Creating that cottage feel (with slideshow)

Kristen Grimm believes that Christmas decorations do not have to be elaborate, but with a little ingenuity can be a beautiful representation of family.

Fresh magnolia leaves, bright green and red holly sprigs, and snips of blue spruce generously fill a silver punch bowl in the Grimm’s family kitchen.

These backyard cuttings, albeit imperfect, import nature’s beauty and simplicity to the farm table where Caroline, Sara, Thomas and Williams Grimm share meals and playful conversation.

Kentucky native Tom Grimm moved his family here in 2001 from Florida, but shortly after their marriage in 1993, he and his wife Kristen spent three years living in the bucolic countryside of The Plains, Va.

Thirteen years later, the pitter-patter of eight little feet fill this spirited household. You can feel the traditions of generations past being heralded throughout the holidays.

On any given afternoon the aroma of comfort food flows from the Grimm’s kitchen into every nook and cranny of this cozy home. A pot of homemade vegetable soup or a chicken potpie welcome’s visitors inside.      

Meals are informal but not without fanfare and beauty. An assortment of English china signals that it’s dinnertime.

Neighbors and friends who stop by sip coffee from a cup and saucer while the golden eyes of an orange Tabby cat named Milo peer intently from a chair nearby.

For the past few years, this hospitable couple has created a pleasant and unpretentious refuge on quiet Greystone Drive in Fieldstone Farms.

Kristen, a native Floridian, has spent the past several years connecting the dots between her heritage and her husband Tom’s. Both have strong ties to Kentucky and a love for traditional American and English décor.

Two years living in an early American farmhouse on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., also inspired Kristen’s decorating style and her penchant for creative writing. (She is one of Williamson County’s undiscovered poets.)

“I don’t have an English cottage in the countryside, but when you walk in my house that’s what I want it to feel like. No matter where you live whether it’s an apartment in New York or a rambler in Florida, the atmosphere inside your home can be anything you imagine it to be,” she says.

When Tom and Kristen met they immediately sensed they’d be spending the rest of their lives together. 

A weekend trip to Paducah gave her a glimpse of the Grimm’s heritage, including a 200-year-old family farm purchased with a Revolutionary War land grant.

“My mother-in-law Aimee Grimm has a great sense of style.  She has had toile fabric for forty years in her home and according to her it will never go out of fashion,” says this mother of four who has learned that to have what you want often means making it yourself.

In between raising four youngsters from 2 to 10 years, Kristen plugs away at home projects whether it be sewing new drapes or decorating for the holidays.

“I’m not any more talented than any one else. I’m just not afraid to try something and make a mistake.  So many people don’t decorate because they’re afraid to make a mistake.”

“Decorating for holidays doesn’t have to be elaborate. One of the easiest ways is to decorate with candy because there’s candy at every holiday – red hots for Valentines, jellybeans for Easter, Christmas cookies on the tree for Christmas.”

When it comes time to prepare for the Christmas season Kristen uses creative common sense and a bit of ingenuity. Her motto is do with what you have.

No dish is sacred in the Grimm’s family – be it English transferware or crystal. Not even the rambunctious behavior of four young children dissuades this mom from using and displaying her favorite breakables.

“My mother always gave me freedom to rearrange and use my creativity as a little girl,” Kristen explains. “She taught me to use what I have.  And my mother-in-law taught me how to use my fine china everyday. So many people keep all their fine china in a cupboard somewhere.”

Paper plates or china, Tom says time with family is the best part of his day.

“We want our home to be a place where our family and friends feel welcome, loved and cared for,” Tom says.  “Life takes place here. It’s my greatest joy to come home to a wonderful wife and great kids.”

After several years of providing guidance to the philanthropic arm of World Vision, an international non-profit that extends financial and in-kind support to families in underdeveloped countries, Tom felt drawn to establish his own financial services firm in Franklin.

Today, he counsels individuals in professional retirement and estate planning at Williamson Wealth Management in downtown Franklin.

Before the end of the season this family will share several meals together at home with neighbors, friends and out-of-town family.

“We don’t make it about the food. We make it about the friendship whether we’re serving chili cheese dogs or pork tenderloin wrapped in a Dijon mustard and apricot preserves.  Tom and I both feel it is absolutely important to welcome people into our home – whether it’s clean and tidy or messy.”

With four children there is plenty of expectation as Christmas Day approaches. 

When asked what the big day holds for their family, Caroline, a fourth-grader at Eagles Nest Academy doesn’t hesitate.

“We’re all hoping for a puppy, a chocolate lab.”

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