Text by Katie Ellis
Taking cues from her neutral palette panache, Mary Elaine Jolly’s French-casual interiors are only enhanced during the holiday season. “I like to decorate with greenery, silver, and gold,” she says, which adds a rich layer that doesn’t distract from her everyday décor. This year marks Mary Elaine and her husband Robert’s 12th Christmas in the spacious cottage they built together.
When designing the home, they clearly kept Christmas in mind as the open-concept floor plan combines the elegant living space and charming kitchen—which makes the holidays especially sweet as they prep, cook, and celebrate with family in a space big enough for everyone. “It makes Christmas really fun,” Mary Elaine shares of her well-designed rooms. “Having the kitchen and living room connected was definitely something we wanted.” The inviting living space is highlighted with wooden beams and anchored by a creamy white fireplace. The family tree finds a cozy home in the corner, dressed in white string lights and a collection of sterling silver snowflake ornaments, which Mary Elaine has received as gifts from her aunt every year since 1970. For an extra personal touch and a delicate pop of red, she added in a handful of upside-down candy canes to look like the letter “J” for Jolly.
Across the room, the kitchen table separates the space, and smells of the Jollys’ traditional holiday feast fill the air. “My parents come up here for Christmas, and we have the same menu that we had when my grandmother hosted,” Mary Elaine says. “It’s a real traditional Christmas with lots of people and lots of family.” The kitchen’s copper-accented backsplash adds a festive touch year-round while the cabinetry detail creates a decidedly French appeal. Holiday meals are served in the dining room where place settings mixed with a collection of creamware, brown transferware, polished silver, and fresh greenery tastefully await their guests.
Christmas in the Jolly cottage is a time when their home feels most full and complete, Mary Elaine says. “I love it when my house is decorated with all that greenery,” she says, adding, “I’m not one to buy stuff just to have it. We’ve had ‘holes’ in our house for years because I’m not going to go get some chest [to fill a space], and then when I find what I actually want, my husband will say, ‘Oh, we already have something there.’ So, when it’s decorated for Christmas, I feel like it’s not necessarily complete, but definitely looks so much better and fuller.” On the same note, she also feels the house looks naked when the season ends and the holiday décor must come down. But the beauty of a neutral palette and fresh greenery, she says, is that there is less pressure to quickly put it all away.
Mary Elaine and Robert are quick to admit their favorite room in their home is the porch—even during the holidays. “I think if we could build this house again, we would make the porch a little bigger,” she says. “We didn’t realize how much we were going to be out there.” And with a stacked stone fireplace featuring a stylish antique beam mantel, temperate weather, and gorgeous views, it’s really no surprise why. “We come out here every morning and most evenings,” she says. “And there is a TV in the corner—my husband wanted it over the fireplace, but he lost that battle.” Proving again that in this darling neutral cottage, Christmas is not only Jolly but strikingly stylish.