When Katherine McCall first saw the house in Country Club Hills, she knew she was home. The white brick ranch, built in 1954, had been vacant for about a year. The once-beautifully landscaped yard, that garnered a compliment from President Eisenhower during a visit to Augusta, was grossly overgrown, but McCall saw past the dilapidated exterior to reveal a place she wanted to call home.
She recalls when she first walked in the house it reminded her of a Slim Aarons photo. (For decades, Aarons photographed the Hollywood elite in their homes.) “When I first walked in the house I felt like I was in one of his photographs.”
The McCalls made several offers on the house before it was theirs. “It was quite the process to get this house,” McCall says.
Once the home was theirs, the real work began. McCall, an artist and nurse, had a clear vision. She wanted to create a space that would showcase her love of art and be a haven for herself, her husband, George and their two sons. “I really wanted to honor what the house was,” says McCall. “I believe strongly in working with what you have.” Four years later, the Newnan, Ga., native has created a beautiful space for her family. She also has a great home for entertaining family and friends during the holidays.
“The holidays are especially meaningful to me,” McCall explains. “I host the holidays for my entire family. My goal is for everyone to feel at home when they walk in the door.”
When hosting the holidays, McCall calls on her friend, interior designer and owner of Brittany Cason Interior Design, Brittany Cason Johnston, to bring her holiday traditions to life. “Brittany is amazing. She has a way of incorporating my style while transforming my home into something magical for my family and guests.”
Upon their arrival, friends and family are greeted at the front door by a breathtaking wreath, made up of an abundance of fragrant fruit and natural greenery.
“It’s important to set the tone upon arrival,” says Johnston. “Fresh greenery is a must!” Johnston custom designed the McCall’s holiday decor around the home’s color palette, including lots of blue, white and pops of orange.
In the entryway, a round antique table is decorated with fresh flowers, greenery and candles welcoming guests to the McCall home.
The dining room is the focal point for the holidays. The table is elegantly dressed with her grandmother’s pink china, heirloom silver, crystal and linens. A gorgeous floral centerpiece comprised of seasonal flowers and fresh greens pull everything together, but it’s the dining room wall commands the attention of the room.
McCall’s grandfather was a friend of former Coca-Cola president and Atlanta philanthropist, R.W. Woodruff and his wife. For many years, her grandfather would receive hand-painted Christmas cards from the Woodruffs. Upon her grandparents passing, McCall, along with her sisters, inherited the collection and has displayed them beautifully over an antique French sofa. Above the mantle is a watercolor original by McCall herself titled “Living in the Light.” Keeping with the tradition, McCall has used her artistic skills to hand-paint Christmas cards to send to friends and family since 1994. Her inspiration tends to come to her at the last minute, requiring a family effort to get them addressed and mailed.
Upon entering the kitchen, guests are greeted by the aroma of nutmeg, vanilla and bourbon. Every year, McCall makes her grandfather’s homemade egg nog. The recipe, which dates back to 1944 and was handwritten by her grandfather, is displayed during the holidays.
Another tradition for the McCalls is making holiday cookies. “When we were first married, I wanted to give something to friends and family that was from both George and me,” she says. “So, I found a cookie recipe that requires no cooking.” The couple’s simple recipe consists of Ritz crackers sandwiched around peanut butter and dipped in white and milk chocolate. “It’s real simple, nothing fancy, but everyone loves them.” The cookie preparation has become a family affair, as they make hundreds of them during the holiday season.
Just off the kitchen, is the office where Johnston has hung the McCall’s embroidered stockings with an elegant soft ribbon and dressed the mantle with magnolias and fresh Christmas evergreens.
In the breakfast room, a rustic sideboard hosts an array of beautiful and decadent desserts, along with freshly brewed coffee.
Off the breakfast room is a set of French doors that open up to a well-manicured courtyard with a pool, fire pit and pool house that serves as McCall’s art studio. “I love to come out here and have my coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings,” McCall says. “This really is my favorite part about this house.”
To see more of the McCall’s home visit augustamagazine.com.
This article appears in the November-December 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.