By Stacee Sledge
Whatcom Magazine, Holiday Bonus Edition 2006
mixes old and new as family grows
Start with one close-knit family and add a dash of
upscale yet comfortable décor. Mix liberally with
tradition, then throw in a smidge of expert advice. Give
it a snow globe shake and you have the DeHaan holiday
Married for 26 years, Brad and Sheryl moved into their
home on 80 acres just outside of Lynden 14 years ago.
Brad has been a partner and general manager for Ferndale
Ready Mix & Gravel, Inc. for 30 years and is also a
partner in DeHaan Dairy with his brother, Curt. Sheryl
does volunteer work and has stayed home for the past 15
years to raise daughters Lisa, 23, Kristin, 19, and
Brad and Sheryl are grandchildren of Dutch immigrants
and nearly all of their extended family lives in the
area. Holiday gatherings keeping growing in size.
it comes to decorating, Sheryl balances the family’s
traditional trimmings with new ideas. “Every year looks
a little different,” she says. “I always like to add
oldest daughter Lisa was married in 2005, the DeHaan
brood welcomed the new addition, but it also meant
tweaking their traditions.
usually open gifts and stockings on Christmas morning
and then we have traditional Belgian waffles with
strawberries and fresh whipped cream, bacon and
sausage,” says Sheryl. “Everybody has their own role,
from setting the table to pouring the sparkling cider.”
last year Lisa spent Christmas morning with her new
husband’s family. “We have to share them on the
holidays a little bit,” Sheryl says with a laugh. “When
your kids get married, I think that’s when keeping
traditions going is most important.”
Different touches start right at the front door. The
4,500-square-foot home sits back off the road, down a
long fence-lined driveway that opens into a wide
circular drive. White lights, also visible from the
road, sparkle on the home’s eaves and surrounding
bushes. Framed with multi-colored, oversized Christmas
tree ornaments, the exterior of their double-door entry
creates a whimsical welcome.
unexpected decorating idea came from Lois Thompson,
interior decorator and owner, with Sharyn Bornstein, of
Fairhaven’s In Home Design.
had seen that idea a few years ago and I put it in my
memory bank,” says Sheryl. “It took me a couple seasons
to accumulate the balls, and then Lois helped me put
“Sheryl is such a welcoming person,” says Thompson, a
designer for 30 years. “So I felt her house deserved a
wonderfully decorated entry at the holidays.”
first worked with Thompson five years ago, shortly after
the family’s summer home in Birch Bay was remodeled. “I
needed somebody to help me pull a few things together,”
Sheryl says. She has since called on Lois for ideas in
several different rooms.
starters, Thompson suggested moving the Christmas tree.
It used to welcome guests in the entry, hugged by a
grand curving staircase.
kids are very traditional and they had a really hard
time when the tree moved,” says Sheryl. “They walked in
the front door and immediately said, ‘The tree! Where’s
the tree?’ We have a lot of traditions, so when we start
changing things that throws them off a little bit.”
girls have more say in how their bedrooms are decorated
for the season, with frosted icicles and snowflakes, and
headboards lit up with lanterns. Kristin and Michelle
each have a little Christmas tree in their room as well.
Elegant yet cozy
The railing of the show-stopper entry staircase is now
ringed with greenery and gorgeous groupings of
ornaments, ribbon and stars in bright reds and greens.
The 7-foot artificial tree stands near the fireplace in
the elegant yet cozy family room.
tree is one more piece in an array of holiday spirit
tastefully placed throughout many rooms. Each area has a
different mood, from traditional to contemporary.
all have their own color schemes,” says Sheryl. “I like
so many different things, so it’s fun — and everything
isn’t totally the same.”
entry offers vibrant reds and greens, while the living
and dining rooms feature burgundy, gold, and cream
family room and kitchen are more monochromatic with
crisp white, gold and silver trimmings layered amid deep
brown furnishings and rich taupe walls. Lois suggested
turquoise touches for the tree, each a refreshing zap of
color against the verdant limbs, white snowflakes and
cream-colored poinsettia leaves.
Thompson also sprinkled holiday items throughout the
main floor of the home.
went through all of Sheryl’s Christmas ornaments and
rather than put them all on one big tree, I made
vignettes throughout the home,” says Thompson. “So she
has her sentimental stuff as she walks through the home,
not just on the tree.”
striking group of decorations spans the length of the
fireplace mantel in the family room, where silver and
gold ornaments entwine with greenery, lights and
sparkling stocking hooks. “I use real greenery and mix
it with artificial, so you can’t tell,” says Thompson.
“And I love using ribbon.”
salvage everybody’s loose ends,” she adds. “I go through
all these bags of things people think are junk and find
beautiful things we can use.”
treasure-hunt approach works for Sheryl. “The dining
room table [vignette] was all stuff I had, but Lois
helped me put it together in a different way,” she says.
some decorating decisions in the DeHaan home can only
come from within.
fresh each year and layered with ornaments full of
family history, a traditional tree goes up in the
basement, where the family opens gifts on Christmas
“That’s where the ornaments go that have been collected
from trips or the kids have made that are really
special,” says Sheryl. “Sometimes the tree is really
pretty and sometimes it’s really ugly; just whatever
ornaments they like that year. But it’s so important —
it’s who we are.”
Stacee Sledge is a
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