Every year, a cottage on Martha's estate is transformed into a magical holiday hideaway.

By Alexandra Churchill
October 28, 2019
Sang An

On Christmas morning at Martha's home in Bedford, the halls are fully decked and prepared for guests. In the days leading up to December 25, there's much to be crossed off her list: decorate the house and tree, bake cookies and puddings, and wrap the gifts. And it all begins at the farmhouse. "I spend most of my free time at my farm in Bedford," Martha said in her column for the December 2012 issue of Living, "gardening, cooking, raising small livestock, and conjuring many of the creative ideas that become articles, books, and products for Martha Stewart Living."

Originally built in the 1880s, it was long referred to as "the tenant house," until Martha's daughter, Alexis Stewart, reconfigured and renovated it. For Martha's granddaughter Jude's first Christmas, the house was done up like an enchanted woodland hideaway. "It was so warm and cozy and fun and whimsical," our founder said of the transformation. "The whole house became a fairyland for Jude. And she absolutely loved it. She was just so happy looking at everything."

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Martha has always embraced the old-fashioned charm of modern farmhouse style. Her Christmas décor is, in part, inspired by the settings of the estate itself. Martha takes cues from the surrounding woodlands—decorating the common rooms with bottlebrush animals, felted wool ornaments, birch trivets and candleholders, and faux bois furniture (a longtime favorite of hers). Evergreen garlands, wreaths, and arrangements complement the wall colors of sage green and gray, as well as replicate the sycamore tree, which has since become an emblematic motif of the estate. A vignette on the mantel is lined with the silhouettes of reindeer, bears, and trees all cut from slabs of knotted wood veneer. It's all a mix of natural and fantasy blended beautifully.

This farmhouse-style décor takes Christmas back to its classic, cozy roots with hallmark features like galvanized metal and buffalo check prints. Her tried-and-true color palette of white frost, earthy brown, and mossy green captures the most breathtaking imagery of winter. And she proudly displays her amassed antiques and vintage collectibles—albeit none that are too delicate for her guests to touch. (Martha has always taught an appreciation for practicality as much as style.) Many are, in fact, put to good use on the tabletop as servingware for her annual Christmas Day brunch.

Related: Is It Too Early to Decorate for Christmas?

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As for her gifting, some of Martha's favorite presents—from jams and jellies to bracelets and knit vests—start at her home. "My Bedford farm was the inspiration for the special holiday gifts I'll be making this year," she explained in her column from the December 2012 issue of Living. And the farm animals play an important role: Tassels and bracelets were made from braided horsehair (courtesy of her five Friesian horses) and packaged in jewelry boxes, jars of honey were harvested from her bee hives, and knit vests for the grandchildren were crafted using wool from her two black Welsh sheep.

Everyone in the family is presented with a personalized gift in the form of homemade stockings on the holiday mantel (or, as the case may be for Martha, in the barn). There's one for her daughter, the grandchildren Jude and Truman, and her longtime friend Kevin Sharkey. Even the animals are included in this tradition.

"Now I have a lot of fireplaces in my old farmhouse, and it is so beguiling to affix these keepsakes, each earmarked for a particular recipient, within easy reach of Santa and his elves," Martha said in her column for the December 2018 issue of Living. "My donkeys-Rufus, Clive, and Billie-will receive embroidered jute bags filled with apples, carrots, hay, and sugar cubes. The animals' silhouettes were cross-stitched on pre-made stockings with wool-and-silk floss." And what could be more exemplary of farmhouse style than that?

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