Green and Modern at Pennsylvania

Lee and Amy Calisti’s Contemporary home perches in the clearing of a Coastal cul-de-sac in the Early Academy Hill Area of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Clad in a geometric orchestration of brick, glass, concrete and steel, the home strikes a balance of harmonious, refreshing and functional. “Eliminating the excess was a sustainable and also a visual target,” says Lee.

Lee, who is an architect, called his home House 6, and it represents his ongoing interest in contemporary, environmentally conscious single-family home design that’s also affordable. He says, “My home is my family’s refuge, my business card and my doctrine of home in a neat package.”

in a Glance
Who lives here: Lee and Amy Calisti and boy Noah
Location: Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Size: 2,217 square feet; 3 bedrooms; 3 baths
That is intriguing: The building site was formerly undeveloped; no virgin land was disturbed to build the house.

Adrienne DeRosa

“From picking a building site to selecting materials to be used in the home, sustainability without excess expense was the goal of designing my family home,” says Lee. The south-facing rear allows for continuous sunlight through the day, saving on energy and heating prices throughout the year. Balconies away from the living room and master bedroom offer a place to take from the hilltop view.

Minimal glass onto the western side of the house celebrates the materials of the exterior and keeps the effects of harsh winter storms. The exterior materials include a combination of brick, Galvalume out of Atas, flat-seam metal panels and split-face concrete block.

Adrienne DeRosa

The exterior of House 6 exudes a clean design aesthetic also found throughout the inside. Lee designed the steel mailbox and had it constructed by a local fabricator.

Door: Low thermal-emissivity glass, Pella

Adrienne DeRosa

Light from large south-facing windows and doors illuminates the living space, reducing the demand for artificial lighting during the daytime. This complements Lee’s plan for cost effective living and also creates a warm glow that softens the house’s modern geometry.

All living room seating: La-Z-Boy

Adrienne DeRosa

The spacious living area is Lee’s and Amy’s favorite spot in the house. “Even when we have family and friends over, everybody can still feel together, even if they are spread throughout the kitchen, dining and living rooms,” says Amy.

Adrienne DeRosa

Massive windows welcome in views of the outside. Most of the kitchen storage sits below the counter line, making an expansive feeling that opens up the northeast corner of the house.

All windows: non thermal-emissivity glass, Pella.

Adrienne DeRosa

The spacious kitchen features stainless steel appliances and custom-made maple wood cabinetry with Andredas Kitchens. The Bosch stove and dishwasher are Energy Star compliant, and the floor is Forbo by Marmoleum, a natural linoleum material. Magnetic jars over the range offer convenient access to spices.

Adrienne DeRosa

The couple decided a warm main color palette for the primary living areas. “Amy suggested all the color ranges, and also we have large samples to hang on the walls in the space during construction,” Lee says. “Several decades later, we enjoy them just as much.”

Adrienne DeRosa

A blouse by 10-year-old boy Noah adds a personal touch, infusing the space with warmth of the heart and hand.

Adrienne DeRosa

“We both share a passion for clean and simple furnishings that feel comfortable also,” Amy says of this couple’s decorating philosophy. Symmetrical arrangements throughout the home, as seen here from the living area, play the asymmetry of the windows, lending rhythm to the space. The interplay between soft and hard, sleek and textural, and contemporary and traditional appears throughout the home. Lee says, “My wife keeps me grounded and real. She adds a balance to the kind of our home.”

Adrienne DeRosa

The guest bath has a stainless steel bowl sink plus a mirror that is floating, which Lee designed utilizing a simple glass and wood plank.

Adrienne DeRosa

The warm color scheme of this first floor carries through to the upstairs. The washer and dryer are tucked away on the right behind triple-paneled doors.

Paint: Hubbard Squash and Rookwood Terra Cotta, Sherwin-Williams

Adrienne DeRosa

The master bedroom includes a refreshing and cool color palette. Lee designed a lengthy window over the headboard so they could see the sunrise every morning. An Ikea color installed onto a sliding path covers a different window for privacy. The color is left open throughout the day and acts as a contemporary tapestry, introducing pattern involving the area’s geometry.

