Text by Katie Ellis
Though blogger Charlotte Russell and her husband, Jon, haven’t lived in their house in northern Alabama for very long, they have wasted no time making it feel like home. The couple moved in during Labor Day weekend of 2018 and immediately began a complete remodel. Filled with creative inspiration, Charlotte led the charge, transforming their 1947 cottage into a swoon-worthy modern farmhouse filled with charming style ideas. The Russells added shiplap-style painted white planks to nearly every room in the house, resulting in an instant facelift. “My goal in decorating is always to be cozy,” Charlotte says. “That is why I love the farmhouse style so much; it screams warm and inviting.”
During the holiday season, nearly every surface and styled vignette gets an extra dose of comfort. “Christmas is all about the cozy family fun,” Charlotte says. “We love to spend time baking and watching Christmas movies by the fire.” The living room is a place where the family spends lots of time together, so the flocked tree decked with farmhouse ornaments and surrounded by tartan plaid packages and a vintage sled truly sets the scene for a cozy Christmas morning. “We love to have the fireplace going while watching our favorite holiday movies or just hanging out, drinking coffee or hot cocoa,” Charlotte says.
And although the home is layered primarily in warm, neutral hues throughout, Charlotte admits that she loves to incorporate a bit of color during the holidays. “Red is my favorite [accent color] during Christmas,” she says. “That is the great thing about having a neutral color palette. You can easily add any pop of color and it will look great!”
Leading up to the holiday, the home is filled with the delightful sounds of Elvis’s and Nat King Cole’s holiday records—and lots of dancing. On Christmas morning, Jon reads the Christmas story aloud, and it’s a joyful time to slow down and focus on the meaning of the season. If the family isn’t cuddled up in the living room, you’ll likely find them in the kitchen. “It’s the only time of year that my husband makes sweets,” Charlotte says, adding she’s already looking forward to his famous no-bake oatmeal cookies.
The kitchen saw the biggest transformation during the home’s remodel. Not only did they move the location of the stove and add a hood range, but they also removed the top cabinets and added open shelving. “I knew from day one that is what I wanted,” Charlotte says of her kitchen’s open shelves. “We did it the most affordable way by having Lowe’s cut wood and screwing brackets into the bottom.”
The thrifty couple then repurposed the removed upper cabinets by adding them to the lowers and extending the countertops. “Concrete countertops are another way to save money,” Charlotte adds, noting they poured the concrete directly over the existing laminate countertops. They also used four of the top cabinets to build their island, which houses the microwave. One of the most striking elements of this farmhouse-style kitchen is the contrast of the dark tile flooring with the white walls and cabinetry. “People often think the floors are stenciled, but they are not,” Charlotte says. “It is tile that is made to look vintage, and we absolutely love it!”
This sunny kitchen makeover is decked in vintage collections, which continue into the dining room. The couple enjoys entertaining and knew they wanted the two rooms to have an easy flow, so they widened the opening between the kitchen and the dining room as much as the preexisting duct work would allow.
The anchor of the dining room is the 1940s farm table Charlotte bought at a yard sale. “I love that it was built in the same decade as my home,” she says. In true cottage style, she found a way to blend the old with the new and paired the table with dining chairs from Target. The faux evergreen tree that stands tall in the front windows commands attention as it gives a subtle nod to years gone by. “I wanted this to be filled with family ornaments as well as my special finds,” Charlotte says. She ordered vintage Santa postcards from New Zealand and created a garland to go around the Christmas tree. “I love to incorporate vintage themes in my holiday decorating,” Charlotte says.