Tinsel-Trimmed Traditions

By Katie Faulkner  |  Photography by Morgan Nowland

Bruce and Faith Baird

For Bruce and Faith Baird, Christmas is a very special time of year. They have many traditions they still share with their daughter, Lauren, as well as with friends and family. For Faith, Christmas was always a big deal. Coming from a large family with six other siblings, her childhood home had many traditions which she carried into her own family. Bruce, who has always loved the holiday season, says Faith upped the ante a bit once they started dating. “She really Christmas-fied me!” he laughs. Together, and then with Lauren, they made their own traditions to add to the season.

In this charming 1920s Tudor-esque home, the Bairds renovated nearly every room, keeping things authentic, while adding their own style. “We searched for a long time,” Bruce explains. “We knew we wanted a historic home that hadn’t been updated yet, because we wanted to do the work ourselves. We wanted archways, wide trim, and a fireplace.” As Bruce was driving in to work one morning, he saw a sale sign in the front yard of this home and called the realtor as soon as he got to his store. “We saw it that night and bought it the next day!” Together, they renovated the whole house, doing most of the work themselves. Faith shares, “We love color! When we moved in, everything was beige, so we painted every room.”

Having lived here for 35 years now, they’ve really perfected their holiday routines. After entering the arched front door, guests are greeted by the cheerful and grandiose appearance of the living room. In this room, painted a light blue over a damasked textured wallpaper, the main Christmas tree and massive fireplace are on full display.

“We’ve had this tree for over 20 years. It’s not a pre-lit tree, so Bruce strings all the lights. I think there are about 4,000 lights total,” Faith says. Then the task of decorating the tree falls to Faith. “It’s about a three-day process, but I don’t let anyone else do it!” she laughs. She strategically decorates the tree in sections. Her section is filled with ornaments representing Mamma Mia! and disco, travel, pug dogs, trips to New York, and homemade ornaments from her mother and their daughter Lauren. In Bruce’s section, there are ornaments representing Wheel of Fortune, Krispy Kreme, The Varsity, I Love Lucy, and popcorn – just a few of their favorite things.

The stunning, sparkling tree also features original Radko ornaments, the whole suite from The Nutcracker, and tokens from all of Faith and Bruce’s travels. “Every time we go somewhere new, we get an ornament,” Bruce says. Also, when they first began dating, Faith started a collection of handmade wooden ornaments which the couple has put on their tree every year since.

The mantel sprawls with sparkling fruit, jingle bells, and ribbons in perfect coordination with the colors of the tree. “Between keeping the fireplace lit and all the lights on the tree, we actually end up running the air conditioner around the holidays,” Bruce laughs.

This room bears witness to special traditions every Christmas Eve and morning. Bruce, Faith, and Lauren exchange family gifts here on Christmas Eve with snacks, wearing the same flannel night shirts each year. In fact, gift giving is an art in the Baird home. Lauren usually gifts her parents with a trip to The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville or a showing of Cirque du Soleil around the holiday season. For Lauren, they wrap her gifts in different colors of polka dotted paper and line them up around the tree like a train. And each year, they give her one gift that wasn’t on her list, which they put in “the tube.” Faith explains, “Years ago, we wanted to give her something but knew she would guess what it was by the shape of the box. So we stuffed it into this cardboard shipping tube we had. It became a tradition after that, and every year she writes the year and what the gift was on the tube.”

The living room opens to the formal dining room, where the bright green walls add a cheerfully coordinated backdrop to the Christmas table setting. With fresh flowers and decorations dripping from the chandelier, this tablescape pops with yuletide red tones. Waterford crystal and Herend Queen Victoria dishes top the antique mahogany furniture. “This is where we eat for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bruce cooks both of those meals. And anyone is welcome. If some of Lauren’s friends don’t have somewhere to go, or any of Bruce’s colleagues, they’re always invited,” Faith says.

In the next room, the more casual breakfast nook and adjacent kitchen are both themed in MacKenzie-Childs décor. The distinctive black and white checked patterns are found in the draperies and seat cushions, as well as this room’s Christmas tree. “We saw the MacKenzie-Childs shop on a trip to New York once and just fell in love with it,” Bruce explains. “It’s very whimsical and fun.”

Through one of the archways is the kitchen. This room was totally remodeled, and they continued the MacKenzie-Childs décor into this room. Bold black tile countertops and stark white cabinetry are wrapped in the warm yellows and reds characteristic of this style. Above the sink, ornaments of the same tones are suspended, and wreaths hang on the outside of the window. “Every room has just a touch of Christmas,” Faith says.

Down the extra-wide hallway are all three bedrooms, including Lauren’s old room. First is the guest room, which, during the holiday season is themed as the “retro room” and filled with nostalgic holiday décor. The tree features antique Shiny Brite-style ornaments and a few vintage cars.

In the master at the end of the hall, a rich purple hue paints the walls. In the corner, a very special piece of Christmas decoration is displayed: a nativity set that Bruce has had since he was a child. “When I was about nine or so, I got this nativity set. And every time my dad would take us into town, I would buy another piece for it. They were only a dollar, and I was excited to complete the set,” he says. Hosting family and friends, attending church events, and spending time together as a family mark the holiday season for the Bairds. “It’s just the best time of the year!” they agree.

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