with candles, faux candles or mini LED light strings to create a warm glow. “Now you can add lights, where you couldn’t in the past,” said Johnson. “Sometimes the bulky cord of traditional string lights can ruin a look, so I love how the fine wire of the seed LED lights work so well in table arrangements – the wire itself looks like part of the design.”
4. Let the home’s craftsmanship inspire the design. In the kitchen, Alin and Johnson took note of the more traditional details like the cabinetry’s braiding and moldings to inspire the surrounding design. “The exterior has a modern farmhouse look, while the interior is more of classic, cottage-style with a twist of traditional,” said Alin. “To make this design work, we brought in a lot of things that looked like they had been collected over time, such as vintage or flea market-style finds.”
5. Go big and unbreakable. Where glass ornaments were once the only option, they have since been replaced with plastic that looks identical to glass. This allows the duo to display larger sizes without adding unneeded weight. “With bigger trees, you really do need bigger ornaments,” said Alin. “On a tree this size, it’s nice to have a mixture of small, medium and large.”
6. Transform everyday elements. Since the home already had a base of farmhouse decor, Alin and Johnson used some of the on-site items like herbs and ferns, which could easily transition to holiday decor. “We pull a lot of everyday merchandise before we even start installing the holiday decor,” said Alin. “We typically gather as many big urns, pots, tins, buckets and baskets as we can.”
7. Find your Christmas contrast. If you’re taking a rustic farmhouse approach, Alin and Johnson suggest using a variance of textures for high-contrast holiday design. Where they’ve used duller finishes like birch, galvanized metal or rustic woods, they’ve also used hints of shimmering metals, Mercury glass or sparkle.
8. Appeal to seasonal senses. Once you’ve brightened up the space with string lights, LEDs or candles, Alin suggests finishing the ambiance with Christmas music and holiday aromas to match the decor. One of her go-to scents for this time of year is Scentsy’s Fresh Cut Christmas Tree, which can also be found at SCHEELS Home & Hardware.
SCHEELS Home & Hardware
Design Consultants: Julie Alin & Steve Johnson
3202 13th Avenue South, Fargo