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Making memories in Murray

Story by Leigh Landini Wright Photography by J.P. Henry

Finding two homeowners who decorate the same is highly unlikely. That's certainly the case for three Murray residents who opened their homes to the Murray Woman's Club Kappa Department for the annual holiday tour of homes in 2014. One house featured a more traditional decorating approach with flocked trees and garlands, while another spotlighted the whimsical taste of its young owner, and another one featured collections of Christmas memories.

Shelley Todd

Shelley Todd's day job finds her managing the CFSB Center at Murray State University and taking care of all the details that come with putting on concerts and big events. But her nights and weekends are spent creating and decorating as she has restored a vintage house that she bought two years ago.

Fresh boxwood wreaths adorn the windows both upstairs and downstairs, and large flocked Christmas trees peek out from several corners of rooms. Each tree is decorated with a variety of ornaments, ribbons, netting and feathers.

The living room features a large flocked tree in the corner with a flocked magnolia garland hanging over the fireplace. A Nativity set sits in front of the fireplace. An oversized wooden lantern sits on a tray in the middle of the coffee table.

In the sunroom, greenery again surrounds an oversized wooden lantern with an ivory candle tucked inside. Exposed brick on one wall gives way to windows on the others to create an open and light space. Todd placed a round table decorated with greenery and china in her dining room.

In a guest room downstairs, Todd has accented with nutcracker figurines and Christmas themed pillows set against a simple, yet crisp, white and beige bedspread. She placed a floor-to-ceiling curtain behind the bed as a headboard. In the den, Todd placed another flocked tree in the corner and accented it with white and red ornaments along with a red chevron accent rug under the coffee table. Rather than boxwood wreaths, Todd used red feathers for the wreaths on the window.

Upstairs, Todd transformed a large open space into a loft-like walk-in closet and seating area, a posh bathroom and a spacious bedroom. Another flocked tree sits in the corner of the bedroom. Ostrich feathers and beaded ornaments decorate the trees, and the boxwood wreaths from the first floor return to the second floor.

Mallory Evans

For Mallory Evans, decorating for Christmas means crafting and creating memories.

She admits to cruising Pinterest often and finding more home decor ideas than she can possibly complete, but it's that can-do attitude that has helped her make memories in her newly adopted hometown.

Evans moved to Murray from Nashville to take a job as a kindergarten teacher at Southwest Elementary School two years ago and quickly fell in love with Murray. She purchased an open-concept one-level home in a newer subdivision.

A quick peek into her office reveals a large canvas screen with a photograph of the New York City skyline. Evans spent about eight years in Connecticut while growing up, and her father worked in New York City. A panoramic photograph on the wall shows the building in which her father worked as an accountant.

The New York flair extends to the kitchen where Evans tucked a tree decorated with replicas of Tiffany & Co. boxes. She explained that she watched her mother open boxes from Tiffany every year when they lived in the Northeast.

"I am a New Yorker at heart," she said. "I love it, and I miss it, but there are perks of small-town life."

Her parents and extended family live a few minutes away in a neighboring subdivision. Her parents both grew up in Calloway County but moved away after college and returned after they retired a few years ago.

The love of family is evident with one of her favorite holiday pieces. Evans restored her grandmother's birdbath and filled it with oversized red, green and silver glass ball ornaments. The birdbath sits in a flowerbed in front of the house.

Besides the touches of family, Evans has used her breaks from teaching as time to craft holiday decor. For instance, she turned a tan tablecloth into a chic ottoman cover, and she decorated the laundry room with wooden letters spelling "wash" to give the room a fun feel. She added a ribbon to a wooden Christmas card holder in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Evans describes her style as modern yet with a touch of shabby chic. She likes to use burlap as an accent such as on the table runner on the farmhouse table or on the front door wreath. Burlap wrap also graces a large tree in her living room as well as on the stockings hanging over the fireplace.

Elsewhere, she repainted a chest that she found in a discard pile and distressed another table that she now uses as a TV stand. "We had so many snow days (last year) that I re-did my laundry room," she said.

It's those little things that have helped her leave the city life behind and embrace the open spaces of western Kentucky.

JoAnn and Bill Rogers

JoAnn Rogers simply has to look up in her kitchen to see some of her favorite Christmas memories.

Rogers, a retired art teacher, moved to Murray from Carbondale, Illinois, two years ago to live closer to her son, who lives in Murray. She knew that she and her husband, Bill, also a retired educator, needed a switch from their typical traditional homes of the past.

Rogers calls her style modern eclectic, but she maintains many of her traditional Christmas decor such as the German Christmas villages that grace the top of her white kitchen cabinets.

"I've had them for over 40 years," Rogers said. "I try to take things and redo them, like this basket (on a table) is 30 to 40 years old. The garland is 30 years old."

Although she has kept Christmas items for 30 to 40 years, visitors never would know unless she told them. The garland she referenced features thin tips and sparkling white lights and hangs over a fireplace in her kitchen.

Ever the artist, Rogers has to tinker with her decorating style for every season. It's evident that Christmas has to be one of her favorites from the touches she placed in every room. Even the exterior has a festive feel with the wreaths placed on the windows. Every room features at least one sentimental decoration such as the Christopher Radko ornaments on a tree in a bedroom or the Fitz and Floyd Santa cookie jars in the kitchen.

A guest room features a small tree decorated with Paris-theme ornaments in honor of her granddaughter, who loves all things French. Several small statues of the Eiffel Tower sit in the room or are ornaments on the tree.

Rogers and her sister-in-law set up and decorated seven trees and sewed seven tree skirts. The trees range from tall tree in the living room adorned with white lights and white ornaments to a small silver tree in her sewing room that she decorated with antique spools of thread.

Sewing is her new creative passion, and she hopes to learn how to quilt.

Besides the sentimental ornaments, Rogers used natural elements as well as decorations featuring squirrels, wrens and owls throughout the home. The high ceilings give the home a modern feel, but the hardwood floors and taupe walls lend an air of tradition and warmth. "I like to blend the old with the new," she said.

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