BY CATHERINE BLUMBERG
Special to The Sumter Item
The Holiday House Tour, presented by the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter, is a tradition in Sumter. The Council is proud to resume this annual event on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On this 70th-annual tour, homes constructed between 1948 to 1990 will feature traditional, transitional, farmhouse and eclectic styles. All of these homes have had some remodeling, generally adding a gathering room to suit their families’ needs, while maintaining the homes’ original charm.
Homeowners’ Christmas interior décor will be wide ranging — from slightly minimalist to full-blown maximalist. Whatever your taste preferences, there will be something to catch your eye.
136 Tucson Drive
A visit to the home of Wendy and Kirby Brinson immediately imparts a sense of rapport and comfort. The midcentury tri-level home, blended with modern style, sits atop a knoll surrounded by a gracious and inviting landscape. The home’s interior, bathed with wall colors in soothing hues of taupe, blue and yellow, encourages relaxation. When entering the home, there are visible vestiges of the home’s mid-century origin. The mid-level living room features the original black-and-white marble firebox, and the room’s ceiling molding is picture-rail style. At one end of the living room is a stately dining table which will be set for Christmas dinner in colors of green and gold with a woodsy theme. The Christmas tree in the dining room will be in colors of green and gold as well. The room will also feature a nativity scene.
The dining room opens into the pale-yellow kitchen, which has been completely updated while still offering a glimmer of the past, as it features antique brick backsplashes. The brick came from century-old kilns in Oklahoma used in the manufacture of charcoal. With the exception of curating the brick to fit, they are totally unchanged, imparting a strong sense of history.
The laundry room has cretonne curtains in bold patterns which are repeated in the hall bathroom fabrics. In the bathroom, the floor and wall tiles are original, in perfect condition and are in complete harmony with a new stone countertop around the lavatory sink basin.
The master bedroom, located in the home’s upper level, is painted in taupe and features a king-size bed with bolster pillows in earthy organic colors and textures. Above the bed is a lovely crafted monogrammed window valance. Beside the bed are three pictures in ochre hues of downtown Sumter’s Opera House, the Thomas Sumter Memorial in front of the courthouse and Swan Lake Iris Gardens, all photographed by Wendy. Hanging from the picture rail in an area where there is open floor space, these framed photos seem to say, “Stand back and look at me.”
There are two more bedrooms on this floor, and each is warm and cozy. An antique iron bed looks like it should be featured in an upscale home fashion magazine. Actually it was rescued by Wendy’s father from a debris pile many years ago. Since then, it has been through numerous stylistic changes, and it still looks just perfect, having withstood the test of time.
On the lowest floor, a large, comfortable contemporary-styled den completes the home. This family centered living space, where the grandchildren’s toys are stored, is where the family Christmas tree will delight all of Wendy and Kirby’s seven grandchildren. Some of the decorations in the room will include a snow-flocked white tree decorated in traditional colors, along with a small Christmas village.
In addition to gorgeous décor inside the home, outdoor Christmas trees around the pool and patio area will ignite your Christmas spirit.
255 Freedom Boulevard
A visit to the Newman-Bellamy home begins with a lovely walkway and arbor leading to the front porch. Sporting a blue-and-white theme, the porch welcomes the season and guests with gusto. The front door, adorned with an attractive wreath, is flanked on both sides with cottage-like benches, Christmas pillows and lush seasonal greenery.
Terry and her husband, Jerry, bought their house about two years ago, and within that time, they have transformed the 1990 structure into an open-concept farmhouse-styled home. This is most evident in the hub of the house. What was once a completely separate living room, kitchen and dining room is now an area where the rooms merge with an easy flow into a modified open floor plan.
The dark wood beamed ceilings in the family room complement the rich hues of the heart-of-pine floors which were rescued from former factories. Each vintage floorboard was expertly planed before the floor was laid, resulting in flooring that meets today’s building standards.
While the family room has architectural highlights in dark colors, Terry wanted something lighter in her kitchen area. Being an artist, Terry has experience combining paints; she used this skill to mix her own paint for the kitchen area, which is now a contemporary two-tone gray.
Christmas décor in the home’s central area features a nativity scene, Santa collections and Chinoiserie blue-and-white porcelain plates, vases, ornaments, teapots and pitchers. Terry has mimicked the Chinoiserie look in an oyster shell pineapple design that is framed and hanging by her kitchen peninsula.
Be sure to look at her feather paintings which are framed and hung in a grouping. On each feather is painted a tiny, delicate design. Surrounding these beautiful objects will be an abundance of fresh traditional Christmas greenery.
There are two soothingly simple contemporary bathrooms. Atop one of the bathroom vanities is an elegant blue-and-white round vessel sink, while the other bathroom vanity has a drop-in sink. In this bathroom, Terry has crafted lighting made from canning jars, and the vanity mirror is framed in wood of several varieties and colors.
The home’s guest room has a clean and slightly minimalist appearance. Hanging over the bed is a framed print of a Ray Davenport painting of Sumter as it looked in 1951. From the 500 prints in this series, Terry bought number 52, in honor of her birth year.
Jerry’s favorite room is where he likes to spend free time. This room features a pool table and opens onto the deck with deck railing designed by Terry. At this location, where there is ample seating space, visitors will be offered spiced tea, water and a snack. Those who take time for a lengthier visit can relax and enjoy the backyard scenery which includes a view of the Japanese garden, Koi pond and tea room.
There is much to see and enjoy at this home.
Collins Home, 115 Nash St.
