By Ann Cipperly
A medley of cherished ornaments from childhood, vintage trees and Santa collections set among antiques in traditional splendor create an enchanting Christmas at the home of Jim and Alicia Storbeck in Auburn.
After years of traveling around the globe for their businesses, the Storbecks developed a plan for their dream home. “We wanted a stone home because we wanted to create a house that looked historic and old,” says Jim. “The rounded archways, stone and ironwork used in the house are modeled after Spanish architecture we have seen in Mexico.”
Covering the columns with stones was an idea from a mission trip with their builder. When they saw huge round brick columns at the Hotel Antigua, Jim and Alicia knew they wanted that at their home.
Built two and a half years ago, the stone structure appears timeless nestled along the lake at White Oaks. Every room in the back of their home has a sweeping view of the lake.
Brilliant stained glass and old wooden doors appear ageless. A hand-carved wine cellar door opens to the pantry, while old church doors lead to the basement. A door with portholes provides a peek of the grounds.
“We were determined to build character into this home,” says Alicia. “We moved out of a historic house and wanted to build the character of an old house into a new home.”
Tile inlayed with wood forms the unique kitchen floor enhanced with the addition of coins collected around the world. The tile and wood combination is frequently used in Latin America.
Mexican plates in “Talavera” pattern adorn walls and a sink in the powder room. The vibrant hued sink was wrapped and hand carried home on a plane.
In the entrance, an antique sideboard showcases a collection of lustrous mercury-glass Christmas trees and a stunning arrangement of pink roses, blue and pink hydrangeas and berries flanked by small mercury glass vases with pink roses.
Near the fireplace in the living room, a towering tree is striking with blue, pink and white angel ornaments from Alicia’s childhood. When she was growing up, her mother, Jane Thrash, called Alicia “Angel” and gave her angel ornaments every year. Alicia delights in unpacking the treasures each Christmas.
A sparkling crystal chandelier glows over the dining room table, stunningly dressed for a festive celebration with gold chargers, exquisite gold trimmed china and places marked with ornaments displaying place cards. A cupcake holder is filled with small gleaming ornaments, while tiny silvery ones are gathered as napkin holders. Cranberry glasses add a splash of color.
Seasonal fresh greenery is interspersed with pink roses and hydrangeas in a silver compote on a mirror base setting the tone for an elegant repast. Crystal trees and silver ornaments surround the base of the centerpiece.
A white-frocked silver tree with glittering silver ornaments provides a festive look in the piano room, while the tree in the den is decked with whimsical Santa ornaments.
Adjoining the den, the breakfast table is embellished with decanters filled with confections, including giant green mint chocolate malted balls and banked with shiny ornaments to create visual interest. Places are set in red and white with a candy cane patterned plate crowning each setting. Red bows accent chair backs.
Downstairs, a nostalgic, jovial theme depicts a 60s Christmas with a vintage silver tree festooned with old blown glass ornaments and colored lights. “Merry Christmas” is written on an aluminum sign from Alicia’s parents’ first Christmas. “I like happy,” says Alicia. “Christmas is supposed to be jolly.”
Throughout the house miniature lit trees mingle with nativity sets, porcelain angels and Santa collections smartly arranged on antique chests.
“I love Christmas,” says Alicia. “It is my favorite holiday of the year. It has always been a big deal to decorate at Christmas. We like to collect things we love. They don’t have to be expensive or fancy, they just have to be things we really enjoy.
“When we pull out all those decorations” adds Alicia, “there is a flood of memories that come back and all the wonderful family times we have had together. It is remembering past Christmases, telling the same stories and making new stories every year.”