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Southern Living Idea House
What: Take a tour of the home featured in August's Southern Living magazine, decorated for Christmas
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Achasta, 150 Birch River Drive, Dahlonega
How much: $5
More info: 706-867-1660
DAHLONEGA — When you first walk into the Southern Living Idea Home in the Achasta community near Dahlonega, the first thing that strikes you are two wing chairs decorated with elaborate floral fabric.
Up until now, these chairs were the dominant feature in the room. But now, thick greenery decorated with red and gold Christmas ornaments compete for your attention as you step into the home, which is decorated for the holidays.
Opened in June as the latest Southern Living magazine Idea House, the home recently has been given a Christmas makeover and is now not just a showplace for architecture and outdoor living space, but also for holiday decorating ideas.
Michael Reader, floral designer with Carithers Flowers in Atlanta, designed the space, playing off the green, blue and Chinese red touches throughout the home.
Admission proceeds from the home will benefit Dahlonega's Holly Theater.
Adam Brunning, sales director at Achasta, said the house has been one of the most popular Southern Living idea houses to date.
We took a tour of the home, which has had more than 24,000 people pass through its doors since June, to get an idea of what a professional might create if let loose in our own homes. The result? Lessons in playing up color, shape and scale, depending on the room. And don't be afraid to do it up a bit — the holiday season only comes around once a year.
Go green — with greenery
Lots of flat spaces in the Idea House are covered with greenery for the season. But don't feel like you need to be lopping off branches from your real Christmas tree to get this effect — the home has good-quality fake greens that can be reused each year and will stand the test of time.
If you like the look of greens but don't have the budget for high-quality ones that can be easily cleaned and put away for the next year, focus on one part of the home at a time, eventually building up a cohesive collection for each room you want to decorate.
Don't shy from square
The kitchen lends itself to all kinds of quirky holiday decorations, from a cookie cutter-decorated tabletop tree on the counter to a square wreath mimicking the panes on the window. A small tree in the center of the home's kitchen is decorated simply with red ribbon holding Christmas-themed cookie cutters, while nearby a synthetic boxwood wreath in a nontraditional shape adds a contemporary feel to the room's decorations.
"Everybody's always looking for something different when it comes to the holidays," Reader said. "So something that's a square wreath is a novelty."
Wrapped up in ribbon
If you know how to make your own gift bows, then it's easy to embrace wire-edged bows this time of year. But this home goes one step further with ribbon design — the staircase from the first floor to the second-floor study is wrapped with thick olive-colored fabric ribbon. It's gathered in places and the effect is luxurious.
"Fabric ribbons are very popular because of their texture, and it gives a whole different definition," he said. "It adds a richer, more opulent texture, I think."
A table of treasures
One way to add holiday spirit to your dining room table without adding to what's on top of it is to focus on the chairs. At the Achasta home, Reader tied green velvet ribbon to the backs of the chairs and hung Christmas ornaments off them, which echoed the colors in the living room it opened into.
All a glitter
Who says you can't have a Christmas tree in your bedroom?
"The tree should be more of a subtle touch in the bedroom," Reader said.
The Idea Home has a small tree in one corner that is decorated to complement the ice-blue walls, and the silver accents shimmer in the sunlight flowing into the room. The blue hue is a newer color, Reader said, and is sometimes mixed with greens or chocolate browns instead of silver.
"We picked up all that in the room because there's almost a bit of sea foam green and ice blue in that."
Note that the tree is on the small side — about 5 feet tall — but the ornaments are oversized, pulling the monochromatic tones of the tree into the entire design of the room. Heck, with a tree this pretty, why not leave it up all year?