December 2012

Metro Detroit

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A Spirited Season

by Megan Swoyer Garbinski Photos by John Sobczak

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Anne Reeves can’t really put her finger on why Scandinavian interior design elements call to her. She doesn’t have Scandinavian roots, nor has she even traveled to any of the region’s countries.

And yet, in her Troy home, she has surrounded herself with natural fabrics, light-hued curtains, pretty mirrors, white and cream china, white-painted wood, charming table lamps, oval-back chairs, plate racks, shell-pink kitchen

cabinetry, and a refreshingly pale color palette, all evoking a Scandinavian feel.

“I like the quiet beauty of Scandinavian design because of its calming effect,” says Anne. “I have always admired the paintings of Swedish artist Carl Larrson and I when I started my inspiration palette for our house, I realized that I wanted to use the colors in his paintings. The effect of blue, shell- pink, sand and white is definitely Scandinavian.”

When the holidays arrive, Anne eschews the typically bright colors and green-and-red palette of the season (except in the kitchen on her “Vintage Cooking Tree”) and uses instead, unusual combinations and peaceful soft colors. “I’ve always loved the Scandinavian beach house look,” says Reeves, who

Homeowner Anne Reeves, opposite page, chooses from this selection of collectibles when it’s time to decorate her family tree, shown on the opposite page. This tree is dedicated to family heritage and items reminiscent of home. Anne prefers a soft, light-hued palette for her ornaments to complement the room’s surroundings.

In the foyer, Anne showcases her fresh-as-snow marshmallow city.

has lived in her current home with her husband, Dan, for the past 15 years. She is the author of “Moments of Delight,” “Delight in the City of Light,” and, just published this past November, “Finding Delight — Ideas and Inspiration to Enhance Everyday Life.” All brim with great photography,

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creative ideas and, well, moments of delight. (Check out for more information on the book, also available on Amazon, and how to order some of Reeves’ artistic creations – she makes totes out of her photography- turned-magazine-type-covers, cigar-box handbags and more, which are available at

“In my work and in my home, I try to underline what I love,” notes the artistic, crafty-in-a-Martha-Stewart-sort-of-way homeowner. And that’s even more apparent during the holiday season.

Every year, Anne bakes gingerbread men to hang on her traditional Fraser Fir Christmas tree, one of six trees that graces the couple’s soft-hued home. This doyenne of decorative creativity even trims a tiny tree for her laundry room, complete with miniature detergent container ornaments.

Left: A little tree on a tea cart in the dining room shines with blown-glass ornaments, while above, a nativity scene makes its annual appearance.

A main evergreen tree is loaded with German blown-glass ornaments shaped like fruits, nuts, angels and more. Other tannenbaum themes are based on candy and 1940s kitchen implements (think whisks, rolling pins and potato mashers).

A wrought-iron tree for the dining room provides what Anne says is a “sleek touch with no lights on it,” while a family tree charms visitors with handmade vintage photograph decorations.

“It gets wild around here at Christmas, But I try to decorate with things that are soft and subtle, for the most part,” Anne says, alluding to accents such as the soothing mint-colored wreathes that

hang from pretty blue ribbons against the kitchen windows and her “marshmallow city” that adorns a table in the foyer.

Embracing the holidays in all their glory is a huge undertaking for the busy Anne but well worth it, she says. Every year she thinks of new things to make. During the photo shoot for this story, in fact, Anne was contemplating scalloped oval portrait ornaments for her family tree. “I’m thinking of using hole punches in the scallop so it looks like lace.”


Anne’s grandmother first taught her how to make homemade sugar cookies for the holidays some 30 years ago. Every

year after that, Anne and her two cousins would spend a day in “Nama’s” kitchen, turning out lovely holiday treats with treasured cookie cutters. Some of the shapes—including two dogs and a blue bird of happiness—were designed and hand forged by her great-grandfather in the 1800s.

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From homemade brandies to theme trees aplenty, from sweet treats to gathering for carols around the piano (Dan is quite the pianist), the Reeves’ welcoming ways are as bountiful as a stuffed holiday stocking. “I think of my house as a giant dollhouse — there’s always something to look at, little vignettes,” Anne says. “So it’s fun to have people over for all different reasons, from book clubs to tea. People breathe a little easier when they’re here in the middle of this spirit.”

Since then, Anne has amassed a collection of more than 150 cookie cutters. Each year, she and Dan haul them out for a special afternoon

of baking at their home, often with Anne’s nieces and nephews, who’ve been baking annually at the Reeves home since they were old enough to

roll out dough. The kids (now teens) know as sure as sugar is sweet that they will someday pass on their holiday baking tradition to their own children.

Besides baking, guests to Anne’s home cherish all kinds of traditions, including taking time for an exquisite family tea. Anne has a small, dedicated tea table in the dining room that’s always stocked

with holiday-themed teas by Celestial Seasonings. With the tea, she serves homemade bourbon balls, shortbread, toffee and sugar cookies. Cousins, aunts, moms and others, also like to partake in a family ginger-pear-brandy toast, especially because what they sip was lovingly made by, you guessed it, Anne!

“I grow the pear in a bottle that’s wired to a pear tree,” she explains. “I let the pear grow all summer (at a family vacation home in Leland). Then, when it’s time, I clip it from the tree, keeping the pear in the bottle.” She then washes the pear and bottle and adds vodka, sugar, pear juice and fresh ginger. The mixture matures for about six months to a year. “It becomes brandy over time,” she notes. “Do be sure to strain the fresh ginger out before pouring.”

Every July, she also makes Michigan cherry Bounce, “a nice bourbon with a Cherry flavor.” She uses dark cherries (pitted), sugar and then pours bourbon over the sweet, fruity combination. “By Christmas it’s ready to serve.”

Anne’s gift-wrap features natural colors and unusual themes, such as music (husband Dan is quite the pianist). Note the musical theme on an ornament, too. The living room tree displays a treasure trove of delights, including Anne’s homemade gingerbread men.

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