Kathleen carner, 68, loves getting together with her grown daughters — leslee mobley, 45, and cristeen valicoff, 43 — especially when the conversation turns to antiquing and interior design. And when it comes to the holidays, these creative women all decorate their homes in the spirit of the season, but with very different styles.
A Victorian Christmas
Kathleen admits that when she and her husband, Gene, bought their home in the ’60s, she furnished it just like her mother by purchasing matching furniture from a local store. “That all changed when a girlfriend took me to Seattle and we went shopping at an antique store,” she remembers. “I fell in love with everything.” She had an instant attraction to Victorian oak furniture, ornate silver pieces and mercury glass. When she got home, she eventually sold her new furniture, replacing it over time with antiques.
Today her living room is the picture of Victoriana, exuding an old-world charm. An elegant tufted sofa and black mirrored cabinet that displays favorite glass and crystal objects d’art set the tone of the gracious room. Kathleen pulls her Victorian theme together with her fascinating collection of vintage photos above an unusual oak dresser that displays an ornate gilt bronze clock along with a decorative parlor oil lamp.
“My mother’s family came to the west coast from Virginia in about 1915 and worked as farm laborers, mainly in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. My father’s family were displaced Germans from Russia and came to the U.S. in 1908,” Kathleen explains. This interest in her family’s history has played a role in her passion for antiques. Kathleen admits wistfully, “I’d love to live in the Victorian era.”
So it’s no wonder that Kathleen bases her holiday theme on Victorian style as well and incorporates silver and pearls throughout her home. Her tall, narrow artificial christmas tree, sparkling with long strands of pearls and glistening silver ornaments, stands prominently in the living room during the holidays. Sticking to a “less is more” philosophy for holiday decor, Kathleen sparingly places delightful touches, such as silver candy dishes filled with shiny ornaments and old mercury glass vases and candlesticks, in surprising spots around her lovely home.
American Primitive Christmas
Leslee Mobley inherited her mother’s love of antiquing. Today she lives on Clayson Farm in Gleed with her husband, Mark, and two sons, Clayson, 14 (and whom the property is named after), and Garrett, 6. “Our home was built in 1901 and is still a work in progress,” Leslee says. “My husband is in construction and a very talented craftsman, so every project takes time.”
Although their property is surrounded by orchards, they don’t farm. But they love to rescue farm animals who are then spoiled. The family has three goats: Stanley, This and That, plus a sheep called Nelly and one pot-bellied pig who goes by Charlie.
Mark’s master carpentry skills and Leslee’s own talent for designing rooms that showcase antiques and Americana have developed a farmhouse with warm homespun appeal, without skimping on modern conveniences.
As a child, Leslee often went with her mother to yard sales and antique shows, and she loved snooping around antique stores. “I just got hooked,” she says. “I have always loved that ‘come in and stay awhile’ feel that old furniture and country-style decorating give a home. I also love flags, and red has always been my favorite color. If only old furniture could talk … what a story it would tell.”
For five years during the ’90s, Leslee owned Granny’s Pantry, a store located in the Scarborough Fair shopping center in Yakima. During that time she began to develop her signature country style by using a mix of whimsical handmade decorations, shaker boxes, antique tools, pillows from vintage fabrics, old pottery crocks and patriotic flags in her interior design.
After she closed her shop, she directed her talents to a yearly antique sale, called American Primitives at Clayson Farm. The family even went to the trouble of moving a gargantuan 17x27-foot barn — in two pieces — to their property, so Leslee could have a “shop” from which to sell her collection of primitive furniture, housewares and decorations during the huge yearly event. She also hosts a smaller fall event, called Garrett’s Gathering.
“As a kid we always did Christmas Eve with my dad’s side of the family and then spent Christmas morning at home opening gifts,” she says. “My family still does basically the same, going to my husband’s parents for Christmas Eve, spending Christmas morning at home and then getting together with my side of the family for brunch.”
Holding on to old-fashioned holiday traditions, the family relies on lots of live Christmas trees, wreaths and garlands because Mark refuses to buy artificial greenery. Leslee has an affinity for snowmen and displays them alongside small banners with holiday greetings, American flags, homespun ornaments, red berries and twinkle lights for accent. She loves placing fun holiday displays in unexpected spots around the house: a snowman and tiny tree atop an old country store scale, a pickle crock holding a miniature lighted tree and a precious miniature chicken coop decked out with green boughs on the front porch.
During any season, Leslee’s cozy farmhouse reflects a simpler era when the holidays were slower, with the sweet smell of baking in the kitchen, family gatherings, church and friends. She and her family have captured these bygone days.
A Luxe Christmas
Cristeen and Ric Valicoff moved into their hilltop home southeast of Yakima four years ago. Built by Jim Sevigny, the home combines northwest style with hints of French country. The interior features an open living space with high ceilings and tall windows affording an amazing view of the family’s extensive orchards below.
“We wanted an open concept, so that we could all be together cooking, relaxing, entertaining in a cozy large space,” Cristeen says. The great room’s large picture window, which provides an expansive view of the orchards, is Ric’s “pride and joy.”
“Ric is truly 100 percent farmer,” Cristeen says. “He’s worked really hard to make it possible to have our home built on his ranch.”
When it came to décor, Cristeen enlisted the help of local interior designer Kitty Berg to help her achieve a relaxed yet traditional decorating scheme. Choosing a neutral palate, the calming beige walls and white cabinetry and molding contrast nicely with gleaming wood floors.
“Kitty helped me with the wall color and some of the furniture, especially helping me with the scale and size of chairs, couches and more,” she explains. As a result, the home exudes a comfortable luxury that welcomes family and friends to relax and enjoy themselves.
The understated furnishings provide a perfect backdrop for dramatic focal pieces placed in many of the rooms. Crystal chandeliers in the entry and dining room, oversized white marble fireplaces, the foyer’s iron and glass topped table and a large Leo Adams landscape in the master bedroom all add to an elegant feel throughout the home.
Cristeen also credits her mother and sister for helping her achieve her vision. “My mother and sister really helped me with trusting myself and not to keep second guessing every decorating decision,” she says. “My mom kept saying, ‘a house evolves over time and that’s what makes it unique to you. Just give it time and it will just get better and better as you live in it and add pieces to it.’ ” Cristeen said Ric added helpful input as well.
When the family’s first Christmas in their new home rolled around, Cristeen enlisted her sister’s help in decorating it for the holidays, although the two have different styles. “We went to pick out decorations and ended up buying a very tall, 12-foot artificial tree for the living room and all of the ornaments from Target,” she says, smiling. Using a white and crystal theme with contrasting green garlands, the house sparkles with holiday cheer.
Cristeen’s childhood holidays haven’t been forgotten, however. Her grandmother made several kinds of cookies every Christmas, so Cristeen makes one or two of her recipes each year. She also cherishes some decorations that her sons, Coalby, 24, and Brock, 12, made when they were small. “No one else would think much of the homemade little picture frame and angel they made but me,” she says. “Every year I get them out and it kind of brings back a little of their childhood.”
Even the entrance to her home is cleverly decorated, with silver pine cones in potted porch plants, twinkle lights and a large candelabra welcoming holiday guests at her front door.
As the old saying goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” These three delightful and very talented ladies prove that style can be inherited and nurtured to fit each individual.