Paint: Icelandic, Sherwin Williams; Chair cloth: Jo-Ann; rocking seat: Ikea

Adrienne DeRosa

Lee is a minimalist in mind and designed the master bedroom closets to conceal garments and dressers. The Shaker-style cupboard doors by Alno Inc. have simple railings and recessed panels, paired with contemporary stainless pulls. Lee used the exact same drawer and pull styles throughout the house.

Adrienne DeRosa

Striped walls and boyhood collections provide Noah’s room a youthful allure. “We felt it was important for Noah to have a place of his own, so we let him choose how to decorate it,” says Lee. “He wanted stripes, thus we painted stripes.”

Adrienne DeRosa

Lee and Amy’s next home projects include installing built in storage and stone countertops, and finishing the basement as a playroom for Noah.

More Tours:
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An Aussie Home Mingles With Nature

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What to Do About Ants & White Stuff On My Poinsettia Plant

As perennials, poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) brighten late-season Mediterranean-climate gardens in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. In colder areas, they’ve become fundamentals of indoor winter decorating schemes. Thus a mysterious white material and streams of ants covering your poinsettia’s flame-red bracts and pine-green leaves are nothing if not alarming. The prisoners accountable are messy, sap-stealing insects. Without quick therapy, they might doom your own plant.

Fulfill the Mealybugs

As tender-stemmed plants, poinsettias are favorite feeding sites for pink hibiscus mealybugs. The pinkish insects conceal themselves under a protective layer of wax. As a result of the wax and their heavenly white egg sacs, the mealybugs resemble bits of cotton fluff scattered over the poinsettia’s leaves and stalks. Adult mealybugs overwinter on poinsettia leaves and stalks or in the soil around the plants. Their newly hatched larvae crawl out of the egg sacs to start feeding. Breeze and ants also carry them to new locations.

Detect the Damage

The mealybugs feed by sucking the sap leaf and stems. In the process, they also inject toxic, leaf-curling saliva. Twisted stems, stunted development and failure to blossom all point to their presence, and a badly infested poinsettia may die. The insects have another annoying habit: They excrete undigested sap as sticky, transparent honeydew, a sugary waste which lures hungry ants to the plant.

Annihilate the Ants

Ants are voracious honeydew feeders, and you’re going to have them on your own poinsettia so long as your plant has mealybugs. To control the ants, place sugar-based, boric-acid-laced ant bets along the ant trails leading to your plant. When they come to collect the honeydew, some of the ants may also transport the lure back to their nests, in which it can slowly poison the entire colony. It may be more than a month before your poinsettia is free of their ants.

Ax Them With Alcohol

While awaiting the ants to evaporate, combine your baiting campaigns using a direct assault to the mealybugs. Chemical insecticides do not penetrate the insects’ wax covering. To do the task, spray on your poinsettia till it drips with a solution of 1 quart of water, 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and one tsp of insecticidal soap concentration. The alcohol dissolves the adult bugs’ waxy coating so they die, and the insecticidal soap suffocates the larva and eggs. Duplicate the application daily or every other day till the mealybugs are eliminated.

Wash Them Away

Pink hibiscus mealybugs are capable of reproducing several times per year. After you’ve eliminated an infestation, then track your poinsettia frequently. At the very first indication of a new infestation, then place your garden hose attachment to fine and also direct the spray to the backs of their leaves and the stems. For optimum effectiveness, spray in the early morning for 2 consecutive days.

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What Pepper Can You Put on Seed So Squirrels won't Eat It?

The fruit sometimes referred to as bird pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), that is a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b during 11, is harmless to birds, but it can pack a mean punch for marauding squirrels at bird feeders. If you want to put squirrels from the hot seat in your feeders, combine ground varieties of bird pepper with the seeds.

How it Works

Bird pepper is only one of the ordinary names of numerous peppers from the Capsicum genus. These peppers range in pungency because of varying levels of capsaicinoids, primarily capsaicin. Paprika contains capsaicinoid speeds up to 30 parts per thousand, while some red peppers have concentrations of 13,000 parts per thousand. Cayenne pepper, which is commonly used as a squirrel deterrent, is ground from a mixture of some of the very pungent varieties.Mammals, such as people and squirrels, have brain receptors that react to the capsaicinoids in onions with a sense of burning. But because birds lack these receptors, as well as having no sense of taste, they’re unaffected.

