Our four-level barn home is never so warm and welcoming than during the Christmas season.   Decorating a 1900’s dairy barn is a process that takes about a week; Seasons of Farm Grove is just the place to document this festive labor of love. 


The barn’s interior is dominated by salvaged weathered barn board, aged to a drift wood kind of silvery brown color, tinged with occasional streaks of red.  Many Illinois barns were originally red before the weather aged them to silver, and our interior paneling reflects this.  In order to find enough wood to complete the four-level conversion, we salvaged wood from three vintage barns to use in our prairie dairy barn.   To make our Christmas elements pop, I chose traditional red in a variety of tones from cranberry to cherry to dark burgundy.  Anything traditional “plays” with the reds, including white snowy accents and silver and gold for light and sparkle.  

Cherry Garland from Door County, Wisconsin, Decorates the Evergreen-Decked Staircase


The ten-foot Frasier fir Christmas tree is sitting in a bucket of water in the cool garage waiting to come in when all other decorating is done.  First to take its place on the front porch for Christmas is a vintage red and green sled that belonged to my husband, replacing the white ice cream chair by the door.  I have already had several comments about my high school ice skates hung over the green porch swing.  A simple stuffing of evergreen and ties of red-striped cotton ribbon is all the dressing they need.  Both of these fragments of childhood memory tell a story while being decorative.  They remind us of favorite winter activities every time we enter the front door.

When will the pond freeze over?

My husband draped  the garland around the porch and along the front picket fence, weaving in LED small white lights.  I fashioned about thirty large red velvet bows to accent the garland.  Buying bolts of discounted outdoor ribbon at the end of last season allows me to be lavish with the bows. 

Traditional green garlands and red velvet bows complement our white barn home, and the look nostalgically reminds me of  The Pine Tree Inn in the classic movie “White Christmas.”  When dusk falls, the garlands and wreaths sparkle with soft white lights!


We concentrate seasonal decorations in the 1,800 square foot great room, an open floor plan of living room, dining room, and kitchen.  A small sitting room  is located in one partitioned corner of the living room and has its own unique cottage style and sugar plum color scheme for Christmas, which is the subject of another blog.  To accommodate the number of decorations for inside and out, my husband created two walk-in closets on the second floor built under the barn eves.    Accomplishing this level of decorating would be a daunting task if I didn’t have the space to hang and store all the separate pieces.

Vignette’s are arranged around the room so that everywhere the eye wanders, Christmas is there.  This setting is on the library table next to the tree.  A lush arrangement of berries, frosted greens and lush red roses is touched with tinsel sparkle and prisms.  Clustered around the base are small vintage toys, antique holiday post cards, a box of Santa Snow and a soft doll waiting for Christmas morning.

Next time, more vintage decorations come down from the Christmas closet.  Christmas comes but once a year!


About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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