Christmas Magic Sparkles in Franklin Lakes

A design pro transforms her historic Franklin Lakes farmhouse for the holidays.

One of the home’s two fireplaces is aglow with lit candles. The mostly white palette is consistent throughout the house.
One of the home’s two fireplaces is aglow with lit candles. The mostly white palette is consistent throughout the house.
Photo by Laura Moss

Meredith Kipp has a thing about the holidays. The interior designer and lifestyle blogger goes all out for Christmas, spending nearly two weeks decorating her Franklin Lakes house, a task she affectionately calls “making magic.” Fortunately, Meredith’s husband, Ryerson, is also a creative type. Together, they transform their 1805 farmhouse into a winter wonderland.

Meredith grew up in this town and much of her close-knit family still live close by. Ryerson is from Vermont; the pair met freshman year in art school at Syracuse University and started dating during senior year. They seemed to be made for each other. “We both had workshops in our houses growing up,” says Meredith, “and we both are dedicated do-it-yourselfers.”

After graduation, Meredith worked as a photo stylist, designer and creative director for home magazines, then parlayed her skills into a full-time interior-design career. She’s also a lifestyle blogger (check her out at amerelife.com). Ryerson is the chief creative officer at the advertising agency he started with a partner after college. Together Meredith and Ryerson have a daughter, Kate, now 2.

Their home, located on busy Pulis Avenue, is known locally as the Pulis farmhouse for its first owner. Originally situated on 1,000 acres, the land was eventually subdivided and the house now sits on a 1.25 acre plot. The Kipps, who moved in four years ago, are only the sixth owners of the 3,300-square-foot farmhouse.

“This home’s got good bones and thoughtful previous owners,” says Meredith. It didn’t need much, but they did undertake a few projects to suit their tastes.

With the home in good shape, Meredith has plenty of time to create holiday magic. Taking turns hosting the enormous extended clan at Christmas—more than 40 family members are local—is a time-honored family tradition.

“My grandparents used to host 60 to 80 people,” says Meredith. “My parents are now phasing out, and it’s up to my generation.” While Ryerson focuses on the food, Meredith handles the decorations. “I’m the ambience-focused one. I like to dazzle everyone,” she says. “I want people to walk through a space and be surprised.”

First up is the enormous tree, which sits in the shadow of the stairs. The Kipps decorate it with a mix of ornaments, a vast collection that includes hand-me-downs from their grandparents along with garage- and estate-sale finds. “We mix very old with new and weird ornaments,” says Meredith, pointing out a whimsical glass pickle. The tree-topper is a favorite freebie from her time at Elle Décor magazine.

Decorations fill every room. So do tables to accommodate the anticipated Christmas-day dinner crowd. Because the home is not yet fully furnished, there is room for temporary tables in all the open spaces. White is the dominant color. “I really like that palette,” says Meredith. “Whites and bones and silvery grey.”

The couple buys fresh evergreen garlands from the local Boy Scout troop to adorn the front door as well as the mantels of the home’s two fireplaces. The fireplace in the living room is filled with white candles, in keeping with the monochromatic theme.

Christmas dinner is a festive affair. Food is prepared in the couple’s farmhouse kitchen, then served buffet style on the huge kitchen island. “We all go clockwise to keep the traffic moving,” says Meredith. On the menu: butternut squash soup followed by a deep-fried turkey accompanied by roasted root vegetables, a kale and fig salad, and Ryerson’s family recipe for creamy mashed potatoes. The Kipps insist that every diner gets a place to sit.

“Christmas is my favorite holiday,” says Meredith, stating the obvious. “It’s all about magic and wonder and family.”

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