“Deck the halls with boughs of holly!” Christmas is upon us and if you haven’t opened up the boxes or the closet where your decorations are stored, now’s the time to fill your home with holiday cheer.

Jennifer and Mark Prater love to celebrate the holidays, especially when they host their five grandchildren for Christmas. “I love to build Christmas memories.” Jennifer exclaimed. In fact, she’s so fond of this annual tradition, she usually doesn’t take down her holiday décor until late January!

The couple bought their spacious, 1997 Selah Heights home several years ago. A long driveway sets the stage for this multi-gabled, two-story, contemporary Tudor home. During the holiday season when visitors arrive they are greeted by twinkling lights on the adjacent trees and the home’s roofline. The brick and stone exterior with its round-topped, multi-paned windows, and the sparkling holiday décor at the arched stone entry are just precursors to the Christmas magic to be discovered inside.

A two-story entry hall awaits the Prater’s guests. Jennifer especially loves to create a sparkling winter wonderland motif with garlands enhanced by twinkle lights and large golden bows, wrapped around the handrail up to the second floor. A tall, illuminated tree is the central focus of the entry. Jennifer admitted “I recently bought three white flocked artificial trees at Hobby Lobby. This makes twelve Christmas trees and I need more!” Although she buys reams of decorative ribbon and makes the bows herself, she professes that the key to her sanity is buying only artificial trees with lights.

Mark has worked in the auto industry as a dealership manager for years and Jennifer works for The National Personal Training Institute and owns the Seattle branch. While very busy with their careers, they still find time to travel and have visited over 30 nations. “I love getting things from other countries, and making the house feel like it has a cultural vibe,” she said. Every year she enjoys making small changes to her Christmas scheme by adding these overseas treasures to her décor.

Two white columns grace the entrance to the couple’s large living room off the foyer where the family’s official 15-foot Christmas tree, covered in twinkle lights, natural colored ornaments, burlap ribbon and a traditional silver star on top, takes center stage. “We enjoy making the holiday special for all of our friends and family throughout the month of December,” says Jennifer, “but it is especially magical in the eyes of our grandchildren who spend holiday time with us.” Before it’s time for bed the family gathers to watch Christmas movies complete with popcorn and hot cocoa. They always read them “The Night Before Christmas,” sending them off to sleep hopefully dreaming of Santa’s visit. The next morning they love watching their five grandchildren scramble down the stairs to the living room and seeing their eyes light up when they spy their stockings on the mantel filled with goodies and the mountain of presents that Santa has left for them.

One surprise in the couple’s living room is the large elk head mounted on the wall near a set of windows. Mark grew up in Wenatchee, and Jennifer in Hood River, Oregon, and both enjoy hunting deer and elk in Idaho.

After moving into their Selah home, the couple realized that the paint colors throughout needed a bit of updating. The comfortable den just off the kitchen features coffered ceilings, and a cozy brick fireplace that includes built-in wood breakfront cabinets. The Praters decided to go bold and painted over natural oak with a rich black. The dark color definitely updated the room. At Christmas Jennifer fills the upper shelves with her collection of Christmas plates and hangs red wreaths which “pop” for attention from the cupboard doors.

Jennifer admitted she has a mini-obsession for decorative throw pillows, like the poinsettia ones displayed on her guest room bed. “I just love throw pillows,” she exclaimed with a laugh. “I even have a closet dedicated to throw pillows.” She confessed that on a recent shopping trip to Pottery Barn she divulged this fact to a store designer and he enlightened her with the fact that she really didn’t need more pillows, but from now on she should just buy decorative pillow covers!

French doors lead to the Prater’s dining room. A long table with chairs awaits the Christmas feast under a double wheel chandelier recessed in the ceiling above the table. The room is understated with only two illuminated trees, along with golden pair of angel wings on one wall and the words “gratitude and love” displayed on another, reminding diners at the Prater table of the true reason for the season.

Leaving the best for the last, the couple’s master bedroom suite can be found just up the stairs on the second floor. They picked a neutral color palette of light beige carpeting coupled with vanilla colored woodwork, creating a calm and relaxing atmosphere for this spacious room. For a luxurious touch, they chose a sheepskin rug that offers a warm landing for cold toes. Even this bedroom doesn’t escape holiday cheer. Jennifer adds her personal holiday touch with two illuminated Christmas trees decorated with pine cones and faux cranberries.

By now most readers must wonder how anyone has the energy to decorate such a spacious home for Christmas! Well, the answer may lie in the master bathroom where the Praters have installed the most beautiful claw and ball footed bathtub, just crying out for someone to soak their troubles away while drinking a fine vintage of wine after a hard day of work. It’s no wonder Jennifer Prater can spend so much time turning her home into a Christmas fantasyland. The answer — she can rejuvenate in her beautiful master bathroom!

It’s obvious that Jennifer and Mark Prater love their home, no matter what season of the year. And with five grandchildren coming for the holidays I’m pretty sure they will be perfectly prepared for Santa’s arrival.

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