By SHERRY LUCAS • Photography by GREG CAMPBELL
Family heirlooms and creative accents add grace notes of Christmas cheer in every room of this historic Greenwood home
Color is king when it comes to Christmas cheer at Lisa and Floyd Melton III’s Grand Boulevard home in Greenwood.
“I was one of those who never really got out of the color world,” says Lisa Melton, who leans toward the traditional with a sprinkling of current trends. Sentiment and style are major forces, too, and the annual input of decorator Margie Barger helps turn her collection and the setting into a vision that makes the Christmas spirit pop.
The house’s character, history, and locale all weave into the winter wonderland that is Christmas at the Meltons’ each year. The 1916 Tudor revival home’s long, barrel-ceilinged second floor was used as a ballroom in earlier times, and the house’s friendly flow contributes to entertaining ease.
The Grand Boulevard setting puts it right on the route of the Roy Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade. “We have always participated in the party atmosphere of that whole event,” Lisa Melton says. “To me, my house is just the prettiest at Christmas time.”
That first weekend in December, parade festivities amp up the neighborhood spirit with folks gathering in front of houses and setting up chairs along the street. The Melton children, Floyd IV and Anne Craig, were in second grade and kindergarten, respectively, when the family moved in, in 2008. Now, they’re both bringing friends home from Ole Miss to enjoy the Greenwood hospitality.
Inside the house, family heirlooms, special gifts, and creative accents work their way into charming displays tucked into strategic spots here and there. “I’m very fortunate,” Lisa says. “I have a lot of pretty things I inherited from my grandmother and my aunt and uncle. Most every little detail has a story behind it.”
The foyer sets the tone with a pair of chairs in burnt orange, black lampshades for cool contrast, some oversized gift boxes to ignite the imagination, and the first of many colorful trees. “It’s definitely a mod pop, and it gets you excited as you walk in the door,” Margie Barger says. “For me, it takes me back to childhood, walking in and feeling that magic.”
An old window frame rescued from Staplcotn in Greenwood makes the setting even more enticing. “It gives a little life and light back there,” Lisa notes.
The corner cabinet in her dining room came out of her grandmother’s home and features cypress doors hewn from the trees that grew on their land. “We brought it out of their house when they moved on and purposely designed the dining room around that piece and the dining room table,” Lisa says of the big farmhouse table that was made long before such tables became the rage. Every year, she appreciates the pieces even more, for their timeless style and their connection to her maternal grandmother, Anne Craig Milner (whose name lives on with Lisa’s daughter).
The cabinet becomes a perfect display spot for handcrafted angels that are family treasures. Her grandmother’s antique Italian papier-mâché angels, purchased from Lina’s Interiors in Greenville (the store her uncle Cary Karlson owned with his family), have now passed down to her.
Decor around the dining room’s edges helps set the stage for the holidays. An Equen Rhodes portrait of Lisa and the children, set in front of the family’s heirloom tapestry, enjoys a prominent place. On the buffet in front, a trio of gold deer heads, set on hexagonal white bases, catches the eye. The creative twist solved an issue of cool accessories that previously lacked the scale to stand out. “I just wanted to build them up and have them fit with the holiday decor,” Margie says of the deer heads. “Lisa’s great at finding things with the idea, ‘I know if I buy this, Margie will create something out of it.’” So it was with the white octagonal vases. Margie flipped them to form the bases, providing height, interest, and a unique focal point on the dining room’s buffet.
The Meltons’ annual Christmas Eve family gathering, a sit-down dinner for twenty to thirty people, is always a special occasion, enhanced by the elegant silver candelabras that trace all the way back to her great-grandmother. Lenox Lowell china, Reed & Barton Burgundy silver, and Cherrywood crystal make the setting even more inviting.
Every room gets a grace note of Christmas cheer. In the den, a fur wreath makes an intriguing contrast with to the icy gleam of silver atop a chest in the den. Gorham silver ornaments—family collections started by her mother-in-law Elizabeth Melton’s annual gifts—dangle on a silver display. The silver horse’s head, a nod to Pillow Academy’s Mustangs and used widely for school-related functions, gets another trot around the party circuit during the holiday season.
The tapestry inherited from her grandmother becomes a compelling backdrop for soft, snow-white trees and frosted branches that tuck prettily between coral lamps in a sitting room off the master bedroom.
In son Floyd Melton IV’s room, the Christmas tree provides a highlight reel of his interests, from the pheasant feather topping and snowflake and deer ribbon to the ornaments that tag football, tacky sweater fun, karate lessons, an arcade video game, a Delta sunset, and sports.
“Everyone tells a story in a unique way,” Lisa says. “It’s youthful yet masculine.”
The tree in Anne Craig’s room has similar personal flair with fun ornamental nods to fashion and travel.
A vintage Santa couple—Annalee dolls from the ‘70s with hand-painted faces, a gift from Aunt Craig Karlson—occupies a fun corner at the bar. One year, Margie stuck a big martini glass in Santa’s hand to add extra cheer to the arrangement.
“They have little bendable hands, and I couldn’t resist, especially at parade time,” says Margie. “You can’t not be happy seeing Mr. and Mrs. Claus. They were a fun addition, so they stayed in the bar area.” Little cocktail ornaments on a bar tree take the theme another fun step forward, and the starburst light fixture brings in finishing sparkle.
Margie has helped with the Meltons’ holiday decor for more than a decade, after she and Lisa met through their work as speech-language pathologists. When her son Brandt was little, “He used to say I decorated for Jesus’ birthday,” Margie says. “There has always been joy and love behind it. He’s spot on—that’s why I love doing it.” At the Meltons’ home, incorporating family pieces is particularly meaningful. “Even though they’re not there, their memory is there.”
Stockings hang from a living room’s antique mantel, framed by a fabulous garland that guarantees all will be noticed. The wooden mantel, found in a barn on Lisa’s family’s land, came out of her great-great-grandmother’s house that burned more than a century ago. The stunning mantel could easily stand alone, but the garland’s layers of neutral coppers and whites give it a festive top note for the holidays.
The breakfast room’s green chairs and mirror-top table are cheery year-round, and the antique horns above a print of Venice—instruments that were Lisa’s grandmother’s—seem to take on more meaning at Christmas time. A poinsettia and cone Christmas trees pull in the spirit of the season.
In the den, tabletop trees are a festive plus, perched on barrels from the old Ice House in Greenwood that were a treasured find of Lisa’s great-grandfather. The Three Wise Men, a gift from her aunt and uncle, are a tasteful touch for the coffee table, inherited from her grandmother and made in the same style as that beloved dining room table.
Upstairs, the former ballroom turned kids’ hangout has a tree that suits that use, displaying childhood ornaments that reach back to kindergarten crafts. “They honestly use every ornament in the house,” says Margie, “and they enjoy every bit of the glitter I spread around.”
The Christmas spirit shines brightly outside, too, spotlighting the open porch and front door’s “Joy” sign with skis on either side—a decorative touch for a family that loves the sport.
Outdoor cutouts of Santa and his sleigh that once merrily traversed the bayou where her aunt and uncle live, were passed along to the Meltons for yard display. “Floyd relit it with rope lights. He wires them up in the yard and puts an angel in the tree,” Lisa says. “People enjoy seeing that as they drive down Grand Boulevard.”
It’s one more way the Meltons bring their home to holiday life.