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Fresh, natural, and beautifully simple: These are just a few ways to describe Kelly Duvall’s holiday home decorating style. We recently joined her for a tour of her Los Gatos, California home, which is lovingly decorated in crisp white, red, and green colors that complement her collection of cottage chic furnishings. When Kelly welcomed us into her home, her longtime love of decorating was immediately evident. Asked what she enjoys most about making her home beautiful, she said that she loves to take a space and change the way it makes people feel about being in it. “To create a place where I look forward to spending what precious downtime I have is probably my very favorite part. My goal is comfortable, warm, welcoming, casual.”

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Kelly told us that her cottage chic home style – the perfect backdrop for holiday home decorating – is inspired by things she has picked up along the way. “It’s a pretty hutch and I remember how thrilled I was to receive it.  Because it was a gift from my parents, it will always be special to me. I use it in our dining room.” She went on to tell us about some other favorites: “Once I was into my early 30’s and had gotten married, my husband and I bought our first home.  We began to slowly accumulate pine pieces for our home. Armoires, mostly, but some tables and smaller items, too. All the pine we have now definitely reflects my decorating taste from that time in my life.  Now, I integrate the pine its newer things we’ve purchased as my taste has evolved.”

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We asked Kelly which part of her home is her favorite. “My family room is my very favorite part of our home. It’s sunken, which makes it feel cozy. I’ve done it entirely in neutrals and I love to snuggle up on the couch in winter with the fireplace going. It’s the best place to relax!” Swathed in fragrant greenery, Kelly’s family room sets the stage for her favorite holiday tradition, which she describes as “A silly one that many families do. Every Christmas Eve, my girls get Christmas pajamas. My mom did the same for my sister and me for many years and I love passing that tradition on to my own children.”

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Interior design comes naturally to Kelly, who says she is self-taught. Creating welcoming spaces where scenes from everyday life play out and adding special holiday home decorating touches are a longtime love. Kelly credits her mother, who passed away in 2008 after bravely battling cancer, with teaching her how to make home a special place to be. “My mother had no training, but a lifelong love for making things look pretty. She had a great eye for room layout, accessories, and color. She had dear friends who were equally talented and I learned so much from watching them over the years.” Kelly’s appreciation for design started at a young age. “I used to love to rearrange my room, move my things around on my shelves, and arrange pictures. In my adult life, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some very talented women with incredible homes and have benefited from their amazing expertise. I continue to learn all the time.”

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Holiday home decorating is among Kelly’s passions, for which she again thanks her mother. “Mom loved Christmas and all things about it, including decorating the house, for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of spending hours making the house look pretty. Like me, her taste and the trends she used changed over the years, but my memories are of an always festive house that people asked to come to see. She started doing two live trees when I was pretty young; a “kid” tree with colored lights and kitschy ornaments and a “decorator” tree with white lights and whatever she chose to adorn it with that particular year. She had a collection of good German nutcrackers that my sister and I now have that are very special.”

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Kelly went on to tell us about some of the special ornaments that grace her tree. “Nearly all of the ornaments on the tree are ones that either my Mom gave to me or that I have given to my girls. There’s an occasional one that was a gift from a friend, too.” Talking about the ornaments brings another memory. “My Mom gave my sister and me special ornaments each year and whenever possible, she put our names and the year on the back. She saved them over the years and when we each moved into our own homes, she gave them all to us. I have continued the tradition for my girls and they usually get their ornaments on December 1st. I try to make sure they’re a little bit unique. Looking at mine over the years, you can definitely see the change in times and trends.”

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We talked a bit more about how Kelly’s style has developed.  “My style has for sure evolved as the years have passed,” she shared.  “I used to be much more into country, cutesy, kitschy.  I’ve gotten rid of most of that stuff and now try to keep things more simple and uniform throughout the house.  I use lots of burlap, twine, natural colored ribbon or simple patterns if I work with bolder color.  I like to use fresh garland, wreaths and flowers all over the place.  I put a lot of thought into how I want to wrap our gifts, so that the wrapping coordinates with the rest of the house.  I’ve wrapped for many  years in brown Kraft paper and simple red ribbon.  This year, I was ready for a change and found some paper I loved that was a little bit different.  For me, it’s a look that flows that I always aim to achieve.”

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When it comes to sourcing ornaments and other decorations, Kelly takes a very practical approach. “A lot of my stuff is from home décor and hardware stores. I buy glass ball ornaments in colors I need for the house en masse and save them from year to year. I use them everywhere, placing them in bowls, baskets, and candy jars.”

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Even though Kelly has lots of practical, inexpensive decor that’s the foundation for her holiday look, she has some things in her collection that are priceless heirlooms.  She and her sister share their mother’s incredible German Steinbach and Ulbricbht Nutcrackers, which they lovingly divided after losing their Mom in 2008.  “If my house were burning down, I would risk my life to save the nutcrackers! They are by far my most beloved holiday decorations.”  Kelly also has a collection of Christopher Radko glass ornaments gifted to her by her Mom, plus a full set of Christmas Spode that she gets out every year.

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Whether choosing furnishings or décor, Kelly looks for unique, hand-selected items, mixing and matching to create a beautiful home with spaces that flow effortlessly from one to the next.

About the Designer/Homeowner

Kelly Duvall was born in Hinsdale, Illinois and lived in Western Springs, Illinois until she was 10. In 1980, her family moved to Saratoga, California, when her Dad was transferred for a job in Silicon Valley. Today, she lives in Los Gatos, California with her husband Jimmy and her daughters, Elizabeth and Emily, ages 15 and 12.  She adores cooking and eating, exercising, volunteering in the community, and time with treasured friends.
Kelly studied Journalism and loves to write, hoping to someday pen a memoir. She enjoys helping friends with their own homes, including occasionally doing their holiday decorating.  Most important, her heart is warmed knowing that she is carrying on her Mom’s love for making things look beautiful, which she says is like having a piece of her Mom with her, always.
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