How to Apply It

Scatter ground cayenne or dried red pepper flakes onto birdseed and blend it into the seeds. If the wind is strong enough, however, it may blow the ground pepper from the feeder. Optionally, spray the bird seed with an aerosol kitchen oil product, or use a non-aerosol mister to use the oil, prior to applying the pepper so that it clings to the seeds. But rain may wash pepper from the seeds even in the event that you’ve implemented oil, and that means you have to continue adding pepper into the seeds to deter the squirrels.

Feeding Habits

If you notice an inordinate number of seeds lost from your bird feeder compared to the number of squirrels you begin eating there, chalk this up into the squirrels’ hoarding behaviour. Squirrels eat some of the seeds, however they also cache seeds and other foods to have a winter food supply. Squirrel activity in your feeders can ramp up from the autumn because it is the time of year they actively shop food for the winter.


Should you employ ground pepper into bird seed, avoid breathing in the powder. And if you handle pepper powder or fluids, wash your hands with soap and water immediately afterward, or wear gloves so that you do not forget and rub your eyes. Because squirrels have broken their eyes from rubbing them after managing hot pepper, The University of Nebraska Lincoln urges other deterrents for squirrels, primarily using exclusion feeders, which permit the birds in but keep the squirrels out. Kinds of exclusion feeders include people who have cages, baffles and weighted hoppers.

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How to Eradicate Speedwell at Lawns

Speedwell (Veronica species) is a low-growing plant which produces blue flowers and propagates easily from small root sections, making it a challenging weed to eradicate. Several annual and perennial species are indigenous to the United States and a few are advertised as border plants. Speedwell creates numerous slender branches which spread and root immediately creating a carpet. Pest species of speedwell are resistant to herbicides because of hairs. A couple of herbicides may offer some control although careful removal is the best method of eradication.

Locate speedwell plants. Glasses, dig the whole plant with a shovel or garden trowel, eliminating 6 inches of dirt away from the base of the plant. Eliminate and any broken stem sections and set them in a garbage bag for disposal.

Mix in the sprayer according to label instructions and spray on some remaining plants. To get a heavy infestation areas of the lawn may be sprayed and replanted.

Till heavily infested areas with a rototiller and rake remaining pieces of their speedwell from the area. This method works best for places on the fringes of lawns or gardens and have to be repeated several days to get rid of the plants. Herbicide applications in conjunction with rototilling can prove successful.

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How to Tile a Shower Inexpensively

Tile showers provide your bathroom a more sophisticated look than prefabricated vinyl shower liners. Tiling a shower doesn’t need to be pricey. Use faux tiles, inexpensive tile alternatives and even some unconventional alternatives to get the look you need without breaking your bank account.

Sales and Bargains

Check with the local floor covering store for leftover tiles that have been returned, declined by the customer or left over from tasks they’ve done. Also ask about discount and clearance tiles. Just like with clothing, tile producers update the styles they offer and occasionally sell products at a deep discount. Mixing and matching odd boxes of leftover tiles using an aesthetic strategy could lend your shower a new look. Be creative with all the inexpensive choices that are available to you.

Recycled Glass

Recycle old glass to fresh shower tiles. Take the pieces cut as small or as big as you pick. Wearing protective gloves, clean the glass well, sand any sharp or rough edges and paint the back side using a layout, if you opt for. Once the paint has dried, glue the panes into the wall and seal in between any borders using a waterproof silicone. Recycled glass is inexpensive, unique and offers hassle-free clean up. Glass is also resistant to the mold and stains that mar standard shower grout and tiles.

Out With the Old

Save money on labor by taking away the old tiles from the wall and floor yourself. Removal and cleanup can take a few hours; this task is billed by installers at their regular hourly rate, even when they are only sweeping the ground, and may add up to a few hundred dollars before installment ever gets started. Eliminating installing and tiles and preparing the walls, while dull, can readily be carried out by even a house repair newcomer.

