Less Is More
With minimal fuss and a collection of pretty adornments, this Birmingham resident dresses her home for the holidays with heirloom pieces, antique treasures, and simple greenery
Guests and family members enjoy sitting hearthside to take in Davey's cozy touches, including her sons' stockings, candles aplenty, and an antique tree topper that sits atop a table from Ethan Allen. By "removing the clutter and letting each item speak," Davey puts the accent on simplicity. // Davey hand-pressed English block letters from a local craft store onto Pottery Barn stockings for sons Grant, Blake, and Bowen.
When Michelle Davey — a professional home stager/stylist — prepares for the holidays, it’s with a definitive accent on simplicity. Whether she’s on a staging job for local realtors or residents, or adorning her own Birmingham home, Davey is passionate about “removing the clutter and letting each item speak.” Davey and her husband, Pat, the busy parents of three boys ages 11, 13, and 14, live in a 1954 Poppleton Park home that gets wrapped in rich reds and regal golds come the yuletide season, all while staying true to a “less is more” theme.
A few boughs here; a silver platter and ornament there; a red bow here; a grouping of white candles there — Davey decorates with an eye that leans toward spare but special, graceful, and gracious. A lover of antiques, this traditionalist pulls out meaningful items (old tea cups, vintage spoons, an antiquated Santa) for the holidays. Outdoors, Davey festoons her home with big, red ornaments and greens that are mostly purchased at a farmers’ market. The pathway leading up to her red door is plenty merry, too, with a collection of old-school lanterns, an iron letterbox, and other classic adornments.
Angel Accents: Michelle Davey decks her foyer with boughs of greenery and a welcoming angel reflected in a mirror given to Davey by her mother-in-law.
Father Christmas: One Santa ornament that is particularly special goes back to when Davey hung it on her family tree as a child.
It's a Wrap: Davey sets out a basket filled with empty boxes wrapped in festive gold-and-red papers and bows right after Thanksgiving. “I love to enjoy the ambiance of Christmas throughout the month — those packages are like a prequel to Christmas morning.”
Tree-Trimming Tradition: Davey’s parents would trim the family tree on Christmas Eve and throw an open house party that night, as well. “People would swing by,” Davey recalls, “have a cocktail, place an ornament on … it was a great tradition.” Many of Davey's ornaments are heirloom pieces that transport her to enchanting holidays of yesteryear, while others come from local shops such as Blossoms in Birmingham. “I’m big on tradition, and I want to bring that to my boys (shown at right with her husband, Pat)."
Let's Have a Cuppa: “Coffee tastes better when served from special cups,” Davey says. Her mix of family pieces and those she's picked up at estate sales and flea markets looks charming in her china hutch. “I like to be surrounded by those beautiful pieces, see them every day, and use them often, especially during the holidays.”
Bright White: Sparkling like little diamonds, the Daveys’ white tree lights allow the ornamentation to take center stage. “I grew up with white lights at Christmas — they speak happiness.”
On the Hunt: Davey never knows when a holiday ornament might inspire her. An example — she found a black ornament with interesting colorful artwork painted on it that was on a January clearance table.
Great Greens: Davey and a good friend head out to the Oakland County Farmers’ Market in Waterford the first weekend of every December, where they find all sorts of greens (she also uses items like pine cones and sticks from her own backyard).
Lustrous Gold: On the dining table, Davey places big, gold pinecones from English Gardens in a fruit compote that was her mother’s.
Candle Can Do: “I only use white candles — again simple, simple, and they go with any décor,” Davey says. She loves Anthropologie’s Capri Blue scent, and will often light a few chunky candles and put them in her fireplace when it’s not being used for a full fire.
Dinner is Served: The Daveys’ wedding crystal is by Lenox. Antique silver napkin rings, lace table linens, and silverware have been in the family for years, while the festive napkins are from Ralph Lauren. The 1950s pressed-glass plates are from LaBelle Antiques in St. Claire Shores. As for the chargers, “I implement gold wherever I can,” Davey says. The old farmhouse table was purchased at an estate sale. Above it all hangs a lovely refurbished chandelier from LaBelle Antiques. The dining room's buffet/sideboard is a vintage classic from Berkey & Gay Furniture. "It's one of my most treasured pieces," the homeowner says.
Wayfaring Traveler: On a dark winter’s night, one might catch a glimpse of light through the front window of the Davey home, emitted by a little lamp on the foyer table. “I put this on at night when everyone’s settled in. It gives me a warm, cozy feeling.”
Shelf Life: Atop a shelf in the foyer, purchased in downtown Milford years ago, sits festive greenery from the Daveys’ yard.
Birds On a Stick: It wouldn’t be the holidays without a few dogwood sticks from the Daveys’ yard, including some that adorn the landing area and are ever more festive with handmade quilted bird ornaments by artist Lori Thomas of Troy. (Her quilted works are sold at the Guildcrafters Quilt Shop in Berkley.)
Step It Up: At the Daveys’ front entryway, a bright-red door is always ready for the season. Davey places two treetops in her greenery-filled vintage black planters and decorates them with red ornaments. “I thought of them as ‘Charlie Brown’ trees — until I realized that they were just the tops. They work great in the planters, stuck in dirt that eventually freezes and holds them up,” she says. A Pottery Barn lantern and a cheerful wreath sing Christmas. The red-and-gold motif goes from outdoors to inside. “Everything is tied together with one color palette.”
All Through the House
The Daveys Decorate With …
From Left to Right: Antique White, Ballet White, Cork, Jersey Cream, Lenox Tan, Red Bay, Shaker Beige
Pretty Paint: The Daveys prefer Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore paints. Some of the colors in the home include Ballet White (BM OC-9) for the fireplace — “it was formerly a bright white, and this is more of a creamy white, which adds warmth,” Michelle Davey says. The living room is awash in Shaker Beige (BM HC-45). The wall stripes in the foyer are Antique White (BM 909) and Lenox Tan (BM HC-44). The stairwell and landing area are Cork (BM 2153-40). The dining room welcomes with a warm Jersey Cream (SW 6379) on its walls. The front door is Red Bay (SW 6321).
Charming Vintage: A lot of items, from furnishings to paintings — including the horse-themed picture and silver tray in the living room — are from LaBelle Antiques in St. Clair Shores. A vintage china hutch is from a private antiques dealer in Port Sanilac. Other favorite haunts include a flea market in Oscoda on U.S. 23.
Classic Fabrics: “I could do my whole home in toile,” Davey says with a laugh. Two chairs in the living room have been re-covered with cream-and-red toile fabrics by Waverly and F. Schumacher & Co. In the dining room, a houndstooth window treatment pattern by Kravet Fabrics complements black Windsor-style chairs. A quick history lesson on patterns: Toile is from the French word that means “cloth,” and refers to a repeated decoration of a complex scene in a single color printed on a white or off-white fabric. Houndstooth usually refers to a small, broken-check textile pattern that originated in woven wool of the Scottish Lowlands. — MS