Kelly Rowland patiently waits until Nov. 1 to secretly begin listening to Christmas music in her car and pull out her decorations. “The first week of November, I unpack and place the decorations on tables in a storage area,” she reveals, strategizing a plan for the coming decorating occasion. She does not wish to interfere with the beauty of Thanksgiving, but the day after, it all begins to unfold.
“I taught Virginia studies in the New River Valley and in Winchester. I love Williamsburg and everything in and around the NRV, so the tree downstairs is decorated with all Virginia ornaments,” she explains. “I believe strongly that roots make you who you are, and I want that Virginia connection to be represented in one of my trees.”
The upstairs Christmas tree rests on gorgeous oak floors next to the stunning granite tile surround fireplace with white trim, all decorated beautifully for the holidays. An array of Santas from around the world adorns table tops and ledges. “My father brought me a Santa Claus from different countries when he traveled. Each one has a story, and it fills my heart to decorate with them,” Kelly relates. Her mom, Sandy Olsen, takes a walk down memory lane each year looking at every one and remembering wonderful travels and adventures with her late husband, Michael Olsen.
The eclectic Christmas blend that Kelly places around the house is a mixture of old and new. She uses her husband Keith’s grandmother’s dishes with newer pieces. Family history, their roots and the Christmas ornaments, stockings, lights and Santas mix up old with new providing a glimpse into the past intermingled with contemporary life of today.
Kelly is a Blacksburg native who moved away for Keith’s job. When her dad died in 2012, she felt the calling to come home and live near family. After driving all over the area, they spotted this acre+ lot on the edge of Blacksburg only to discover another family already claimed it. But that potential buyer went in another direction, and the Rowlands were able to purchase it. They broke ground with Legacy Builders for this charming brick and vinyl ranch [with full finished basement] in late summer of 2014 and moved in November – ah, just in time for her to decorate. Keith lends his hands decorating the trees as well. And the entire home exudes an exceptionally warm Christmas spirit across the centuries.
Text by Joanne M. Anderson | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography