By SHERRY LUCAS • Photography by GREG CAMPBELL
Idyllic vistas paired with beautiful furnishings, make this spacious Lake Washington home the perfect setting for family gatherings and holiday fun
The French country flair of Valerie and Jeffery Bruton’s Glen Allan home is an air kiss to Lake Washington, with lovely views that fill nearly every window and plenty of natural light to boost the fresh, bright feel.
Come Christmas, the mostly white tone on tone decor becomes an inviting canvas for pops of red and green cheer and frosty, winter white accents.
The Brutons built the house in 2017, on the lake that has been a weekend destination for them both since childhood in Hollandale.
“We grew up coming over here when we were younger,” Valerie says. “We love the scenery, the sunsets. It’s just really peaceful.” Jeffery’s fishing boat and pontoon boat are perfect for catching crappie and excursions around the lake.
“It sounds idyllic, and it really is. We love it.”
Home designer Bruce Crane of Collierville, Tennessee, took full advantage of the pretty setting, with big windows that embrace the lake from nearly every room in the house. Even walking in the front door, guests can see clear through to site’s prime draw. The builder was Mac Long of Madison.
“When we started building, I kind of knew the look I wanted,” Valerie says. Construction consultant Paula Hughes of Madison translated inspiration into interior flow and furnishings, and “helped me from beginning to end.”
A spread on Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady’s home in Architectural Digest sparked some ideas. In the Brutons’ home, stone walls and columns bring that French country feel to the kitchen and entrance to the dining room. They built off the look from there, Hughes says, fleshing out the light, airy atmosphere with antiques from Round Top, Texas.
A double island in the kitchen maximizes surface areas for prep and serving. “It works well,” Hughes says, “because in the Delta, everybody throws lots of parties.”
When friends of Maddison Bruton, their nephew Owen’s wife, wanted to throw her a baby shower, the lovely views and spacious rooms made the Brutons’ home a perfect setting. The early December date brought a holiday spirit to the decor.
Pink and white striped Christmas tree ribbons on invitations by co-hostess and designer Mary Clair Cumbaa set a theme for the party and hinted that a little girl was on the way (Margaret Mayo Bruton arrived in January). Pink poinsettias and pink and white roses tied seamlessly into the spread.
Light fare for the Sunday afternoon shower included cucumber rounds with salmon and capers, sandwiches, fruit salad and cookies iced in soft hues of pink, mint (pastel versions of red and green) and white, in shapes of baby carriages, nighties, bottles, rattles and Christmas trees. Cookie creator Emily Lewis (SugarMemma in Leland) was also a co-hostess. Gold-rimmed Annieglass serving pieces flirted with gold elements in a mirror frame and more in the Brutons’ decor.
“It’s a beautiful setting because it overlooks Lake Washington, and she already had her house decorated for Christmas,” says Cumbaa. “She had some great greenery, so the pink ribbons really popped.” Plus, the kitchen’s double island worked wonders for party flow, with the food on one island, and beverages and shower hostess gifts on the other.
“She had such a great canvas. It really laid the foundation, and accentuated everything we did.”
The Brutons’ Christmas tree is a tower of 10 to 11 feet, topped by a cheery polka-dot bow with cascading ribbons that takes full advantage of room’s 12-foot ceiling. Polka dots dance across the ornaments, too, as well as stripes and swirls, for a pattern of playfulness that tucks right into the season. “I just want it to look fun and festive,” Valerie says.
“We usually have Bruton Christmas here,” she adds, as well as a cookie exchange for their church, “and I want everybody to come and have a good time. I don’t want it to seem stuffy.” The Brutons’ family includes three children—Magan King (married to Keith King, with granddaughter Mary Waldon) and twins Madison and Michael Bruton.
The fun and festive slant continues with collections of Santas, carolers and a Christmas village that, in shades of white and taupe, radiates snowy beauty and cozy warmth. Old St. Nick pottery by Vietri livens up the breakfast nook with punches of bright red and elfin charm.
In the kitchen, a Wolf range is ready to roar to life in the service of entertaining, and white quartzite countertops provide an appealing expanse for the same purpose.
Above, a pair of lanterns, found in an Alabama antique shop and rewired for overhead lighting, provide a focal point. They caught Valerie’s eye while the house was under construction, but they looked a bit rickety and “I couldn’t decide if I should get them or not.” By the time she got home without them, she was kicking herself. “They probably would have really set my kitchen off!” She called back to stake her claim, and “I’m so glad I went back and got them. … They’re beautiful. I honestly don’t know how old they are. I don’t know anything about them, but I really like the way they look!”
The dining room continues that inviting French country feel, with a large farm table and a pale blue antique sideboard. Kendall Fratesi, a friend of their daughter, Magan, created the abstract painting there, picking up all the room’s hues in a calming abstract that also sets off the holiday decor in pearl and blue ornaments with a garland of greenery.
The trophy room, behind barn doors right off the breakfast nook, has become a favorite family hangout spot, enticing with its homey and cozy feel, comfy sectional, cypress paneling and plantation shutters.
The space was designed with Jeffery’s mounts in mind—particularly the trophies he brought home from a 2015 hunt in Africa with his brother. A zebra rug greets guests as they enter the dining room, but it’s the trophy room and its antelope mounts that truly pay tribute to that trip. A kudu head dominates the room and vaulted ceiling, and a klipspringer stands atop a high corner shelf.
There in the trophy room, Valerie’s penchant for collecting Santa Clauses hits a thematic peak, with one jolly fellow atop a rolling reindeer and a second St. Nick astride a giraffe. “I got those at Lagniappe in Greenville,” she says. While she typically decorates the tree and punches up the home’s holiday spirit, “They come in and do those extra touches that I think makes everything look put together.”
The giraffe Santa was a particularly delightful, had-to-have find. “It’s so cute! And, I thoroughly needed another Santa Claus,” Valerie says, chuckling at the size of her collection.
A mix of natural and synthetic greenery brings the outdoors inside. Along with the Christmas tree, the real stuff puts that special, seasonal scent in the air.
A bountiful, red-threaded green garland drapes the French doors out front. The sparse and skinny cedars, in planters that flank the entrance, are cheered up by red bows at the top. “They look like little Charlie Brown trees,” Valerie says fondly. It’s a nostalgic trigger guaranteed to connect with the child in all.