Storied family heirlooms, a dynamic mix of fresh flowers and greenery, and a unifying timeless color palette make for easy holiday elegance
As president and marketing director of Tipton & Hurst, Howard Hurst and his wife Stacy know the jam-packed calendar of celebrations this time of year means it will be peak season for their floral- and event-design business. However, when it comes to their own home’s holiday decorations, they not only approach the project with all the creative skill and resources available to them, but also strive to create a haven for themselves—a festive-yet-tranquil refuge from the hustle and bustle.
Crisp and Classic
When they deck their own halls, the Hursts keep the look consistent with the restrained color palette of blues and whites seen in their home’s interiors. “Since we do sell so much color, I tend to choose simple for my own home to make it a little more serene,” Howard Hurst says. “Our house is white with wood floors, so it’s very simple,” he adds. So, the blue accents were a no-brainer for designer Susan Walsh of Bear-Hill Interiors when she worked with the couple to outfit the home. “Stacy loves blue,” she says, “and blue and white is such a classic combination in Southern design.” While the holiday palette may veer from traditional red and green, the Hursts’ need for minimal visual noise in their home during their busiest season makes it ideal. “Sometimes people don’t think about using their existing décor as a cue,” says Walsh, “but it’s a great way to give a home a seamless look, with none of the elements competing for attention.”
For holiday greenery and flowers, the design team at Tipton & Hurst—led by Chris Norwood—used an all-white palette and all-live plants. “We went with everything that’s subtle and textural—not bright colors,” Hurst says. The floral arrangements include hydrangea, amaryllis, Casablanca lilies, and white French tulips. For the greenery, Hurst requested that his personal favorite be the dominant element: “I love boxwood, so I always order boxwood for all of our wreaths and garlands. It gives everything a tailored, simple look.” Noble fir, balsam fir, magnolia, birch branches, deciduous holly, and pinecones are layered in with the boxwood for added interest.
Many of the Hursts’ furnishings are family heirlooms from Howard’s family, some of which first belonged to his great-great grandmother. In reflecting on the heritage pieces, Walsh says, “The longer I do design, the more interested I am in vintage and antique elements. They offer a story; I always like a story.” Along with the memories and associations these pieces evoke, the family treasures placed together tell the story of multiple generations at once. Hurst remembers, for instance, that his grandmother’s favorite color was also blue, like his wife’s. His grandmother’s portrait hangs in his dining room, where her own grandmother’s silver service is still in use. The table that now stands in the entry also dates to Howard’s great-great grandparents, who were the mayoral family of Little Rock in 1860, prior to the Civil War. According to Walsh, incorporating inherited antiques not only makes a home look unique and timeless, it is first and foremost “a way to honor our ancestors.”
Like the holiday décor, the home’s design is a direct reflection of the Hursts’ own taste. “I tell my staff that the mark of a good design is that it reflects the homeowner and not the designer,” Howard says. The couple’s affinity for a classic-yet-current look was an ideal fit with what Walsh identifies as her firm’s “cleaner approach to traditional design.” To achieve this, Walsh says, she lightened the formerly beige walls to a white that is a match with the trim color, “for a lighter fresher look.” She also introduced a mirrored finish on the cocktail table, painted the frames of the living room chairs, and upholstered Howard’s grandmother’s twin settees in a blue, silk velvet. “The home could have easily been very old-school traditional,” Walsh says, “but we wanted to give it a lift—to blend old with new to create a cohesive look.”
For the Hurst family, the real celebration begins on Christmas morning, after the holiday rush has subsided at their central Arkansas stores, which are open every single day from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Their annual tradition is to gather for a breakfast of ebelskivers, a Danish food—think: spherical pancakes—that is part of Stacy’s family lineage. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the couple also hosts a gathering of their staff. Hurst explains the timing, like a man true to his trade: “We time it this way, so that the florals are fresh.” While the holiday flowers may fade, one thing is certain, the timeless appeal of the Hurst’s home will endure.
Interior design Susan Walsh, Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com
Accessories, holiday décor, and floral Tipton & Hurst, Conway, Little Rock, North Little Rock, West Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, tiptonhurst.com
Architectural consulting Ward Lile, Ward A. Lile Design, Little Rock, (501) 680-4342
Fabrics Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com
Furniture and lighting Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Window coverings Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale, (501) 455-2216