Install Yourself

For the most significant economies, do the installation yourself. Figuring out the tiles, setting them into the wall and grouting around them is a technique that may be discovered in a short moment. Tile installation’s largest challenge is cutting the corner and finish tiles. This can be done using a distinctive wet saw that you may rent at the local hardware store. The price for the tool for an entire day’s usage is about the same as approximately 1 half hour of installation labor.

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Home Improvement Ideas for Adding on a Family Room

Insert a family room to your house to help your family and you can spend quality time at a serene and relaxing atmosphere. Reclaiming or creating the space for a household room can also help you increase your home’s value. According to”Remodeling” magazine 2009 to 2010 Cost vs. Value Report, including a family room to your house will cost you, normally, $82,760 and raise the value of your house by $54,050. This means that you may recover 65 percent of the money that you invest in a room dedicated to the pleasure of your family.

Mulitpurpose Family Room

Layout. In the end, this is an inclusion, which means you’ve got a blank canvas to work with. Plan for lots of shelves and cabinets to store your growing collection of grandma’s china collection, board games and books. Use sectional sofas they can be moved around based on what use you’re giving the family room. By installing a office area at one of the corners of the 21, Make the most of the functionality of your family room. A small desk, a comfy seat and a computer are all you need to create a snug house office close where you can be near your loved ones.

Outdoor Family Room Addition

Start from scratch by minding a 16-by-25-foot room, indicates”Remodeling” magazine. Use vinyl siding a crawl space foundation and a fiberglass rook to keep prices down. Install gutters interiors and fiberglass insulation in addition to a hardwood flooring that is homey. Contain when everything you need to do is read a book, two skylights and some large windows to take advantage of lighting. Subscribe to your home’s electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems. All of the gadgets your family and install a house theater loves, and you’ve got a purpose-made entertainment area for all of the family.

Family Room Basement Remodel

You can create a family room by reclaiming the distance currently squandering away below your toes In case you’ve got a basement. Drywall walls — make sure you insulate exterior walls — and ceiling through the cellar. Keep things simple by repairing panel doorways and using painted drywall panels. Contain a full bath, a bar area with a small refrigerator and cabinets, a area with lots of space to your favorite reclining seat, couch, flat-screen TV and gaming console.

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Along with the Community Award Goes to … a 'Zen Barn'

The professional couple who lives in this Ottawa, Ontario, house calls their house a “Zen barn” for the rustic reclaimed hardwood exterior and chic design. Rich textures inside and outside warm up the modern appearance, and natural light flows into the home from all directions. “The stairwell, courtyard and second-floor deck over the dining area all let the interior space sense interconnected to the outdoors,” says designer Rick Shean, of the Ottawa company Christopher Simmonds Architect. Although this is an unabashedly contemporary design, neighbors adopted it, helping to win an award for the best new construct in the area in October 2012.

at a Glance
Location: New Edinburgh, Ottawa, Ontario
Size: 3,100 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

Christopher Simmonds Architect

Christopher Simmonds Architect

One of the reasons Shean thinks the home delighted so many of his clients’ neighbors is your structure’s size. “It’s not a monstrosity of a house. The size is pretty consistent with the rest of the area, and its outside is warm and inviting,” he says. Functional yet decorative red bell lights from Axo Light add to the home’s curb appeal.

Lights: Alteriors

Christopher Simmonds Architect

“This home is as much about organic light and artistic, functional light since it is about the home’s design,” Shean says. “Light moves through the construction and changes the distance in reaction to the textures across the interior and exterior.”

Christopher Simmonds Architect

Shean used century-old reclaimed white oak from southwestern Ontario, as well as prefinished aluminum in some areas. “Studies show that this wood will lose around a quarter of an inch in depth every 100 years, so even though it’s 100 years old now, it has quite a few years to go before it needs to be replaced,” he says. The oak came from a local store, The Wood Source.

Christopher Simmonds Architect

Floating cabinets store items and include geometric interest. Book spines, a floral floral arrangement and the bell pendant give this part of the home a couple of unexpected doses of colour.

Floating cabinets: custom by CSA; live-edge table: Urban Tree Salvage

Metal bracelets by Tom Dixon hanging over the kitchen island follow the duration of the courtyard. Double-glazed Marvin windows help keep the warmth indoors.

The floor is a lightweight concrete having an epoxy topping, an elegant low-maintenance choice that resists scuffs and shoe marks. This component of the home makes the most of the available all-natural light, even in the very long Canadian winters.

Christopher Simmonds Architect

Ash wood treads warm up the metal stairs. Radiant floor heating keeps feet toasty on all levels of the home.

A number of wood textures and tones provides the room a cozy character and contrasts nicely with the stark white of the walls, flooring and ceiling.

Christopher Simmonds Architect

“My client known as the home a work of art when he noticed that the reclaimed wood siding move up,” Shean says. “It’s probably one of the greatest compliments a designer can get from his client.”

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Hey, Slick: Length Leather Glosses Up the Home

Few things match the supple, mellow feel of genuine leather — and the very best thing about patent leather is that it does not even try. That glossy feel and plasticky shine have the unrestrained, indulgent allure of a childhood pair of Mary Janes. And to get a substance that children can’t get enough of, it appears surprisingly sophisticated in your home.

These spaces interpret patent leather in new and surprising ways. Which one inspires you most?

Nicole Lanteri Design

In a different room this set of red patent leather seats may have shouted of drama and glamour. Here they provide only enough sheen to elevate the matte surfaces at the area.

The Vintage Laundry

Red patent goes in a totally different direction. Sleek slipper chairs along with a zebra-print rug make a bold, complex impact.

Tiffany Eastman Interiors

A glistening chocolate chandelier tops this off pink bonbon of a space like a dollop of hot flashes.

Evelyn Benatar, New York Interior Design

A sweet, stylized flower-shaped headboard goes retro chic under a veneer of white patent leather.

Black patent makes a suitably sassy partner for its mirrored walls, overscale sconces and other art deco elements of this room.

Frank Pitman Designs

Patent leather walls? Nailheads? Outrageous. A caveat: You would need perfectly smooth walls to produce this work; with big lumps and bumps, the look would be cluttered.

Jonathan Adler

Orange Leather and Linen Pillow – $148

Timid about going full-on shiny? Start small. This neutral pillow (linen on one side, leather onto the other) is trimmed in blazing orange patent for a quick hit of colour and gloss.


Mirrored Bench – $1,199

A rust-brown patent leather chair makes this mirrored seat worthy of a Hollywood Regency inside.

Pop Louis Side Chairs – $395

What is more fun than a Louis-style seat clad in patent leather? A dab of neon colour in the mix.

Patent Pendant Lamp – $650

How swank is this pendant light? That small glimpse of harlequin pattern lining the inside is simply too much.


Ted Baker London Ted Letter Quilted Notebook Case – $90

If a plain black notebook bag dulls down your style, perhaps this pink patent variant will do just fine.

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The Way Moles Harm Trees

It’s possible to discover a soft spot in your heart for the mole that’s consuming your yard if you recall that the tiny carnivore is controlling the pest population. Moreover, its unsightly tunnels are aerating the soil. It could be tricky to maintain this warm feeling when you notice your trophy maple sapling withering, but keep in mind that the esophagus likely is not doing the harm directly — a root-eater might have invaded the mole’s tunnels.

Food Tunnels

A mole announces its presence on your lawn with two telltale signs; those are surface tunnels that resemble raised veins, and molehills — volcano-like heaps of loose dirt. The molehills connect to main runways which have feeding tunnels branching off, and based on the activity level of the mole, there might be many of those divisions. Moles are constantly digging fresh feeding tunnels looking for grubs and larvae, and they do so at a speed of 1 foot every 3 minutes. In case you’ve got a mole, it is likely lonely, because moles don’t like to share land with each other.

Eroding the Soil

Moles don’t eat tree roots — or even any roots, for that matter — because they are carnivorous. If you’re digging around the roots of a tree in your yard, it is because there are insect larvae there, and even if there are many larvae, the esophagus might dig several tunnels to get them. This can erode the earth round the roots, which, in turn, may not get enough water, and the tree could wilt and also perish. This behavior is most likely if the tree is in loose, moist soil, because that is the kind of soil in which moles prefer to dig.

