This Traditional Home Features Classic Christmas Decor with a Citrus Twist

In a Boston suburb, a once on-the-go couple keeps Christmas rooted.

blue sitting room
Photo:

Sarah Winchester

Many traditions of the Christmas season never change for Cynthia and Bill Sibold: church choir music, the scent of a fresh Christmas tree, and the comforting aromas of gingerbread baking in the kitchen. What has changed often, though, is the location of the Sibolds’ celebrations. 

As a young married couple, the Sibolds, both originally from Canada, lived in various spots in the United States from New England to California. A career opportunity moved them to Australia. After that, they came back to New England, this time to a home in the Boston suburb of Wellesley, Massachusetts. 

Sibold family

Sarah Winchester

When they first moved into their Wellesley house, Cynthia and Bill’s interior design priorities focused on the music room and playroom to accommodate their three young children’s leisure time and interests. But as the children grew older, Cynthia knew an update was in order. She called Boston interior designer Gerald Pomeroy for new dining room curtains. Just dining room curtains. Then they asked Pomeroy to redesign the living room. Just the living room. But like those Christmas treats where one bite leads to another, the craving for decorating grew. 

“Gerald knew that we were ready for our home to be more sophisticated,” Cynthia says. “So he gently nudged us to finish it all. He envisioned a way to decorate our interiors so that they reflected how important home is to us. Before then, we didn’t have the time or weren’t committed to being in one place, so we pulled together what we had and it all worked. But with our intentions to stay put, we welcomed a design that was more thorough.” 

yellow christmas front door

Sarah Winchester

Even before the Sibolds gave Pomeroy the green light to proceed, his creativity had already kicked in. He thought of many ways that this house, built in 1916, could be updated. But while many clients are interested in making a house larger with additions, the Sibolds were determined to respect the original architecture of the house. That meant keeping the existing footprint and focusing on a new decorative complexion that’s classic but with a fresh attitude. 

orange christmas fireplace

Sarah Winchester

“There’s a fine line when you are trying to achieve timeless design,” Pomeroy says. “You can’t only stick with the classics in their original states because they, too, are meant to be adapted and made current. There’s always a new approach to design, so it doesn’t become too expected.” 

Two statement patterns—a zebra stripe on a barrel chair and a bird print on linen drapery panels—keep the living room design active. Patterned pillows provide extra movement on the armless sofa and chaise.

christmas garland staircase

Sarah Winchester

Color is one way Pomeroy addresses a facelift. A tour through the house unfolds both bolds and neutrals that provide a foil for extra colorful holiday decorations. Take the foyer, for instance. A butternut squash hue warms the wall on a textured grass-cloth damask. Because the foyer stretches from the front of the house to the back, Pomeroy saw opportunity for both a surface and seating. Instead of a round skirted table, he selected a hexagonal one that softly introduces a modern geometric spin. The white frame of a new settee contrasts velvet upholstery in the same butternut color. 

 A garland of winter greens, oranges, and kumquats drapes the stairway and enhances the color of the walls. “Each room has a unique feel to it,” Bill says. “[Designer] Gerald [Pomeroy] was successful at making each space capture and carry our journeys from the cultural tones that were used to pieces that are special to our family’s history.” 

orange living room christmas tree

Sarah Winchester

In the living room, which heightens the toasty palette, a vibrant apricot splashes over the room’s walls, linking the various seating areas created throughout the long space. 

blue sitting room

Sarah Winchester

The guiding palette design principle of taking an accent color from one room and making it the main color in the next shines in the space the Sibolds refer to as the “blue room.” Throw pillows in the living room informed the scheme of the blue room, which serves as a library and den.

This relaxation space shows off a bevy of beautiful fittings. A pair of striped armchairs and a heavily patterned sofa sit atop a rug with an organic pattern. “I spend a lot of time in this room, and I like its proportions,” Bill says. “Our home is not grand with vaulted ceilings and large additions. We never wanted to make the house big just for the sake of getting bigger. It is an old house, and it was important to us that we respect its original plan.”

blue living room Christmas tree

Sarah Winchester

Its perimeter is bathed in a medium blue that lays a dynamic foundation for textiles, including a dramatic sofa fabric that depicts lush tree branches and leaves. A second Christmas tree in cooler tones dazzles in a corner near the window seat. 

open shelves office

Sarah Winchester

Subsequent rooms depart from bold colors and embrace quieter tones, but they continue to charm with mixes of intentionally mismatched furnishings that show the symphonic capabilities of timeless forms.

Cynthia's office is a treasure trove of objects that are meaningful to her. “When you move a lot, you curate a collection of the things that are the most special,” she says.

christmas dining room

Sarah Winchester

In the dining room, a modern glass chandelier flickers over reproduction furniture. Pomeroy rolled out a cheetah-print rug to anchor reproduction Gustavian chairs and a Sheratonstyle table.

white kitchen

Sarah Winchester

Both the kitchen and Cynthia’s office operate in creamy neutrals that offer a serene vibe ideal for uninterrupted work. The kitchen plays host to Christmas baking, which means time together with the Sibolds’ three college-age children.

neutral bedroom

Sarah Winchester

The primary bedroom glows in luscious warm tones showcasing ecru velvet on the bed and tan paint applied to the ceiling. At the end of the four-poster, a French-inspired settee provides seating.

gallery wall stair case

Sarah Winchester

A collection of paintings by mostly Canadian artists pays tribute to Bill and Cynthia’s origins in Canada. Laya, their Cavapoo, basks on the window seat that’s given extra pizzazz by Florentine-pattern toss pillows.

The Sibolds’ tenure in this house has been significant now—and the design that it bears makes it easy for them to enjoy staying in place. 

Bill notes they never wanted a look that was “good for the next year.” Cynthia agrees. “When we come home from our travels, it’s like walking into a hug,” she says. “Since we’ve lived far from our extended families for so long, we’ve had to develop our own traditions. And in this house, that feels so special.” 

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