This 1800s Home Has Wall-to-Wall Christmas Cheer

There's plenty of ideas to steal from this Christmas-y house in Illinois, and HGTV Magazine is taking you on a festive tour!

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December 14, 2018

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

Photo By: Lisa Romerein

The House

Christmas has an extra-special feeling in an old house. “Every year when we decorate our Christmas tree, I think about how many families have celebrated in our home—there’s so much history!” says Jess Milburn. Her family bought their Oak Park, IL, 1893 Foursquare in 2015. Back then the 3,000-square-foot house had a bland peach-color exterior, a cramped layout, and rooms blanketed in carpet (including the kitchen). But Jess and husband James, who does commercial demolition for a living, were ready to work through all that in the spirit of creating a forever home.

They repainted the outside classic blue (Vermont Slate by Benjamin Moore), moved walls, refinished floors, and refurbished original molding, windows, and tile. Jess has filled it with cozy pieces, and she adds dashes of colorful holiday decor once Thanksgiving leftovers hit the fridge. “Nobody ever said Christmas has to stay downstairs,” she says. “We like to spread the joy around everywhere.”

The Family

Jess and James with Margot, 2; Libby, 5; and Bailey, 6. They recently welcomed baby Dylan to the family.

Living Room

When the family moved in, the fireplace tile was painted white with dried drips everywhere. It took two days of stripping to unwrap the gift beneath: a deep green surround that’s practically made for hanging colorful stockings. The leather sofa from West Elm is a family favorite.

“It’s where James and I crash after our Christmas morning workout—running around picking up crumpled wrapping paper!” says Jess. The sparkly tree hides a surprise: a glass pickle ornament for the kids to find, a quirky tradition. The sputnik-style light fixture from Shades of Light looks festive all year long. The gray leather swivel chair is also from West Elm.

Steal This Living Room Look


The 8-foot island, topped with cream-color quartzite, comes in handy in December. “We have a cookie exchange at the girls’ school, and we do all our mixing and decorating here,” says Jess.

The blue on the cabinets and the island (Newburyport Blue by Benjamin Moore) is almost the same as the house’s exterior: “I couldn’t get enough of it,” says Jess. Brass accents—door hardware from Signature Hardware and barstools from—play up the richness of the color.

For classic-cool touches that nod to the home’s age, there’s a marble tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern, oil-rubbed-bronze globe pendants from above the island, and lattice-print wallpaper from Anthropologie on the back of the built-in cabinet.

Steal This Kitchen Look

Breakfast Nook

It’s holiday central this time of year: The family gathers around the whitewashed wood table from One Kings Lane to make gingerbread houses and down Mickey Mouse–shaped pancakes on Christmas morning. For max versatility, Jess bypassed built-ins and created L-shaped seating with upholstered benches from West Elm, adding bentwood chairs from Crate & Barrel. The brass-finish pendant is from Hortons Home Lighting.

Steal This Breakfast Nook Look

Dining Room

“I wanted this room to have a dressed-up style so eating in here always feels like a special occasion, even if it’s just pizza,” says Jess. She put in green velvet dining chairs from Anthropologie, gray wingback hostess chairs from Art Van, and a wood-bead chandelier from The dining table, also from Art Van, has a hammered-metal top protected by a sheet of glass. Star-shaped paper lanterns in shades of blue look extra festive against the leaded glass windows. “We’re lucky to have so many pretty features like these that are original to the house,” says Jess.

Steal This Dining Room Look

Bailey and Libby’s Bedroom

All is calm, all is…yep. Jess chose bright bloom-filled wallpaper from the Etsy shop Wall Garnish Co. for one wall, minty green paint (Quartz Stone by Benjamin Moore) for the rest, and a large beaded chandelier from Target. The curved rails on the beds (from Walmart) are prime spots to hang pom-pom garlands. The pink rug beneath from Crate & Barrel sets the stage for Bailey and Libby’s dress-up sessions. Toss in plenty of pillows and soft teal throws and it’s no wonder this is the family’s favorite place to pile onto the beds and read The Night Before Christmas.

Steal This Bedroom Look

Master Bedroom

Jess outfitted the upholstered bed from Brayden Studio with birch tree bedding from the Etsy shop Roostery and an extra-snuggly throw from Serena & Lily. An accent wall painted robin’s-egg blue showcases gilded wreaths from Etsy shop Wreathly Florals; the diamond-pattern rug from plays off the soothing color.

Steal This Bedroom Look