As part of an extensive renovation, square footage was added to the living room to create a space large enough for friends and family to gather. “Kim loves symmetry, so we did facing sofas and a pair of chairs to provide enough seating for everyone,” designer Erin Mixson explains. Atop the statement brick mantel is an abstract landscape by Ryan Coburn sourced through Ann Connelly Fine Art. Photos by Sara Essex Bradley

On Holiday: A country home offers a Christmas getaway just outside the city

When Shane Griffin decorates Mike and Kim Wampold’s St. Francisville home for Christmas, he leaves the living room’s Christmas tree unadorned. 

No ribbon. 

No ornaments. 

No tinsel. 

No star. 

Just the lights—placed by local St. Francis Christmas Trees upon delivery—shine through the dark green needles of the tree’s branches. 

It won’t stay this way for Santa’s visit, though. When the family of four makes their way to the country for the weekend, all the glittering adornments will come out, as will the hot cocoa and Christmas movies.

“I like to keep it more simple in the country,” Kim explains. “When we go there, we’re making memories together.”

One thing that went unchanged during the renovation was the exterior of the home. For the Christmas season, Shane Griffin used strands of real cedar garland and simple ribbon.

This desire for togetherness, both with each other as well as extended family and friends, was the driving force behind the sweeping renovation that has completely reimagined the country house that Mike purchased back in 1988.

“I decided that it was time to start inviting more people out here,” Kim recalls. “But Mike was insistent that it wasn’t ready, and once he gets something in his head, that’s it.”

Enlisting the help of architect John Jones of Al Jones Architects, contractor Hill Country Construction and designer Erin Mixson of Erin Mixson Interiors, the Wampolds set their sights on overhauling the entire interior not just to bring it up to date but also to better accommodate their entertaining-centric lifestyle. Construction officially kicked off in 2020. Most rooms were taken down to the studs. However, in spaces like the living room and kitchen, more extensive changes had to be made.

“We ended up adding a new great room and enlarging the kitchen,” Mixson explains. “Since this is a place where they gather with friends and family, we wanted to make sure there was ample space for everyone, as well as being functional.”

“I love to cook,” Kim says, “so the kitchen was big for me.” The room was reconfigured to increase functionality, especially considering the large holiday meals that would take place at the country home. However, the new design is also about beauty. Leading into the kitchen, arches finished in Venetian plaster create a grand entrance and set the room apart from the rest of the main living space.

With dreams of hosting large holiday meals, Kim says the kitchen was a top priority. The result is a space that marries south Louisiana with the South of France. A Lacanche range in “Armor Blue” is the centerpiece, but walls of cabinetry painted in a subtle grey create interest against cream walls and the light limestone floors, which were sourced from France. Given the low ceiling height, Mixson opted for glass-door cabinetry up top to give the impression of openness while also allowing Kim to display serveware. And while the double sinks and dishwashers are favorite features due to their practicality, the picture ledge that borders the room is a special touch that speaks to the heart of the home itself.

“We tried to incorporate framed artwork by the kids as much as we could,” Mixson says, noting the importance of sentimental touches in a home meant for making memories. “Their son is a prolific artist, and his work is wonderful. Framing and displaying it was the perfect way to incorporate something more meaningful.”

This carries into the hallway adjacent to the kitchen, where wires with clips are there for the two kids—Mick, 10, and Alder Rose, 6—to easily switch out their works. But the key, Mixson says, is in keeping these child-focused elements subtle and tasteful.

Natural light is the real star in the dining room, where the chairs were slipcovered in a cream fabric to reflect the light.

Upstairs, the kids’ bedrooms each feature two queen beds and minimal tenants of a typical child’s room. You won’t find character sheets once you pull back those coverlets. Instead, whimsical touches were limited to custom throw pillows, with Alder Rose’s space featuring flying pigs and Mick’s a safari print. This makes the spaces easily suited to adult guests without making anyone feel out of place.

“I didn’t design them to be kids’ rooms necessarily,” Mixson says. “And once you take the pillows away, they’re really not.”  

That doesn’t mean the spaces are sterile, though. Key to Mixson’s design throughout the home was the incorporation of natural textures that bring warmth and speak to the rustic outdoor surroundings that make the house such a special place for the Wampolds and their friends to visit.

Textured wallpapers in both of the kids’ rooms are just one example of this. In the living room, the sofas and chairs are all covered in natural fabrics with neutral tones, despite Kim’s initial wishes for white. In a place where the outdoors are meant to be brought in, the earthier tones just made sense, according to Mixson. However, to bring that brightness that Kim was looking for, Mixson opted for cream on the walls, as well as white drapes that let in plenty of natural light.

“I almost cried when I walked in the first time,” Kim says. “It’s the perfect combination of me and Mike, who likes all the wood and rustic touches. It’s a perfect balance.”

That balance of rustic and clean-lined is something that is maintained even amid holiday chaos. Real cedar garlands adorn everything from the mantel to the dining room chandelier to an outdoor mirror, while simple white Fig & Dove stockings hang in front of the fireplace. Elsewhere, oversized mercury glass ornaments that Kim picked up in St. Francisville are finished with tartan ribbons.

“It’s a little more natural and understated than what I do at their house in Baton Rouge,” Griffin says. “We want to bring in the country and stay true to that while still making it festive.”

The decorations aren’t doing it alone, though. According to Kim, the holiday spirit is brought into the space via the many guests that come in and out during the season. From cooking meals together to hunting and fishing to just gathering around the firepit for late-night chats, the joy that the house brings is only fulfilled by the ways in which it is used by family and friends.

“This is such a special place for us,” Kim says. “You really feel like you’re in heaven when you’re there. There’s nothing else like it.”

See more photos from this home in our gallery below: