front door

The Home of Bill and Ashley Mitchell

photos by: Steve Babin
Written By: Suzanne Conway

sitting room

The most wonderful time of year is upon us again! Time to gather with friends and family and make merry! Time to repeat special traditions and create new ones. Time to pull out our cherished collections, stir up some hot chocolate and mulled cider and decorate for Christmas. 

Lucky for us, we can gather inspiration this season from the lovely home of Ashley and Bill Mitchell. 

Their custom-built English Tudor lends itself perfectly to Christmas. The home possesses a magical, sort of storybook feel with its grand steeply pitched roof, gables, and multiple, impressive, prominently placed brick chimneys. You could just as easily be in the English countryside as Huntsville, Ala. Glorious windows of various sizes and styles are illuminated by twinkling lights inside. The vibe is warm and inviting. Evergreen trees accentuated with red berries in tasteful urns adorn either side of the spectacular front entrance. The grand, castle-like double front doors are inset, creating a spot to stop and admire not only the doors themselves, but the gorgeous wreaths and garland custom made from magnolia leaves. One of my favorite traditions growing up in Huntsville was gathering the magnolia and using it all over the house at Christmas, and one I missed from years living away. The older folks said planting a magnolia tree in your garden would bring you good luck and bringing the trimmings inside at Christmas would bring luck in the New Year. The Mitchells’ stately Tudor foretells good fortune indeed. 

Upon entering the home, an air of serenity welcomes you, beckoning you inside to discover exquisite craftsmanship of a quality rarely seen in newer construction. No detail has been overlooked in the building of this place. Scents of freshly cut pine and cedar waft through the air, giving the space an added layer of holiday festivity. The beautifully carved wood paneling and commanding carved staircase of the front hall are truly works of art. Fresh pine and magnolia are gracefully tied with simple silk ribbon around sconces on the handsome panels. The elegant simplicity of the decorations, coupled with the classic Tudor style, harkens back to Christmases past. Classic Christmas tunes gently resonate throughout. The

family dog lounges in the great room waiting for the family to come build him a fire in the incredible

 stacked stone cathedral height fireplace. A winter arrangement elevates simple sticks into art dripping with luxurious silk ribbons and pinecones to complete the vignette. 

The careful attention to architectural detail is remarkable – and the expert craftsmanship required to create it is truly impressive. This aesthetic provides a splendid backdrop to decorate for Christmas. Each year, the Mitchells gather everyone up and head out to find the perfect tree for their family room. This tradition is met with much anticipation and is a fun way for the entire family to kick off the Christmas season. This tree is traditionally their more casual Christmas tree, featuring the kids’ homemade ornaments as well as other special and significant ornaments. It’s a homey tree and lends a coziness to the area. Adding to the warmth are a nostalgic army of nutcrackers adorning the mantle where personalized needlepoint stockings will be filled on Christmas morning. A cozy fire will surely be crackling as the family gathers to celebrate. A grouping of merry carolers on a chest is livened up by many lovely fresh floral arrangements, nicely offsetting one of the many gorgeous pieces of contemporary art in the Mitchell’s collection. 

The living room, on the front of the house, is host to the Mitchell’s other Christmas tree. This one displays a collection of Christopher Radko ornaments. Memories are tied to each one and unpacking them every year is a wonderful remembrance of the many special occasions they signify. The hand blown Polish pieces sparkle as they catch the light, beautifully filtered through the uniquely Tudor windows. The view of this tree is just as breathtaking from the street as from the inside. It radiates a soft warmth on both sides of the glass panes. 

Massive hand-hewn beams anchor the enormous, curved ceiling in the kitchen, while three levels of windows illuminate the heart of the home. Fresh flowers mingle with natural greenery to

brighten the kitchen table under the sunlight, ready to usher in Christmas morning specialties and steaming hot drinks.

The home is situated on a quiet lot at The Ledges, with a beautiful back porch overlooking the manicured golf course. Breathtaking views abound. Sunlight streams in, making the home feel connected to the natural world. This commanding property is at once pristine yet inviting, bidding the spirit of Christmas to come in. 

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