Whimsical Winter Wonderland

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This Johnson County home magically transforms into a festive fantasy, blending tradition with playful modern twists.

Story by Ann Butenas    |    Photography by Matthew Anderson

As winter descends and the world dons a blanket of snow, there’s a certain magic that fills the air. This enchantment isn’t just reserved for the outdoors, however. It also makes its way into our homes, urging us to transform ordinary spaces into festive havens. Decorating one’s home for the holiday season is a cherished tradition for many people, perhaps even an art form, that breathes life into memories of yesteryears while crafting new stories to be told. In this Johnson County residence, Kansas, owner Melissa Morris has outfitted the interior spaces as a testament to the festive holiday spirit, where nearly every nook and cranny gleams with the joy of the season. 

Melissa indicated she has always been passionate about interior holiday decorating. However, since her marriage to Mike 18 years ago, her decorative flair has not just doubled, but exploded in vibrant colors, textures, and themes. In short, she has truly elevated her holiday décor game in many fun and innovative ways. Plus, she enjoys decorating her home in tandem with her sister, Michelle Morris (whose holiday-decorated home is also featured in this issue). It seems celebrating the holiday spirit in such fun and inventive ways is a family affair.

One might say Mike introduced Melissa to the artistry of tree decorating. A unique technique he shared with Melissa years ago involved placing plain balls inside the tree, with the more opulent ones on the outside, creating an illusion of depth and dimension. Mike’s introduction of tree picks, which are decorative accents for the tree, was also a game-changer for Melissa. Yet, Melissa didn’t stop there. She has also incorporated massive candy cane and even candy picks into her decor. The personality and style they bring to the scene are undeniable.

“It kind of resembles Whoville,” she said with a chuckle.

Each year, Melissa’s inspiration stems from a chosen color theme, which she diligently follows while also incorporating a sprinkle of whimsy from ideas she discovers on Instagram or even invents herself. She lovingly calls her unique approach the “Christmas explosion.”

The main level of the Morris home is the pièce de résistance of their festive decor. A staggering nine artificial trees dot the interior, each resonating with its unique charm. The dining room is draped in hues of red and white, with nods to Santa Claus. A garland, adorned in red, white, and gold, gracefully drapes the primary banister, while a grand tree positioned at the main staircase curve makes an indelible statement with its bold ornaments. Hanging snowflakes welcome guests in the entryway, setting the tone for the festive journey ahead.

In the living room, the central tree, with it striking red and white appointments, all interspersed with opulent ornaments, offer a grand celebration of the season. Even the stockings, meticulously hung by the fireplace, seem to whisper Santa’s presence.

Choosing a favorite space in her home to decorate and enjoy, however, is a challenging task for Melissa. While the living room has traditionally been her favorite, with its roaring fireplace and the grandeur of a 14-foot-tall tree adorned with oversized candy canes, peppermints, sentimental keepsakes, and playful ornaments, the newly finished sunroom has certainly given it some competition. The sunroom’s tree is an elegant yet playful display, adding yet another layer of holiday spirit to her home with its red and white appointments. And those Coca-Cola polar bears are happy to stand guard over the festivities.

Every corner of Melissa’s home tells a holiday story, too. The basement boasts its own essence of Whoville, or, as some might say, a “Grinch tree.” with its lime-green hue and quirky ornaments. 

Melissa refers to her holiday decorating style as “whimsical bougie,” noting it is a perfect blend of fun and elegance. No one can deny that sentiment after taking a walk through this playful and enchanting expression of the holidays.

Not to be outdone by manufacturers of holiday décor, personal talent and craftsmanship is another of Melissa’s strong suits, and she puts that talent to use within her holiday style showcase. Handmade ornaments, painted cone trees, and inventive garland placements, especially around the kitchen’s light pendants, bear testament to her creativity. 

Despite all of the work that goes into the holiday spirit in the Morris household, Melissa never tackles this annual assignment alone. Come decoration time, the entire family chips in. While Mike and their three daughters handle the living room’s primary tree, Melissa manages the details. As for their son? He’s the designated cookie consumer!

But decorating isn’t just about aesthetics for Melissa. She deeply cherishes the holiday music, vibrant colors, and shimmering glitter that remind her of the season’s true essence: kindness, compassion, and the spirit of giving.

For the past 18 years, Melissa and Mike’s shared life along with their four kids has been an adventure. Their love for country living, DIY projects, and even breeding exotic Savannah cats, add chapters to their fascinating story.

As the cold winter winds whistle outside, stepping into Melissa’s festive abode is akin to wrapping oneself in a warm, comforting embrace. The meticulously curated decor doesn’t just dazzle the eyes; it reaches deep into the soul, invoking a nostalgia that’s both heartwarming and profound. It serves as a poignant reminder of the simple joys the holiday season brings – the laughter of loved ones, the melodious carols, and the shared moments of bliss. Amidst the shimmering lights and playful ornaments, one can’t help but be enveloped by a profound sense of warmth and contentment, a testament to the unparalleled magic of the holidays.

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