Nothing makes happier than decorating her Newtown, Connecticut house for the holidays. Inspired by her woodsy surroundings, the gardening enthusiast uses mostly natural and homegrown greenery—boxwoods, tiered topiaries, paperwhites—potted in an assortment of vessels, from creamy white to old baskets (including a stately French harvest basket mounted on a wall in the entry) to galvanized metal buckets. "They enhance my natural style of holiday decorating," says Nora.
But the true star is plaid—and lots of it. Nora, a self-described "tartan nut" whose love of the Scottish patterns dates back to her first lunch box—and was no doubt reinforced during her career at Ralph Lauren Home and Ethan Allen—embraces the woolen woven in almost every room, from the entry presents to the kitchen lampshades. "To this day, there's not one pattern out there that I don't like." (Nora's check affection also extends to buffalo plaids and gingham motifs.)
Once Nora has checked and decked the halls to her satisfaction, the family can kick back to savor other family traditions—opening gifts on Christmas Eve and then cooking filet mignon with béarnaise and roasting garlic potatoes with rosemary over the fireplace. Take a peek inside her festive home below.
Guests truly "check in" to Nora's country house via the checkered-floor foyer, made especially festive with tartan touches, including plaid presents atop a 19th-century papier-mâché plaid chest of drawers.
Get the look: Tartan wrapping paper ($21, ); Tartan wool throw ($99, ); Distressed white chair ($187 for two, )
Even Nora's seasonal attire—simple scarves, a tartan tote—reinforce her "mad for plaid" approach.
Get the look: Red tartan scarf ($12, ); Red tartan tote ($38, )
A Fraser fir features equally fragrant fruit and gingerbread ornaments alongside an old wooden wheelbarrow wielding other goodies.
Get the look: Gingerbread ornaments ($15, ); Dried orange slices ($8, )
A few of Nora's collected blankets had seen better days, so she salvaged the still-intact sections and turned the woolly remnants into stockings. You can do the same with tattered quilts and Pendleton or Hudson's Bay blankets.
Get the look: Plaid stocking ($23, ); Tartan wrapping paper ($21, )
Nora's extensive stockpile of throws proves especially practical during family feasts, when she layers multiple pieces to create a casual, collected tablescape. "I love that they create such a colorful, warm, and rich foundation to my place settings," she says. "When dinner is done, I throw them in the wash on cold and dry them on low. It works like a charm."
Get the look: Tartan blanket ($23 each, )
Nora's set of dessert plates boasts four different patterns.
Get the look: Plaid plates ($28 for set of 4, )
The is typically sans shades. But come Christmas, Nora ups the merry factor with tiny tartan treatments.
Get the look: Plaid chandelier shade ($15 each, )
Nora found these tiny metal pails tied to red-and-white-striped twill tape ribbon years ago.
Get the look: Mini galvanized pails ($10 per dozen, )
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Nora, an avid gardener, can't resist draping doorways, signs, and cupboards with greenery—usually cedar, boxwood, and holly. "They're very fragrant, and I
love the mix of textures," she says.
Get the look: Preserved boxwood garland ($45 for 5 feet, )
Nora stocks up on the plaid ribbon at mass retailers such as T.J.Maxx and HomeGoods to make "pretty, generous bows" for gifts and greenery, including the charming,
Charlie Brown-esque tree in the gallery.
Get the look: Red and green plaid ribbon ($11, ); White deer antlers ($106, ); Black metal bench ($300, )
Filling bowls, baskets, and platters with the crisp fruit is one of Nora's simplest seasonal styling tricks.
Get the look: Large white porcelain bowl ($33 for two, ); Preserved boxwood garland ($45 for 5 feet, )
Nora takes an "all through the house" approach to holiday decorating, swapping out her everyday bedding for more seasonal fare. For example, in the master bedroom, a cozy buffalo-check wool Pendleton blanket offers a (brief!) respite from tartan...while still embracing plaid.
Get the look: Buffalo-check bedding ($40, )
Even the master bath, below, features a h pop of pattern.
Get the look: Red gingham pillow cover ($8, )