Home for the Holidays

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story by Liesel Schmidt | photos by Wilson Oppert

dsc00588-hdrWith its rich red brick, stately white columns, and wrought iron gates, the two story home that Beth and Travis Rutland own in Dothan is a beautiful nod to traditional colonial architecture, easily claiming its place as a part of the heirloomed landscape in a region where homes have stood their ground for centuries, despite the fact that the home is less than a decade old.

That reference to traditional style carries out throughout its interior spaces as well, seamlessly blending with modern elements that keep the home from looking stodgy or antiquated. There is an abundance of detailed woodwork to behold—crown moldings and cornices, corbels and columns, coffered and tray ceilings set off with lighting fixtures that imbue a sense of classic elegance with their warm glow and ornate embellishments. While it could easily run the risk of feeling far too formal, there is a balance of softness that affords it a certain coziness, like a cashmere blanket on a chilly day. High ceilings stretch upward in the foyer, the white painted paneling on the walls leading the eye up a staircase that is grand without being overwhelming.

Grand is easily a theme here—from the very first step in the door where the pair of square white columns flanking the hallway ahead offset the deep darkness of the hardwood flooring underfoot, to the family room whose marble fireplace captures attention from the minute one walks into the room. Unlike so many modern homes so popular in today’s market with their open-plan design, the Rutland home holds a more traditional footprint, with well-defined formal rooms that harken to a lifestyle lived in centuries past. And despite the fact that its sightlines may not stretch endlessly without interruption, those walls and doorways offer a feature all their own, more than earning their presence with every inch of their exquisite detail.

The kitchen, easily the most-used area of the combined 6895 square-feet of under-roof spaces on the property that the Rutlands have called home since buying it four years ago, is a continuation of classic flow, with luxurious white marble topping the creamy custom wood floor-to-ceiling cabinetry that lines the perimeter spaces and claiming pride of place on a center island whose black cabinets offer tonal contrast and add another element of interest. It is, as Beth puts it, “the gathering place,” the heart of the home where she and Travis are raising their three daughters. Family meals are cooked here, dinner parties prepared and plated; and as such an important space in the Rutland’s family life, it deserved nothing but the best, hosting high-end appliances to inspire Travis’ inner-chef.

dsc00665And while Beth claims that her role in the kitchen is largely that of a sous, her baking skills come out to play at Christmas time, when Beth and the girls make decadent fudge and bake cookies to keep Santa fueling along in his packed night of delivering presents. With halls—and quite a number of other spaces throughout the sizable home—decked out in holiday finery each year by Eden at Oriental Imports Floral Design, the Rutland house is a winter wonderland, with an abundance of traditional reds and festive greenery outside and continuing on into the well-festooned house. “I love seeing the joy on the girls’ faces when they see it all done, and there’s such a peaceful warmth and beauty here during those weeks that the decorations are up,” says Travis, who hired design experts to help a then six-month pregnant Beth for their very first Christmas in the house. Four years later, they’re still happy clients, though Beth admits feeling “spoiled” by the ease of handing the substantial task of decorating such a large home for the season off to the pros. Not that the ornamented spaces lack any bit of personal tradition and family feel. In fact, nearly all of the ornaments on the white-frosted tree are keepsakes, either created by tiny hands of the three Rutland girls or given to Beth by her grandparents while she was growing up. The stockings hung with great anticipation and care were lovingly made by her grandmother, each a beautifully crafted gift presented to the members of the Rutland family as it grew, first beginning with Beth when she was born, while Travis was given his upon their marriage.

dsc00566Seeing the glow of glee in her children’s eyes as they come downstairs from their rooms on Christmas morning is certainly reason enough to decorate to the nines—and in this house so full of traditional design, the season seems right at home.

Naturally enough, the upstairs is impressive to behold, with the pink and purple rooms claimed by the girls lending touches of playful and childlike charm, happily ensconcing them in a pastel cloud that hovers just above their parents’ master suite on the floor below. And indeed the master suite has well earned the title of master. Marble counters and flooring add luxury to the capacious bathroom, a slipper tub tucked into a windowed alcove set off by the glittering light of a chandelier. His and her closets hold Beth and Travis’s various necessities; and a relaxation lounge adjoins the room, mingling between the bedroom and bath to create a cozy sanctuary perfect for curling up with a good read.

Like the kitchen, the master suite is a space loved by the entire family, the perfect place for family TV-time and pre-bedtime cuddling. For even more family fun, the theater/playroom sees its fair share of play, while the glittering pool and Alabama-proud basketball court get things going outside.

In its many spaces, the Rutland home offers architectural homage to a more classic time—a time when life was a little bit slower and families were more tightly knit. But that homage is a message, as well, one that resonates like an echo in more than just its façade and the details of its design. It rings out in the times of play, in the meals shared, in the stories read at bedtimes. And it echoes with unabashed joy in the twinkle of the lights that shine brightly on the tree, where five pairs of eyes look on in excitement to see what treasures Santa has left for their happy hearts to find.

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