Text by Charlotte Safavi
“Our farm is very popular during the holidays,” says Will Morrow, a landscape designer and sheep farmer who owns a 30-acre farm in Emmitsburg, Maryland, with his husband, anesthesiologist Kent Ozkum. “Our family and friends are in Washington, DC, where we used to live, and they all want to come and visit for the holidays,” Will says.
The couple purchased the property, which includes a charming 1764 farmhouse, back in 2003 and, after an extensive renovation, brought it back to life as Whitmore Farm. The exterior features a standing seam metal roof and wraparound covered porch, and inside, there are log-and-chink walls and a burled wood staircase.
“We tend to decorate outside more than inside,” says Will. “In December, the greenery lasts much longer outdoors in the higher humidity and cooler temperature than it would in the house. Besides, even in winter, we are often able to sit and entertain on the porch.”
With holly wreaths in each window and a magnolia garland and fruit medallion decking the front door, the farmhouse’s façade reads straight out of a Christmas storybook. “We always buy two potted evergreen trees that we place on either side of the door and later plant on our property,” Will adds. “Everything is also wired with fairy lights.”
The magnolia garland concept is carried indoors, winding gracefully around the home’s burled wood staircase. For the adjacent living room, Will cuts a small tree on the farm and trims it to tabletop size, with fairy lights and choice ornaments. Pretty presents and salvaged pine cones pile up around it. “I like to decorate indoors only a few days before Christmas,” says Will. “I tend to walk around outside and just snip whatever looks fresh and good.”
The couple’s rustic, handcrafted, black walnut dining table is simply adorned with cut greenery and berries. Gold beads dress up the chandelier. Meanwhile, the dining room, with its custom-built red hutch and sage chenille upholstered chairs, is picture-perfect for hosting the holiday meal. “We’re of the age where our parents have gifted us their old china and crystal, and I like to bring it all out for the holidays,” Will shares.
After privately exchanging personal gifts in their cozy living room the eve before hosting friends and family, Will and Kent are ready to receive their company with open arms. Visitors are either housed in one of the upstairs bedrooms—there are four—or in the big barn’s roomier guest quarters. “We like to leave wrapped presents in the guest rooms as little surprises,” Will says.
The holiday meal is a rack of lamb served in the dining room with an array of desserts laid out buffet-style. The kitchen is also a hub of activity and visiting. Here, surfaces are deliberately kept clear of excessive holiday décor to allow for food prep as well as for plenty of room for folks to pop down their drinks. Potted cyclamens and poinsettias add natural seasonal color in the welcoming space, where the farmhouse’s original cooking hearth is often roaring with a fire.
“It’s a beautiful time of year here at the farm,” Will says. “The weather is often pleasant, and everyone loves to get out and go hiking in the days leading up to Christmas, or simply walk off a holiday meal.”
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