A Merry Little Christmas

By Candice Graham
Photos by Med Dement


They’ve strung glowing lights on the mantles and hung evergreen wreaths on doors.
Read on to see how the Dibrells have set the scene for a holly jolly Christmas.


Gingerbread house peaks and arches make the exterior of the Dibrell home the ideal setting for a radiantly decorated Christmas season. “We like having privacy here on the mountain,” says Kelly, who chose the stacked-stone home with her husband because of its mountainous locale and its proximity to his job. Situated on a scenic spot, the home’s cheerful holiday décor features potted Christmas trees flanking the front door and a gold ornament-clad wreath.

“We have kids so we always want to make the holidays really fun,” Kelly says. Through the front door, a beaming tree rests in the center of the foyer. Elemental touches such as burlap ribbon, natural woven ornaments, poinsettias, twigs, and pinecones keep the vibe warm and rustic. “I wanted the tree to fit with the colors we have here in the woods,” Kelly says. “If I was going to do a themed tree, I thought it would be fun to keep it natural.”

A bough of mistletoe hangs from the entryway ceiling, and resting below the tree’s Douglas Fir branches are presents to be opened on Christmas morning. Coordinated wrapping paper keeps the natural theme intact, while pops of crimson come through in the tree skirt and ribbon. An open floorplan allows the tree to gleam from both the living room and adjacent dining room, where the Dibrells host Christmas dinner each year.

“We usually have 20 to 25 people here on Christmas,” Kelly explains. A round dining table lends a warm, intimate feel to the easygoing setting. Leather high-back chairs with nail head trim allow up to eight family members to gather closely with comfort and ease. A globe pendant lends a tranquil glow, while flickering tea candles are used as a centerpiece set among branches of pine. The buffet table is similarly draped in a pine-branch runner dotted with pinecones and glittering silver Christmas trees.

While hosting family Christmas has always been the plan for the Dibrells since they moved back to the area, living on Signal Mountain in wintertime has presented logistical challenges. “When we first moved back, I was so excited to have my whole family over for Christmas,” Kelly recalls. “We woke up on Christmas morning and snow was falling and it was so beautiful. But halfway through the day we realized it was getting heavier. At about 4:00, I realized that no one could get to us,” she says. That Christmas ended up consisting of cereal for dinner and a glass of wine by the fire, but it’s a memory Kelly looks back on with laughs.

The nearby living room is washed in a well-balanced color palette of rich sienna and deep taupe. Family-friendly furniture means the room is polished, but far from fussy. Accessories like throw pillows are on seasonal rotation in the living room, with knit snowman pillows adorning a chair near the fireplace. Illuminated by glowing garland and flanked by bundles of barky twigs, the fireplace emanates a feeling of comfort and ease. A pennant with the word ‘believe’ is a wink to Santa Claus.

The kitchen and attached den is where the Dibrell family casually gathers on most days. Tall glass windows to the woodsy yard set a serene scene and a floor-to-ceiling stacked stone fireplace lends cottagey romance. Five red and green stockings hang from the mantle, waiting to be filled with surprises and treats.

A wraparound kitchen countertop can accommodate a group and makes an ideal place for casual meals and meal prep. Pine cabinetry features knotty spots for toned-down formality, and has a few beveled glass doors for variation. Even in the kitchen, the Christmas theme is not overlooked. “My kids did the snowman pictures over the door and they come out at this time each year,” Kelly says.

Adding to the kid-friendly vibe, a children’s playroom upstairs is festooned in a winsome holiday style. The children’s tree adds glitz to the room with whimsical peppermint-striped ribbon and mismatched heirloom ornaments. “It’s a fun child’s tree,” Kelly says. “I like the look of the hodgepodge of ornaments and the lit topper.” Reindeer, Santa, and snowmen pillows and a toy nativity scene complete the space.

As for this Christmas season, the Dibrells hope for snow, but only a sprinkling. “No more canceled Christmas plans!,” Kelly says. And keeping yuletide traditions alive, they’ll open matching pajamas on Christmas Eve before falling asleep to visions of sugarplums.


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