Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Chip Jones |
Designers Mara Lamb Malcolm and Retha Lamb create a classic Christmas setting for beloved family friends in North Central Arkansas
For years, Mara Lamb Malcolm and her mother Retha Lamb decorated homes for the holidays. And, while the mother-daughter design duo continues to grow their interior design business, they have dramatically pared down their number of Christmas décor clients. In fact, there is just one client in Malcolm’s hometown of Melbourne that they continue to help decorate for the season. “We have done this family’s home for years and it’s so special to continue to help them and to do this in my hometown,” Malcolm says.
Malcolm, who is now based in Little Rock, and Lamb, who still resides in north central Arkansas, take great pride in this particular project, striving to create a simple, yet stunning Southern Christmas setting for the family. “Red and green are my go-to colors,” Malcolm says of her holiday palette philosophy. The hues flow throughout the home this time of year—from yard upon yard of red velvet ribbon to tartan linens in the dining space. As for the rest of the design, Malcolm notes, “My mom so heavily influenced my design style. She would bring in whatever greenery was in the woods around our house and turn it into something beautiful. We still try to use what’s available.” For example, they used greenery Malcolm collected from her brother’s farm in Pleasant Grove, hedge apples from her best friend’s family, and loads of magnolia branches from another close friend’s home. “It takes a village,” she laughs. “That’s just one of the cool things about being from a small town,” she adds of everyone’s willingness to contribute.
Get the Blues
Even though red and green are Malcolm’s choice colors for the season, she never misses an opportunity to incorporate a bit of blue. “I use a ton of blue in my everyday design work, and I especially love cobalt with red and green,” she says. She found a collection of blue-and-white Santa figurines at Mid-towne Antique Mall in Little Rock and mixes those with the Wedgwood “Crown Sapphire” plates at each setting. Of course, the centerpiece—designed to fit inside a blue-and-white bowl—garners the most attention at the table. Malcolm carried the same fruit, berries, and greenery that are seen throughout the home into this arrangement.
Personalize Your Pieces
“For years, we have put the children’s names in the tree,” Malcolm says. “This year, we decided to spell them out on red velvet at the front entry.” A wooden vessel containing pomegranates, apples, and oranges adds to the festive décor.
Go to the Garden
Just as Malcolm scavenged greenery, pinecones, and berries for the garlands and arrangement, she also hunted for pieces to create a wreath to hang on a glass-front bookcase. Starting with a faux fresh base, she added magnolia, nandina from the homeowner’s yard, and dried hydrangea, which came from her father’s garden.
Create a Holiday Swag of Your Own!
On the blog, Malcolm shows us how to create a festive door decoration in just a few simple steps. www.athomearkansas.com/blog
Dede’s Peanut Brittle
It’s a holiday tradition for the Lambs to enjoy (and share!) peanut brittle. Their timeless recipe comes from Lucille Walker, the mother of Retha Lamb’s lifelong best friend. Follow the directions below to create your own batch this season.
2 cups raw peanuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup white syrup
1 ½ heaping teaspoons of baking soda
Combine peanuts, sugar, and syrup in a cast-iron skillet. Bring to a boil and then turn the fire down to medium. Stir continuously and continue boiling over medium heat until peanuts are brown. Remove the mixture from the stove and add soda, stirring until it dissolves completely in mixture. Pour the mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet and spread evenly. Allow to cool completely, and then break into pieces.
Christmas décor Retha Lamb and Mara Lamb Malcolm, Lamb’s Interior Design, Inc., central and north Arkansas, (501) 813-0202, lambsinteriordesign.com
Accessories and art Lamb’s Interior Design, Inc., central and north Arkansas, (501) 813-0202, lambsinteriordesign.com
Fresh greenery—garlands The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com