All Decked Out

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The spirit of Christmas sprinkled throughout this home has become a treasured part of the family over the years.

Story by Ann Butenas   /   Photography by Matt Kocourek

Some Christmas decorations do more than just sparkle, glitter and glow. They also represent the spirit of family, love, and laughter, allowing the season to fill one’s heart. Jami and Murray, owners of this recently constructed Olathe, Kansas home, fully embrace the holiday season for the way it brings their family together.

“We love this time of year because it represents family and the traditions we have,” expressed Jami. “We love the lights, the smells and just the overall ambiance of the season.”

Taking full advantage of the holidays, Jami typically begins her decorating around Thanksgiving and lets the celebration continue throughout the month of January.

“We actually have a Mexican Christmas in mid-January, as that is when our entire blended family can gather together, as some of them cannot be here on Christmas day,” expressed Jami.

With so much to catch the eye and capture the heart, it just makes sense to keep the spirit of the season alive for as long as possible. Jami adds embellishments, ornaments, trinkets, and baubles throughout most of the rooms in her home.

“Christmas was a big deal for my family when I was growing up,” she reflected. “We would spend hours shopping, wrapping, and putting up decorations. I also used to help my grandma with her tree and decorations when I was a kid, so it has always been an important part of the season for me.”

In order to ensure the perfect touch for her holiday decorations, Jami has partnered with Brenda Freebern, owner of Picture Perfect Interiors, for the past 13 years to capture the holiday essence.

“Brenda has helped me annually with the Christmas decorations and we have just expanded it each year,” noted Jami. “Over the years it has developed into a comfortable and homey Christmas setting.”

Brenda enjoys working with Jami and appreciates her enthusiasm throughout the process.

“She likes pretty things all around and is very hands-on,” said Brenda. “It is interesting to see what she finds to add to her collection. I love that she makes it all for and about her family, too.”

Although Jami has purchased most of her own décor, she has acquired some of it with the assistance of Brenda’s expertise and input.  

“Brenda created the garland and ribbons on the stairs and mantel,” indicated Jami, who prefers not to over-decorate the stairs or any room for that matter. “I just like to put a little bit in each room.”

Brenda has a small but mighty team that spends most of one entire day working with Jami to get everything just right.

“She will give us a brief description of what she wants and we will implement it, collaborating together. It’s a fun process and we enjoy helping her display what is important to her and her family in her home to celebrate this time of year,” said Brenda.

Jami puts up three artificial trees each year, each with a its own theme. For example, the one in the upstairs loft is   for the kids, who wanted a military theme with patriotic elements. The basement tree centers around a black, red and silver them with a vast collection of treasured ornaments and is strategically wrapped up in plastic wrap as a whole piece each year to keep the ornaments secure. The tree on the main floor is a delightful expression of  a more traditional setting.

Jami also does a bit of crafting and has created a few pieces herself, including the Merry Christmas board painting.

Among her favorite pieces are the photographs of her kids and grandkids.

“I look for cute frames and get photos every year,” said Jami. “I love to look back at the fun we have had over the years.”

Jami is quite strategic about the purchases she makes for her collection.

“Everything has to be functional for me, and I love to repurpose things, like the ladder on which I hang some stockings,” she said. “I still buy stuff each year, but when I get new things I get rid of some of the older items.”

Keeping track of each item year to year requires extreme attention to detail when setting them all up and storing them away until the next season.

“To make it easier, I take before and after photos of each room so I know where each piece goes. I put the photos and all of the decorations from each particular room into a separate box and then go by the photos the following year so I know where everything goes,” explained Jami.

While most of the attention to the Christmas spirit can be seen inside their home, Jami does place a few appointments on the exterior of their house, such as lights, a door wreath, and some décor for the planters. Most of it, however, remains inside for the whole family to enjoy.  

It is truly a labor of love, to which Jami quipped, “My husband loves it all, he also likes that he doesn’t have to help with the decorating! I am pretty proud of the strategy I use now for storing and setting everything up. While it used to take me a week or more to set it all up, even with Brenda’s help, we can now do it all in a little over a day.”

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