Having survived cancer five times as well as survived other life-altering health conditions, Jane Collins is proud of her 84 years of life. Jane is quite family oriented and is a staunch supporter of the Sumter community, especially the arts. Jane says that her Christmas décor represents her community involvement and is “a thanksgiving for the seasons of my life” — the highlights and the low points.
Jane’s dining room table is set with vintage Dresden Schumann Bavaria china that belonged to her grandmother. Before her grandmother passed away, family members were encouraged to identify some of their favorite household items, and Jane chose this delicate, cheery, floral-patterned china. With colors similar to that of the china’s flowers, the dining table’s centerpiece is a very merry Santa. This Santa, resting on a lovely table runner woven by her daughter-in-law, Erin, blends well with the tableware and is of great significance, as it was her first Christmas decoration after she married.
Dear to Jane’s heart is her Disco Dude Santa figurine, who stands in the center of her Clothtique Santa Collection. This Santa, attired in a purple shirt and red pants, stands with his right arm reaching high above his head, with the iconic “disco finger” pointing upward. Disco Dude reminds Jane of her husband, Gary, dressed in his purple shirt and red pants along with their pet parakeet perched atop Gary’s head, entertaining family and friends with disco dancing moves.
Jane recently traveled to New Zealand. In her sunroom is a table displaying items made by the Indigenous Māori people of New Zealand, who represent about 14% of New Zealand’s population. The history of the Māori began with the arrival of Polynesian settlers in a series of ocean migrations in canoes starting around the late 13th or 14th centuries.
When asked how she became interested in traveling to this part of the world, she replied, “In high school, I learned about the Māori cave paintings and was fascinated.” She feels most fortunate to realize the dream of laying eyes on the artwork of the Māori people.
While Jane has only one Māori print, the walls of her home are covered with pictures and paintings by many artists of all genres. They include works by numerous regional artists like Bobby Adams, Denise Greer, Deane Ackerman, Rose Metz and Mildred White. Along with a plethora of artists’ works are many pictures of family and friends.
The lighted village display in Jane’s den is an overview of her life. Each structure in the village is symbolic. The church is a reminder of her husband’s first bout with colon cancer. She bought it to give him hope, as they both sang in the church choir and taught Sunday school. Some village buildings represent vocations: the newspaper office for Jane’s time working at The Item, the school building for her career in education, the library as a reminder of her son’s first job and the medical buildings reminiscent of her daughter’s career. When you tour Jane’s home, ask her about some of the other buildings in the village collection. She likes to explain that her village is not for the purpose of being frivolous. “They are for family history. As I put them out, I tell my grandson the stories of our family history as part of his heritage.”
Christmas trees, prominent throughout Jane’s home, are all very intentional. When Jane’s daughter Stephanie passed away, Jane erected a Christmas tree filled with angels as a means of coping with the loss of her daughter. Over the years, Jane increased the number of trees in her home, and today, every tree includes an angel, a nutcracker (in memory of the years Jane was involved with the “Nutcracker” ballet), birds for her husband and his parakeet, and a Santa because he symbolizes the spirit of giving and the gift of life at Christmas time.
Deprill Home, 32 Frank Clarke St.
The Council of Garden Clubs is excited once again to have David Deprill’s home on tour. Visitors to his home always enjoy his themed Christmas trees and rooms. But there will be some differences for this tour.
When guests arrive, the beautifully manicured walkway and outdoor area will entice them to come inside. After entering the foyer, guests will feel as though they are in fairyland, where sprites might be gamboling throughout the hallways. To the right of the foyer will be David’s gorgeous living room and sunroom. David usually has his player piano in the sunroom, but this year, the piano won’t be there. You will need to see how the updated sunroom looks minus the piano. Don’t worry. You will still get to see the piano.
On the left side of the foyer is the dining room, which will overflow with winter opulence. In this room, expect to see brilliant crystal décor mixed with snowy whites, dining chairs covered in sumptuous fabric and shimmering and shining ornaments. Curated with layers of pattern and textures, the dining room will be aglow with glam.
As in Christmases past, the hallway will feature a salute to the military, as David’s grandfather, William “Bill” Reynolds, was a fighter pilot in World War II. Years later, Mr. Reynolds became a self-taught artist; he is best known for his aviation works, and some of these are displayed in the hallway area, along with a tree decorated to honor the United States Air Force. Off the main hallway, the bathroom will feature a Christmas tree called Bubbles. This cute and creative tree makes it a pleasure to visit the washroom.
David says, “I decorate my home because I love doing it, and if it brings joy to others, it makes me especially happy.” A continuation of David’s gift of joy will be experienced in his kitchen where he will be serving hot wassail punch, right beside the upside-down Christmas tree. The kitchen will look and smell divine.
Birdhouses, plaid throws and nature-themed elements will be in the den near the cozy fireplace. It’s the kind of room where one wants to take off their shoes, prop up their feet and stay a while.
Most rooms in the Deprill home feature some type of animated décor which go with the theme of the room, such as elves icing a cake in the kitchen. Additional themes are nutcrackers, snowmen, peacocks and Mardi Gras. David chose the Mardi Gras theme simply because it’s different.
There is an abundance of ornate detail and “one-of-a-kind” items at this home. In the living room, dog lovers will admire an original oil painting of a stately and proud greyhound above the fireplace mantel. Others will be fascinated with the beauty of his Santa collections from Katherine’s Collection, Mark Roberts, Fitz and Floyd, and others. Everything in this house exudes classic, timeless design. Eliciting a sense of history, his well-put-together interior is formal, yet welcoming.
Come be a part of the joy!
Tour tickets are $20 each and may be purchased on the day of the tour at any tour home or at the Alice Boyle Garden Center, 842 W. Liberty St., Sumter, South Carolina. For further information call, (803) 983-4217.