New This Month

Welcome to a House Party That's Brimming with Christmas Spirit

  • By Alexandra Churchill
  • Photos by Pura Soul Photography

A young couple celebrates the holiday season—and their newly announced engagement—with loved ones. For the ocassion, they were graciously regaled in a home that's happily decked the halls: seven trimmed trees, hundreds of ornaments, and room upon room of vintage collectibles.

Newfound Family

Home is where the heart is. And for interior designer Nicole Massimino, the town of Wilmington, North Carolina fits the proverb perfectly—it's where she met her fiancé Scott.

"We met in Wilmington at a restaurant on a Friday evening," she says. "We went on our first date that Sunday and never looked back. We have known one another for two years and after our first couple of dates, I knew there was something extra special about him. Scott makes me smile like no one else has ever done." As they headed off on a motorcycle trip bound for Canada, Scott proposed to Nicole. "It was one of the most beautiful trips I've ever been on."

Open Doors

Among their holiday traditions—wearing pajamas on Christmas morning, sipping mimosas, and exchanging gifts—Nicole and Scott decided to celebrate something new: their first Christmas as a newly engaged couple. To host a party of family and friends, they gathered in the home of their friendly neighbors Michael and Goldie Stetten. As home owners, the Stettens spent two years building this residence from the ground up: Michael, who has been constructing houses in the community for 35 years, built the five-bedroom house; and Goldie designed the interior. For Christmas and this special occasion, the home was magically transformed.

A Warm Welcome

For guests, a charming chalk-art sign points to the hot chocolate bar sure to keep everyone happy. Glass apothecary jars are filled with everything needed for guests to whip up a cup custom to their liking: pillowy soft marshmallows, chocolate-covered dipping sticks, and cocoa powder. A bundle of cinnamon sticks is tied in red satin bow. And for extra sweetness? A two-tiered cake stand of sugar cookies, smiling gingerbread men, and a pile of peppermints.

The Library

Goldie wanted this room to feel intimate, elegant, and cozy. A single window looks out to the covered porch outside, she chose to embrace the natural shadow: "darker rooms are best when designed dark." The walls were treated with a strie technique: whereby striations are achieved with two colors of paint, steel wool, and a wallpaper brush.

Luxurious fabrics and furnishings fill the space: drapes lined in dupioni silk, plus tiger-striped pillows on the white loveseat and the light fixture from Fortuny. The two pieces of furniture on either side of the mantle were made by Jonathan Charles. The Italian armoire has a special place in the Stetten's home: it was one of the first pieces of furniture they bought after being married in 1975. The blue silk-velvet chair and ottoman (both of which she had reupholstered) are what Goldie calls her cozy place: "This is the room where I like to sit and put my feet up every morning with my cup of coffee, read magazines, enjoy the fire and look at my tree."

Objets d'Art

Look closer and you'll see more heirlooms of Goldie's artistic flair: an oil painting (done by her own hand) that sits behind the Christmas tree, hand-tied bows on the mantel and the tree, and the stocking made by a friend using her mother's stole as a cuff. Goldie's blue and white porcelain collection is seen here and there throughout the room.

The tree in the library is decorated with some 200 ornaments. Goldie has a meticulous method of trimming her trees: she starts with the topper, then lines the inside with "filler bulbs" and works her way out, and lastly adds ribbons and flowers for a special touch. She started this tree with 20 blue and white ornaments from Enchanted Home

Merry Red Roses

As a member of the Cape Fear Garden Club, one of the oldest and largest garden clubs in the state of North Carolina, Goldie considered natural elements essential. Fellow members of the garden club arrived with armfuls of fresh flowers and greenery to help decorate the home. Goldie and Garden Club member Hillary McNeir were inspired by the idea of red roses and they continued that theme throughout the house. "Red is iconic for Christmas time and roses are luxurious," she remarks. "Who doesn't love red roses, especially in the dozens?"

The Foyer

At the base of a winding staircase, another Christmas tree is displayed atop a special heirloom: "The grand piano was my mother's and I have learned a handful of Christmas carols to play for the family when they're all home. I put my collection of carolers on top of the piano underneath the tree. There is actually a caroler sitting at a piano, playing and singing to the other carolers, on top of the piano," she laughs. 

The tree is trimmed with 100 MacKenzie Childs ornaments, plus a topper made of checked ribbon, red ribbons, and gold ribbons. "I made several bows myself and then wire them all together around the top of the tree," Goldie explains. "Then I cascade the ribbons down. There are bubble lights on this tree as well as traditional string lights. I like white bubble light because they give life and movement to the trees." 

The Dining Room

Two trees flank either side of this grand space, both sparkling with old-fashioned tinsel from Germany and chandelier crystals. "I found the tinsel online," Goldie mentions, "It's the heavy kind that is real metal and weighted—it looks so dreamy and magical when it hangs and sparkles." Pillowy white fabric is bundled around the base to give the idea of newfallen snow. "We had a real tinsel tree when I was a kid growing up in Michigan," Goldie recalls. "And I can remember decorating it with my dad. He and his love for Christmas inspired these trees."

At the center of the table, an abundance of earthy greens—potted maidenhair ferns, white roses, cedar, cryptomeria, eucalyptus, white narcissus, and white hydrangeas—are displayed in sterling silver vessels. "The secret to a beautiful centerpiece is levels and dimension," Goldie says. "We really brought the outdoors inside when we combined all sizes and types of vessels and greenery to complete this centerpiece." 

The Family Room

Enter the room that is perhaps the most merry and bright. Goldie wanted this room to open up to the kitchen and have a more colorful feel where everyone in the family could relax all in one room. For the Christmas party: an assembly of nutcrackers line the mantel, a secondary collection of Santa themed plates are displayed in the cabinets flanking the fireplace, and an abundance of fresh greenery and rose bouquets enliven the space.

A Trimmed Tannenbaum

Out of the seven Christmas trees in the home, this towering Balsam Hill evergreen tops them all: there are some 400 ornaments, most of which are designed by holiday mastermind Christopher Radko. As Goldie notes: "Several of them are on spinners so they spin around as they hang from the boughs."

Gathering Together

After decking the halls in resplendent style, all that was left was to enjoy each other's company. Pictured here: Scott and Nicole, friend Shepherd Joseph, and Michael and Goldie Stetten toast glasses of Champagne. "Christmas has always been my favorite time of year," Goldie says. "When the family is home, the fire is on, and garlands are hung."


Home Owners: Michael & Goldie Stetten of MDS Construction
Photography: Pura Soul Photography
Holiday Decor: Goldie Stetten Design & Cape Fear Garden Club
Stylist: Drewe Smith
Bride-to-be outfit: Zia Boutique
Groom-to-be suit: Gentlemen's Corner
Jewelry: Lumina Gem & Ziabird
Hair & Makeup: Blush Haus of Beaute
Gingerbread men: Pink Baking Co.