Tunnel Invaders

Moles can directly damage your tree roots by giving access to rodents, like voles, that do want to feed on the roots. Voles are about precisely the same size as moles, and they might take over an abandoned tunnel. Unlike moles, voles are social, so that there may be many of these. In case voles have invaded your lawn, you might see one, because they occasionally come above ground. Beside attacking roots, voles also go for the bark, and you might notice 1/16- to 1/8-inch wide gnaw marks to the lower trunk of your dying tree. Even though you can not see them, the roots of the tree usually have the exact marks.

Mole Control

There are lots of folk treatments for a mole problem, however, the perfect way to get one from your lawn is to trap it. You might find the notion of cutting or cutting a mole with a lethal trap disagreeable — in that case, set a live trap by burying a java can close a tunnel entry. The issue with this approach — and with trapping in general — is finding an active entry or an active tunnel. If you would like to protect a particular tree, a much more effective approach may be to build a hardware fabric barrier around it. The obstacle must extend at least 2 feet deep to be effective.

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New York's Wilderstein House Dresses Up to Christmas

Design professionals have decked out that the Wilderstein Historic Site in a stunning array of Christmas decor for 2012. Tucked away on a tropical knob overlooking the Hudson River in Rhinebeck, New York, this prestigious Queen Anne mansion is considered the Hudson Valley’s most important example of Victorian architecture and has a Calvert Vaux–designed landscape. The Wilderstein estate has also played host to important figures in American history — that the home was once home to Margaret Suckley, an intimate companion of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The pair’s near and well-chronicled relationship is the subject of the film Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Laura Linney as Suckley and Bill Murray as FDR.

Only a short drive from New York City, the 19th-century home supplies ideas and inspiration for traditionally elegant Christmas decor, either in person or through this virtual trip.

Location: 330 Morton Road, Rhinebeck, New York
Hours: Weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. throughout the end of December; open for tours May through October, Thursday through Sunday, from noon until 4 p.m.
Price: $10 adults; $9 students and seniors; complimentary for children below 12

Rikki Snyder

Rikki Snyder

Tess Casey of Aisling Flowers decorated the main dining area. Warm reds play ornate coffered ceilings and the first chandelier. Roses take centre stage on a gold-dressed dining table.

Rikki Snyder

Metallic ornaments, traditional candelabras and glittery artificial birds finish the tablescape. Pinecones, crimson roses and silver and gold decorations decorate a tree in the corner.

Rikki Snyder

Evergreen garlands draped in crimson fabric dress the fireplace.

Rikki Snyder

New flowers in the sink, vegetables in a colander and a simple hanging wreath add a sense of story to the butler’s pantry, decorated by Marijane Grassie.

Rikki Snyder

Designers in The Flower Barn gave the library splashes of holiday sparkle.

Rikki Snyder

Greenery, pink poinsettias and crimson ribbons decorate the fireplace.

Rikki Snyder

The crimson and pink color scheme has a fragrance on the desk.

Rikki Snyder

Rikki Snyder

Geoff Howell styled the salon, with a trio of all tree-decorating polar bears.

Rikki Snyder

Rikki Snyder

The combination of blue, gold and white brings a different feel to the more conventional parlor, decorated by Wonderland Florist. This miniature tree is trimmed with an unexpected combination of blue bows and dried hydrangeas.

Rikki Snyder

Gargoyles decorated the entry hall with red poinsettias and classic gold bits.

Rikki Snyder

Simple decorations are sufficient with timber this lovely. A simple pile of red and gold Christmas balls is this mantel requires for the holidays.

Rikki Snyder

A wreath of dried citrus, berries, pinecones and artificial veggies by Battenfeld Christmas Tree Farm greets visitors at the entry.

Rikki Snyder

Position window baskets with evergreens and red berries bring holiday color to the porch, decorated by Joyce Meisinger.

Rikki Snyder

Rikki Snyder

The property surrounding the Wilderstein house was first bought by Thomas Holy Suckley in 1852, because his wife, Catherine Murray Bowne, wanted a construction site with striking natural features. The cedar and evergreen trees on the house gave the couple the link to nature they were trying to find.

Evergreens, crimson berries and pinecones come in a simple swag outside.

See more photographs from this holiday home tour

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