Dinner parties, cocktail hours and piano-accented soirées have long been associated with Ann and Jerry Atnip's gracious domiciles, as have "cozy, yet classy" holiday celebrations. Moving from the Bay Area to Ashland last year did nothing to hamper this entertaining couple's generous ways.
Embracing the challenge of a downsize, the Atnips chose a 1600-square-foot, three bedroom, two bath, newly built home on a hill. To create a sense of space and to capitalize on their mountain and creek views, the couple added an angled deck on the front and a small, wraparound deck off the dining area.
"My interior design theory is one thing: the house should reflect the people who live there," declares Jerry, owner of Atnip Company Interior Design in Ashland. "It should fit the client and reflect their own history."
From the first step onto the Aura Quartz vinyl tile in the entry, Jerry's philosophy is apparent, especially during the holidays. A nine-foot Elizabethan pine Christmas tree, dressed in red and green, greets visitors and a trio of handmade and bejeweled kings peer from their post on a side desk.
An "eclectic Victorian" array of ornaments, greenery and seasonal trimmings continues to tell the couple's story of 45 years of marriage, rich friendships and world travel.
Overnight visitors enjoy the atmosphere from the guest bedroom immediately to the left of the entry, which features a kidney-shaped mahogany desk, '40s-era twin beds, antique celadon lamps and "easy viewing" art.
An attached Jack-and-Jill bath doubles as a powder room. The dark brown floral wallpaper was chosen to complement both the guest room and the living room.
It's impossible not to notice the sofa and chair set that serves as the living room's centerpiece. Like most everything in this charming house, it carries a story.
Re-upholstered by Ann and Jerry in a classic brown print, the wood-framed pieces once belonged to their greatest heroine — Elizabeth Shepherd, who was the Atnip's landlady in Fremont, Calif., in the 1970s.
"She was the president of the Berkeley Ladies' Club and really taught us how to entertain," says Jerry.
When Shepherd died at the age of 104, with Jerry serving as caretaker, she left the couple her sofa and chair (and the Three Kings ornaments), all treasured to this day.
For the holidays, Jerry and Ann festoon their fireplace with garland, stockings (including one for their dog, Molly, and one for their godson), stuffed animals and potted red cyclamen.
The intimate kitchen easily becomes a hub thanks to a center kitchen cart (found at a recycled furniture store) and its vantage point of the dining area. Granite counters solidify the small space, personalized with framed menus from Paris restaurants and a rustic pot rack decorated with Ann's collection of 12 homemade holiday angels.
A traditional serving cart in the dining area is laden with silver trays, sparkling glass and, during the holiday season, "Mr. Foxy."
"He's a paper mache fox we bought in Boston and he gets special attention at Christmas with red candles and a wreath," says Ann.
The sly fellow poses near a window decorated with a stained glass panel made by Ann's former students. Anchoring the embracing space is a corner hutch.
Through the kitchen is a hallway leading to the master suite. Just before the main bedroom is an office furnished with a vintage wooden day bed "for overflow company."
"The master bedroom was to be cozy Asian fusion," explains Jerry. "The metal, giant bamboo, four-poster bed with a leather inset headboard fit in well with our Tansu chests."
The Asian style is accentuated with neutral matelasse bed linens and Eastern-themed art work.
Porcelain tiles enrich the attached bath and the whole room is made sunny and visually more spacious by the sliding glass door onto the newly-added deck.
"The layout works, and although it's a small house, it's so pretty," says Ann. "It's perfect for entertaining."
And with the holidays just around the corner, no doubt the house will be filled with even more mirth and opportunities to make memories.