The great room is filled with men and women festively dressed in Christmas attire while young children scamper through the flock, eagerly awaiting the moment when presents will be distributed. Brunch is about to be served. It could be same story at any house, anywhere in the South come Christmastime. But at this house in Providence subdivision off Highland Road, the voices ring to the whitewashed rafters.
“We are a little on the theatrical side,” admits homeowner Cleme Dantin. “We all love to sing.”
Cleme and her husband Chris welcome their two sons and daughters-in-law over each year—plus the grandchildren—and family members play the guitar, piano and violin while the whole group sings along to favorite Christmas carols and hymns. It’s a tradition that puts everyone in the spirit of the season. “Plus, my husband really has a beautiful voice.”
If Chris Dantin has a beautiful voice, it is only matched by Cleme’s beautiful sense of style. One glance around the interiors of this house tucked away at the end of the lane, and it’s apparent that the creative genes in this family aren’t limited to music. It’s a true gift, indeed. The open-concept house with pale walls and brightly hued elements warmly embrace all who enter.
For the Dantins, the house was a fresh start and a clean slate. A number of years ago, the couple decided to scale down from a larger home elsewhere, so they turned to son Brian, who was one of the developers of the neighborhood. Architect Mike Sullivan drew the plans and Brian served as builder. Cleme used the opportunity to rid herself of her former, heavier furnishings and instead lightened up and brightened up.
“This whole house came about because of the chandeliers,” says Cleme, motioning toward the ceilings. “I designed everything around them.”
Cleme found a light fixture made of turquoise in the book The Paris Apartment by Claudia Strasser, and she fell in love. She commissioned a smaller one to be made and positioned it at the breakfast nook overlooking the courtyard and pool. Cleme then used punches of turquoise throughout the home’s interiors to continue the theme. She even decorates for the holidays using the blue hue.
“One year, I decorated everything in silver and turquoise,” says Cleme. “But one of my grandsons said that I needed to use red because it was Christmas, so now I incorporate red and turquoise all season long. It’s unexpected.”
Also unexpected are the overscale light fixtures used elsewhere throughout the house, including those in the master bath and the master sitting area and topping the island in the kitchen. If Cleme loved a chandelier, she bought it and made it work in the home. With soaring ceilings and graciously sized rooms, bigger often worked better. The chandeliers also created a statement without the need for a lot of excess furniture.
“My generation really loved dark colors and heavy furniture,” says Cleme. “It was refreshing for me to do something simpler for a change.”
Instead, she chose more streamlined pieces throughout the house and incorporated artwork—much of it her own—any chance she could. She looked to her many beach trips for inspiration on color and aesthetics. And she created a space as inviting and family friendly as it could be. Makes even the sourest of Scrooges want to break out in song.
“I pretty much left most of my things behind, and it’s been a good change,” says Cleme, happy to again host her loved ones this year. “Starting fresh is really a lesson in letting go. It’s freeing.”
See more photos from this home in our gallery below: