Christmas tree and mantel decor

The living room tree is trimmed in shades of gold, coral, amber, and sage pulled from the antique Oushak rug. (See a list of sources for this home.)

“There’s no place like home for the holidays.” So sang Perry Como, and so says Jane Schwab. When it comes to holiday decorating, the highly sought-after interior designer and co-author of The Welcoming House (Rizzoli, 2013) decks her own halls with the same fervor and flair that she brings year-round to her clients at some of Charlotte, North Carolina’s most enviable addresses and beyond.

Designed and built in 1923 by architect Martin Evans Boyer and renovated in 1999 by the firm of McAlpine Tankersley (now McAlpine), the Colonial-style cottage Schwab shares with husband Nelson epitomizes approachable elegance. Come December, the limewashed brick structure cocooned in ivy and boxwood becomes the scene for chic soirées, impromptu get-togethers, and happy homecomings with the arrival of the couple’s four children and four grandchildren.

The designer stands in front of pair of large French double doors adorned with a large wreath. She is arranging branches of magnolia and yew.

Interior designer Jane Schwab in her garden room

The painted foyer's architecture features high ceilings and gracious arches. Jane Schwab decorated it with a gilded chandelier adorned with delicate crystal swags, a simple sea grass or sisal rug, a semi-circle entry table, and a large gilded antique complemented by Italian sconces on either side.

Smilax dresses the mantel and a mirror in the foyer.

“It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Even with the cold, our home feels more inviting. We’re spending more time with family and friends and experiencing a renewed sense of joy in our surroundings. Since we all entertain more this time of year, it’s fun to treat your guests to an extra sensory experience. I have a ‘less can be more’ design philosophy, but when it comes to decorating the house for the holidays, I say the more fresh greens and flowers, the better. I love the way they accentuate the inherent beauty of the architecture and everyday interiors.”

closeup of flower-adorned chandelier

Jay Lugibihl of In Bloom Ltd. used clear floral tape and fishing line to hang amaryllis, ranunculus, berries, and smilax from the chandelier.

Working with longtime friend and floral designer Jay Lugibihl of In Bloom Ltd., Schwab drapes garlands, hangs wreaths, and assembles arrangements that are simple in composition but commanding in scale. The creations, procured from a family-owned farm upstate, are designed to call attention to the elements and objects they adorn—the gently arched French doors, the handsome custom millwork, cherished European antiques, and a herd of fanciful deer statuary that seem to frolic around the house. Smilax vine is playfully strewn across mantels and mirrors to soften their lines and impose depth. Schwab’s sister harvests the wispy vine near her hometown of Ridge Spring, South Carolina, and brings her bundles throughout the season.

family room with fireplace

In the family room, more than 30 feet of fresh garland forms a striking note above the fireplace. Antlers mounted on antique English plaques, tabletop topiaries, and a lavish rabbit throw evoke an enchanted forest allure.

“I like my designs to feel organic,” Lugibihl says, “as if they’ve naturally and spontaneously grown into the interiors. Jane’s house is classic, but with a little bit of an edge, so it lends itself to that haphazard, unfussy look. Structured silhouettes, glittery metallics, and rich reds and greens won’t work here, so we forgo the stiff, formal bows for smooth, satiny ribbon and opt for aged silvers and golds and warm, muted tones.”

A series of gracious, spacious rooms are unified by a nearly neutral backdrop. Decadent, confectionary colors like honey, toffee, and mocha are whisked together with the light notes of yellow, sage, and French blue used in the paint, textiles, and upholstery. Coral amaryllis and ranunculus, peach hypericum, apricot parrot tulips, and clementine spice up spaces, while white flowers—camellia, cyclamen, garden rose, star-of-Bethlehem, and paperwhite—act as palate cleansers.

The light and airy garden room features a painted wood ceiling with exposed beams, three sets of arched French doors, and a natural wood dining table with a scrolled metal base, surrounded by natural linen slip-covered chairs. Two large black lanterns provide lighting.

In the garden room, concrete English urns overflow with a mix of greenery, and ribbon-wrapped wreaths adorn French doors.

