By Madoline Markham
Photos by Lauren Ustad
Mike and Christine Denniston were ready for a new home—and a new project—when Christine stopped by one on Pine Ridge Trail on the way to a tennis match three years ago. “This is it!” she thought. “It’s just so pretty, and it was exactly what we were looking for,” she recalls today. Unlike the home they’d lived in for the previous two decades, there was no need for renovations on this one either—just furniture to fill its rooms and make them their own.
Built in 1985, the Colonial brick house boasts the touches of the builder who first lived in it with his family as well as the Eddleman family who moved afterward and John and Kendall Eagan, who lived in the home for the 25 years before the Dennistons. Kendall Eagan brought traditional upgrades to the home that make it feel like it’s from an earlier era, with added columns, marble and German glass around the front door that carries into other places in the home.
Christine especially favors the picture molding throughout the home. “It makes art pop,” she says. “It’s so fun to decorate with picture molding because I am so comforted by symmetry.”
And as it turned out, it was good timing for the Dennistons to furnish a new home larger than their previous one too. At first they bought some new pieces to fit the space, and then they ended up moving furniture from both Mike’s parents’ house in Mobile and Christine’s mom’s house in Fairhope as his dad and her mom moved to retirement communities not long after they had moved to Pine Ridge Trail.
Today in each room traditional pieces—many of them with Asian and coastal flair—from Mike’s parents’ home accent spaces with complementary more modern furnishings that are either new or were in the Dennistons’ previous home, along with Southeastern art the couple has collected. As she worked with interior designer Mandi Smith T, Christine has recovered chairs, added new lamp shades and cultivated more new touches to give heirloom pieces a fresh look too.
And then when it came time to decorate for the holidays and take things up a notch for the Samford Legacy League Christmas Home Tour last Christmas, Christine enlisted Mandi as well as her friend Susanna Davis to dress up the spaces with greenery and other holiday flair fitting with the home. The result is as timeless as the structure itself.
This light-filled room was added onto the house where a porch once was and has become the family’s favorite space in the house. “When you are in this room and there’s snow, it was fairy tale beautiful,” Christine says. Ribbon and bow make an extra statement on the tree along with the Dennistons’ ornament collection.
Mandi Smith T suggested bundling Christmas cards with ribbon for this space, and Christine had fun reminiscing years past looking through them.
Susanna Davis designed a more casual magnolia garland for this spacious room’s mantle. Behind it is a textured painting entitled “Last Night in Paris” that the Dennistons purchased in Sedona with their sons Robert and William just after Christine and Robert had traveled to France.
After Christine’s stepmother gave her gingerbread cookie cutters one year, it became a family tradition to make gingerbread houses—one they keep up in their bright white kitchen even now with sons in college.
The godmother of the Dennistons’ younger son gave him an engraved mint julep cup for each of his birthdays through age six, and Christine likes to put flowers in them any time of year.
Simple red pillows and a plaid throw blanket make this outdoor space hot chocolate-ready.
The whites and greenery on this more formal mantle complement the painting behind it by a Mobile artist. Christine purchased the coffee table in the room after moving into the home—and then realized the previous owners had had the same exact one in the room too.
Designer Mandi Smith T pulled colors from Mike’s parents’ rug for the décor palette of this room. The botanical artwork and lamps came from his parents’ Mobile home as well, but the chandelier was in the entryway of this home when they moved in. “I love having a crystal chandelier in a bedroom,” Christine says. “It’s kind of Hollywood.” A wreath on the armoire and florals on the coffee table dress up the room for the holidays too.
Behind the Scenes
Interior Design & Holiday Décor: Mandi Smith T Interiors
Florals & Holiday Décor: Susanna Davis, Susu’s Petals
About the Home Tour
The Samford University Legacy League holds a Christmas Home Tour each year to raise money for scholarships for students with significant financial need and challenging circumstances. Last year the Dennistons’ home was on the tour, and this year it will feature five homes in Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.
Christmas Home Tour
Thursday, Dec. 10
10 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-8 p.m.
Tickets available at Samford.edu/legacyleague or at the door of featured homes.