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A Clean and Fresh Christmas

A Clean and Fresh Christmas

  • This story originally appeared in the December 2023 food and drink issue of COMO Magazine.
Interior designer Anne Tuckley
Bold and dramatic sitting room featuring a neutral Christmas tree wooden chandelier animal skull and yule log on TV
Detail shot of minimalist neutral Christmas tree decorations
Luxurious neutral living room with minimalist holiday decor and big arched windows
Coffee table feature holiday decor sits in a neutral toned living room +8
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Bold and dramatic sitting room featuring a neutral Christmas tree wooden chandelier animal skull and yule log on TV

Interior designer Anne Tuckley’s home is decked in warm and serene holiday charm.

If you’ve ever wondered how a professional interior designer decorates their own house for the holidays – their process and tips and tricks – step into Anne Tuckley’s palatial luxury modern mansion that looks like an English cottage from the outside.

No stranger to the pages of COMO Magazine, Tuckley has been a professional interior designer who stages home and retail spaces for more than twenty years. Strands of simple wood beads, fairy lights, and emerald green garland, along with rich wood accents and warm, natural textures, adorn Tuckley’s 4,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath modern luxury home at 2509 Bluff Creek Drive in southeast Columbia. It’s like stepping into a luxurious Scandinavian hotel with a strong hygge vibe. 

“This year for Christmas, I’ve toned down the decorations, unlike in past years,” Tuckley says of her holiday style this year. “It’s just very wintery. It’s quiet, clean, and fresh.”

Creating A Fresh Canvas

Tuckley’s house was built in 2000. Having previously lived in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Houston, and many other cities, Tuckley and her son, William, moved into the house in 2004. The previous owners had a wildly different aesthetic than hers, with walls painted in gold, red, and green, dark floors, and an ill-placed wall between the kitchen/dining space and the living room. It’s almost impossible to imagine the house decorated so darkly after seeing the white, airy, sun-drenched haven that it is now.

“This house has been through many transitions,” Tuckley explains about transforming the space to better suit her. 

Over time, and with proven interior design prowess at her disposal, Tuckley has remodeled the estate by painting everything white initially, refinishing the floors to look like white oak, adding crown molding throughout, and blowing out that pesky wall.

And how she decorates for the holidays also has changed over time.

“From year to year, I change it up. I guess because I’m a decorator by trade, I enjoy changing the decor often,” she says with a laugh. ”One year the Christmas tree was decorated with framed pictures of family, spoons, and tea sets. Another time it was found bird’s nests and deer antlers.”

When the house was dark, Ann says she felt like she sometimes overcompensated during the holidays by doing too much with her decor to make up for the feeling that she didn’t like how the house felt at the time. But not this year.

“With the new look, I wanted to tone down the Christmas decor to be a little bit more minimal,” she says.

Take the Holiday Tour

Walk in the front door and you are immediately struck by the gorgeous back wall of the living room, with its row of three tall windows topped with radius windows, offering an incredible view of the wooded lot while also casting warm, wide blankets of light over the spacious but cozy living room. A pair of modern, creamy sofas sit facing each other, bejeweled by pillows and throws in warm leathers, ultra-fuzzy fleeces, faux furs, and woven fabrics. A pair of ultra-modern sculptural floor lamps stand on either end of the farthest sofa. A line of white, pre-lit, birch-like trees with posable branches sits on a narrow console table between the farthest sofa and the windows. Some simple paper snowflake ornaments add to the trees’ rustic charm. 

A chunky coffee table covered with a mosaic wood veneer separates the sofas, and for the holidays, an arrangement of faux evergreen sprigs sits atop it, a pinecone or two casually nested within the greenery, all twinkling with a dainty string of warm white LED fairy lights. This casual use of natural textures is at the heart of Tuckley’s holiday look here.

Just about everywhere you look, you’ll find a nook, cubby, or corner with a wintry accent as simple as a primitive wood bowl or vase filled with some greenery, some pinecones or tree ornaments or wood beads, and a few miniature lights. The look is as cozy as it appears effortless. 

Anne’s living room holiday look wouldn’t be complete without a beautifully adorned fireplace mantle, which she draped in more garland, wood beads, and some lights. A single abstract wood sculpture is all that sits atop it.

To the left of the entryway is a small parlor or sitting room. Despite her earlier struggle with dark colors in the house, she has painted this room black. Yes, black. Four square club chairs in creamy white sit in each corner, facing each other. A tall window that matches those in the living room, flanked by floor-to-ceiling white drapes, prevents the room from feeling too dark; a gorgeous narrow Christmas tree sits in front of the window, packed with ornaments in silver, white, and more natural textures.

To the right of the entryway, a matching tree sits in front of a window identical to the one in the parlor in a small alcove before an office. A grand railing arcs out from the right, decked in garland, lights, and wood beads, inviting you down the curved staircase. On the first landing leaning against the wall is an enormous, ornate door from Europe that Tuckley picked up in town from an antiques dealer. (She says it weighs about 500 pounds.) A light behind the door illuminates the windows, and a simple wreath adds a touch of Christmas charm.

In the dining room, a round table seats five. The place settings are a stack of plates – a dinner plate, a salad plate, and a small wood plate – topped with sprigs of garland and a simple tea light. A large vase filled with garland serves as the centerpiece. Small wooden accents, pottery, and fairy lights dot the kitchen with festivity. 

Get the Look 

“What I encourage people to always do for Christmas decor is to look to their own collections and their own aesthetics and use what you have in your decor currently,” she advises. “I think that’s what makes design special is when it’s actually something that means something to you.”

Tuckley points to the Christmas tree in the sitting area. “I’ll walk around the house looking for things to use. That is a fire pit stand with a piece of wood on top covered by a blanket that I used to set the tree on giving it more height to fill the window.”

Having previously owned a retail decor shop, she isn’t short on a personal collection of cool stuff to shop from, but if you’re not in the same boat, just get creative with what you have, keeping her tip in mind: “If you add some twinkle lights to just about anything, you’ll get that festive holiday vibe.” 

Another great tip Tuckley has is regarding all that gorgeous garland, which you may know isn’t cheap if you’ve ever gone hunting for some. While she buys fresh garland from Helmi’s Gardens, she gets that full, thick effect by layering in less expensive, faux garland. You don’t have to spend a fortune for high impact.

She adds: “Don’t over decorate, and don’t decorate for anybody but yourself for sure.” 

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