Dining room holiday decor

An antique English table wears its holiday best—a custom linen damask tablecloth used exclusively for seasonal entertaining. The terra-cotta color complements the orange undertones of the antique French commode and ignites even more warmth in the yellow dining room.

The interior’s unexpected mix of textures, colors, and forms sparks a wintry feeling that is anything but forced. But the real party gets started in dining room beneath the display of flowers that drips like candle wax from an antique chandelier. “It’s the ultimate in whimsy,” Lugibihl says. “We decided to mix it up by going beyond the typical bloom-in-bowl table arrangement. The idea was inspired by British artist Rebecca Louise Law, who creates the most imaginative installations from hanging flowers. We love how it hovers above the table like a cloud and shades the antique stag that sits at the center of table.” It’s just one more surprise awaiting family and guests in a very welcoming and wonderful holiday home.

More Holiday Style from Jane Schwab

Click the arrows (or swipe if on a mobile device) to see more

holiday table arrangement
An arrangement of magnolia, boxwood, yew, and white tallow berry echoes the view from the extra-long table in the garden room. A painting by Todd Murphy depicts a deer with tree-branch antlers.
Jay Lugibihl
Floral designer Jay Lugibihl adds festive touches to an antique hand-carved wooden stag with natural antlers.

 “Scale is important in floral design. Sometimes it only takes one impactful arrangement to set the tone for a particular space.” — Floral Designer Jay Lugibihl


 

Small tulip arrangement beside salt cellars made from silver and seashells.
Apricot parrot tulips and peach hypericum bring color to a cluster of cedar and pieris foliage.
Holiday reindeer statue with a green wreath, adorned with a gold bow, around neck.
A concrete deer keeps watch in the garden.
A large green holiday wreath with gold bow hangs on a section a mullioned windows between the pair of narrow French doors.
Doors from the terrace to the garden room
holiday home decor, wreath
Seeded eucalyptus wreaths wrapped in ribbon encircle a pair of gilded Italian sconces in the foyer.
large holiday greenery arrangement
“We wanted a grand gesture of welcome,” says interior designer Jane Schwab of the 5-foot arrangement of pine, holly, and yew that sits atop an antique Irish mahogany server in the family room.
Jane Schwab adorned the figurine's neck with greenery for the holidays, and placed bundles of paperwhite flowers in a vase behind it.
A hand-carved and painted wooden lamb with a halo
A fir wreath hangs on the white wooden gate, which is a ajar, revealing that the brick walkway leads to a larger brick patio
Festooned garden gates
A wreath hangs on the white wooden door, which is flanked by black shutters. Above is an aged copper overhang. The photo also gives a closer look at the limewashed brick exterior of Jane Schwab’s Colonial-style home.
The simple, elegant front entry
It features a ground-level slate patio and an arched double door. Flanking the door are large black lanterns and planters bearing boxwoods. The porch ceiling features a light blue-gray beadboard ceiling with black ceiling fan.
The entrance to the guest house
1920s Colonial-style cottage with limewashed brick exterior
The Schwabs’ Charlotte home

Jane’s Joys

1| Christian Tortu Forêts Candle: The pine-and-cedar scent is festive but clean, so it’s not overly Christmasy. I place them around the house on silver bread-and-butter dishes and keep a stash on hand for hostess gifts.

2| Champagne with Raspberries—The berries add an extra kick of flavor and a pop of color that complements the coral and peach hues in my interior palette.

3| Cowtan & Tout Birches Wallpaper in Snow—An elegant alternative to drugstore gift wrap. The neutral faux bois motif works well with traditional and modern holiday decor.

4| William Yeoward Flavia Goblets—Their square base and substantial weight feel nice in the hand.

5| Smilax—It grows wild in the woods near my hometown in South Carolina, so it’s nostalgic for me. My sister always brings me bags of clippings when she visits.

6| Vintage English Antler Mugs—I love the visual and tactile contrast of their smooth silver plate bodies and their rugged antler handles. I use them for everything from containing flowers to corralling flatware on a buffet.


By Margaret Zainey Roux | Photography by Laurey W. Glenn

See Flower magazine’s Sources section for more design details from this home.