The Beaufort Homes for the Holidays tour of homes is something people look forward to every year.
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, people come from all over to the Beaufort area to go on this tour. There are groups of women who make it part of a girls’ weekend. There’s even a group that travels all the way from Canada to attend the event, said organizer Mary Cunningham.
They come to see the beautiful homes. They come to get ideas for decorating their own homes. They come to support the students of St. Peter’s Catholic School. Proceeds from the event, now in its 14th year, benefit the school’s tuition assistance fund. Last year’s tour raised $50,000 for the cause, Cunningham said.
According to Ann Feltner, co-principal of St. Peter’s Catholic School, that money is much-needed. She said approximately 47 percent of the school’s student population is receiving tuition assistance this year.
This year’s tour consists of five homes and one river cabin in Bull Point Plantation in Seabrook. Each place has its own designer who will decorate for the holidays. Some of the designers will be available during the tour to answer questions and offer consultations.
Ann Higgins of Scout Southern Market in Beaufort is participating in the event for her second year.
“It was great exposure,” Higgins said about her involvement in last year’s tour.
Higgins’ downtown shop specializes in Southern goods. She sells everything from furniture and chandeliers to — who would’ve guessed it — dill pickles. She also has a sweet tea bar, where customers can try a sweet tea float and other Southern-themed treats.
Last year, Higgins used items from her store to decorate a home for the tour. She brought in a bar cart, vases, lamps and candles. This year, she will do the same, sharing her store’s items with the homeowners.
The home will, of course, have a Southern theme and the style will be a classic Christmas. The house Higgins will decorate is on the water and is Lowcountry style, with lots of windows. She will aim to complement the home and the homeowner’s collection of blue-and-white Canton Ware with her own items.
Higgins said the homes on the tour will all be decorated in different styles — some traditional, some modern, some casual, some more fancy.
“Everybody kind of brings their own spin to it, takes the house as their canvas but then makes it their own,” Higgins said.
Laura Tucker of Laura Tucker Designs in Beaufort has offered her creative expertise to the holiday tour for at least five years.
“I enjoy doing it,” she said. “It’s for a nice cause.”
This year, Tucker gets to decorate the river cabin, which is a building open to residents of the community. She said it is like a wooden barn or a fish camp.
“It will be rustic in keeping with the character of the fish camp and using natural elements, along with some bright pops of color — red, green and white,” she said. The look will be “very natural, a lot of greenery,” she said.
While other homeowners are welcoming designers into their homes to take over the decorating, Bull Point resident Debbie Marzluff has volunteered to help with the project in her home.
The house is a traditional Lowcountry-style home with a front porch and a screened-in back porch overlooking Huspah Creek.
Anne Mitchell is the designer who will help Marzluff deck the halls, using the homeowner’s own holiday decorations. Marzluff has a nice collection of American Colonial antiques. She has Henri wooden ornaments. She has a collection of 25 or 30 White House ornaments. She has a Steinbach Nutcracker collection, and for the tree, she has Waterford Santas and Spode ornaments.
The dining table will be set with Spode Christmas tree china. Marzluff’s original carousel horse will also be used in some way.
“I hope it’s going to be something people want to see,” Marzluff said.
Other designers taking part in the tour include Edward Marchetti and Bill Thompson of Buds and Blooms, Maggie Engstrom of Sweet Bay, Dan Craft, Paula Bellamy and Janet Mark.
Holiday design tips from the professionals
For those who are looking for holiday decorating ideas, here are some tips from Ann Higgins of Scout Southern Market and Laura Tucker of Laura Tucker Designs, two of the designers involved in the 14th annual Homes for the Holidays house tour.
Higgins recently spoke to a group at Oldfield in Okatie about decorating for the holidays. She said it’s important to focus on where you spend most of your time.
“Is there a certain room? Do you sit in front of the fire? Do you like to entertain? Will you have a houseguest?” she said. “I like to take all of those things into consideration first and then go from there.”
Higgins has a simplistic approach to holiday decor. She said holidays should touch every room in a house, but there doesn’t have to be a “huge wow factor.”
Simply putting ornaments in an urn with Spanish moss in a powder room can be a subtle reminder that it is the holiday season. The entry into a house is important, with the front porch setting the theme for the entire home.
Higgins also suggests coming up with a color palette and sticking to it. The home she decorated last year on the Beaufort Homes for the Holidays tour had a warm, inviting environment so she incorporated warm colors — golds and copper, with a lot of fresh greenery. Instead of red, she used pink and cream.
Whatever the colors, Higgins said to use them all over the house.
Tucker encourages people to use the elements that they already have around them. Use vines, pine and magnolias as a base for decorating, and accent those items with personal decorations.
Tucker encourages people to attend the tour and get ideas from the homes on display.
“Get inspiration,” she said. “Get excited for the holidays. Get the spirit of Christmas started.”
IF YOU GO
The 14th annual Beaufort Homes for the Holidays tour of homes is scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Bull Point Plantation in Seabrook. Proceeds from the tour benefit St. Peter’s Catholic School’s tuition assistance fund. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at St. Peter’s Church or School, at various businesses in downtown Beaufort and on site on the days of the tour.