Cool Yule

Drawing inspiration from her world travels and eclectic tastes, Ballard Designs’ creative director Jill Sharp Brinson puts an unexpected twist on Christmas in her Peachtree Heights cottage with Suzanne Kasler’s latest holiday collection.

To step through the door of Jill Sharp Brinson’s 1930s cottage is to be instantly swept up in her consuming passions. Guests are greeted with an architectural mix of salvaged woods and steel, embroidered textile as art above the mantel, and decor with references as far-reaching as Marrakech.

“I treat my home like a great outfit,” says the interior designer and stylist of the farmhouse-loft cottage she shares with her photographer husband, Rob, in Atlanta’s Peachtree Heights neighborhood, along with their three dogs. “Sometimes it feels like jeans and a t-shirt, other times, cool heels and an amazing jacket.”

This perpetual styling and personalization of spaces is the designer’s daily pursuit as creative director for Atlanta-based home furnishing company Ballard Designs. “We try to give people a method to build a home that’s personal by moving things around, buying beautiful pieces, then mixing them with pieces from your travels or your amazing eclectic aunt,” she says.

With a kick of her Tory-clad heel, the multi-hyphenated Brinson boots the notion of a conventional Christmas up into the air, creating an unexpected space where you simply want to sit back and soak in the season. To begin, she enlisted the help of friend Suzanne Kasler, incorporating the Atlanta-based interior design star’s latest holiday collection for Ballard Designs into her decor. The line includes chic staples, from glass ornaments and glitter baubles to faux trees and linen tree skirts with velvet trim.

Inside, Brinson maximizes every inch of her European-style cottage’s lofty 20-foot ceilings and open floor plan by installing unique focal points at each turn. A floating branch suspended above the dining table adds unexpected dazzle with hanging glass and glittering ornaments. “Every year I hang things on it that I love, like a Jonathan Adler horse and a funny little bird,” she says.

Brinson’s fresh take on a classic holiday statement fulfills an ethos that she and Kasler share: that “a room should be collected, not decorated,” she says. In the kitchen, Brinson strung Kasler’s sparkling sunburst mirrors across the enlarged casement windows that overlook a Provence-inspired garden. “They look like jewelry,” says Brinson. “They make a traditional space look fun and an energetic space look grounded.” Throughout the house, natural-looking greenery and Frasier fur trees from Kasler’s collection usher in a warm, woodsy feeling while playing up the house’s rustic character.

When faced with convention, Brinson’s imagination shifts into cutting-edge. For the Christmas tree, she pays an artful homage to her favorite French artists Christo and Jean-Claude by wrapping the 9-foot tree with more than eight yards of grey matte silk fabric. “It’s modern, it’s pretty, it’s a little bit ‘wow,’ and that’s how I want to live,” she exclaims. Indeed, the storybook cottage radiates the warmth of Brinson’s lively spirit, from the fresh cedar letters spelling out “joy” that herald the season to the glamorous sea of votives inside and out.

The Suzanne Kasler holiday collection is available through Ballard Designs,