A Colorful Tradition

Story: Tiffany Burgess  |  

In the South, the holidays are as much about preparation as they are celebration. Little Rock-based designer Tobi Fairley and her mother, Beverly Wells, are no exception. “I have always loved Christmas and the traditions that go along with it,” says Beverly, who hosts the season’s family gatherings in the Sheridan home she shares with her husband, David. “We spend days decorating the house, setting out china and ironing linens, but we have fun doing it,” says Fairley.



However, just because this mother-daughter team relishes the preparation rituals doesn’t mean they always stick to tradition when it comes to color and décor. “We really try to mix it up each year,” says Beverly. “We’ve even had pink and orange trees in the past.” For years, the two have been dreaming up cheerful decorations that are as inventive as they are inviting. “I approach holiday décor the same way I approach any design project,” says Fairley, who begins with a color palette or key piece of inspiration.


For this scene, the vivid turquoise and kelly green palette was inspired by the Wells’  furnishings and aquamarine-painted kitchen cabinetry, as well as a green-and-cream fabric swatch from Fairley’s new line of home textiles. Both mother and daughter loved the fabric and used it to make the brilliant, striped runners for the dining table. While drawing on the home’s furnishings was a great way to make the palette flow, the bold green was also a nod to a traditional red and green Christmas palette. Whether it’s jadeite and Fenton Art Glass pieces from Fairley’s cake plate collection or a pair of turquoise lamps that grace the dining room buffet, the cheerful jewel tones add a sophisticated whimsy throughout the space.



Beverly also appreciates fresh flowers and greenery, and incorporated everything from hydrangeas to pine wreaths in the two rooms. She planted paperwhites, a classic holiday bloom, in a large tureen that allows her to enjoy their fragrance while working in the kitchen.



As for family traditions, both mother and daughter hope to pass their love of holiday preparation and decorating on to the next generation, including Fairley’s daughter, Ellison. “Mom was always so patient and taught me how to cook and be a great hostess,” says Fairley. “It’s a tradition I hope to continue.”


Design Resources


Interior design, art Tobi Fairley Interior Design, Little Rock


Paint Custom colors from Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide


Table runner fabric Tobi Fairley Home, TobiFairleyHome.com


Window treatments Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale


The Garden Home for the Holidays: At Moss Mountain Farm near Little Rock, designer P. Allen Smith readies his Greek Revival-style residence to celebrate the season


Stock Up: Ready your rooms for holiday cheer with a host of bright red and green wares sure to bring a smile on Christmas morning


Festive Fare: A Fayetteville designer uses bright colors and sparkling accessories to outfit her cottage-style kitchen in the shades of the season

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