A Holly Jolly Homecoming

By Katie Faulkner  |  Photography by Beacon Imagery

For Bob and Cindy Gehl, Christmas is that special time of year when their two now-grown children, Kevin and Allison, make their way back home. For a family reunion like this, they pull out all the stops. Trimmings and traditions abound in this family’s beautiful custom-built brick home created by Dexter White Construction with design and decor led by Wolfe Studio Interiors.

(above left) photo by Med Dement)

Frosted glass windows in French doors adorned with greenery and twirled red ribbons welcome guests with traditional holiday warmth. The home’s front portico boasts poinsettias and a snowman while evergreen landscaping maintains a vibrant version of the traditional red and green color scheme.

Upon entry the grand staircase draws guests’ attention to sweeping swags of greenery, sparkling lights, and festive bursts of gilded ribbons. The staircase’s craftsman features and striking iron balusters are accentuated by the season’s garland. And the home’s peaceful moss green wall color not only reflects the Gehls’ more laid-back character, but also serves as a softly coordinated backdrop to Christmas tones. “We chose moss green because it’s soothing. We used various shades of it throughout the whole house,” Cindy says.

The Gehl home is a natural host to holiday décor, with green tones on every wall and established accents of red in the home’s traditional Oriental style rugs. Walking through to the formal living room, one of Cindy’s favorite red rugs leads the tinsel-town tone. With merry throw pillows on the mirror image sofas, stockings hung by the chimney with care, and a reindeer centerpiece, this room maintains an elevated vibe. In the corner, a towering tree is topped with gold swirling ribbons which trail down all sides, and it is decorated in colorful, 1950’s style blown-glass Radko ornaments. They represent everything from the Gehls’ trips to Ireland (where Bob’s ancestors are from) with a Guinness ornament, to miniature dachshunds representing their long-time family pet, to pianos, and college mascots for their children’s respective universities.


(above) photos by Med Dement

Walking through to the kitchen, custom cabinetry  and granite counters anchor the light room in warm tones, while several of Cindy’s mother’s Christmas decorations take prominence. Above the cooktop’s hood, her mother’s heirloom reindeer flank a poinsettia arrangement. 

The Gehls’ holiday snowman collection groups together on the adjacent bar. On the counter opposite the cooktop is a ceramic, lighted Christmas tree, which Cindy’s grandmother actually made in a ceramics class. “It’s missing a few bulbs and might have a chip or two, but we’ll always put that out,” Cindy smiles.


The Keeping Room (above) In the adjoining keeping room, a vaulted ceiling and the continued moss green color give the room an airy feel. This room is where the family likes to display some of their favorite holiday traditions. A sentimental Christmas tree is decorated in ornaments reflective of the children’s various interests, vacations, and accomplishments.

The tree in the keeping room is decorated in sentimental keepsakes. Every year since they were born, Allison and Kevin have received meaningful ornaments from Bob and Cindy and their grandmother, and these adorn the tree. “We love to decorate both trees,” Cindy says, “It’s always an event and we do a lot of reminiscing. We try to wait for the kids to get home to decorate them together.”

On a nearby bench is one of the first quilts that Cindy ever completed, trimmed in Christmas packages. A long sofa table in front of the window is home to their collection of Christmas village buildings. With a fire roaring in the fireplace and a clear view to the kitchen and back porch, this keeping room is a favorite place to spend time together.

Upstairs, the landing holds one of Allison’s childhood Christmas traditions. “The Vanderbear Family” is a collection of stuffed teddy bears dressed in old timey, Christmas-style New England garb. “I got a new member of the family every year for a little while,” Allison recalls. “We put them out every year,” says Cindy.

Beyond the landing, Allison and Kevin’s bedrooms, an office, and guestroom are decorated
as well. Each room still gets its own Christmas tree, with ornaments specific to each inhabitant. 
For Kevin, who is now a professional sports broadcaster, it’s basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, and the like. For Allison, it’s pianos and sheet music, reflective of her musical talent and college major.

In the days leading up to Christmas, the Gehls finish their shopping, enjoy holiday baking, and watch plenty of Christmas movies. They sometimes gather in the front room to sing carols while Allison plays the piano. On Christmas Eve the Gehls enjoy a California tradition of crab and pasta for dinner. On Christmas Day, they have a traditional Christmas dinner. “It’s just the best time of year!” Cindy says.

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