BAXTER -- Move over, Martha Stewart.
Simmering cloves in an aromatic kitchen potpourri create a first impression of mouth-watering delights upon entering Michelle and Randy Christopherson's home in Baxter.
White holiday lights warm the light-colored maple wood floors, moldings and spindle stairway. A gray and white cat casually naps atop the railing impervious to the stairway drop to the lower level. Vibrant reds, whites and blues standout in the home's Americana theme and decor.
"I was born in the wrong century," Michelle said.
A family cat watched afternoon activities from a master bedroom window seat in Michelle and Randy Christopherson's home in Baxter. A window wreath and bedroom Christmas tree create a holiday atmosphere. (Dispatch Photos by Renee Richardson)
Everywhere there are Early American dolls, colorful quilts, latch-hook rugs, papier-mch boxes and miniature log homes -- all hand created in the Baxter home that borders the city's park.
A faux fireplace mimics the sound and color of real burning logs. The handcrafted fireplace and mantle were built in sections for ease of frequent furniture rearranging.
Simmering cloves create the sensation of scent.
Here's how to do it.
Put two tablespoons of cloves from the grocery store's spice aisle into a small, electric potpourri crock filled with water. Add a cinnamon stick and let simmer all day. Add water as needed.
The aroma will fill the house all day and helps create a cozy atmosphere that may remind you of grandmother's house, cookies and holidays.
"I'm a Martha Steward wannabe," Michelle joked on a recent tour of her home.
Michelle's skills in the sewing room are depicted on the late fall 2001 cover of "The Country House" catalog, which displays a window quilt.
A log home sits on the master bedroom's bedstand. Details create a replica of early Americana with rough-hewn logs in miniature.
The couple also creates little log homes, depicting early American life. The log houses are featured in displays throughout the home.
Michelle said she was involved in crafts for years and when her husband found his work as a builder was taking its toll on his physical well-being, they moved into furniture building on a small scale. The little houses are marketed to wholesalers and later sold in stores.
"One lady ordered log cabins and she put them in her window boxes in Pennsylvania," Michelle said.
Just recently they moved into retail sales and use their Internet Web site. One customer inquired about ordering a replica of a Crosslake home.
Colorful holiday berries decorate the dining room table. The room is made festive with a handmade quilt and doll and a holiday tree adorned with handmade cookie-cutter decorations. Papier-mch boxes stack one on the other near the quilt.
Recently about 450 people went through the Christophersons' home as it was transformed into a boutique for a 14-hour sale. The Christophersons set up vignette displays of the houses.
For the Christophersons, Christmas is a favorite time of year.
Christmas trees in nearly every room are adorned with handmade decorations.
After seeing cotton batting used to make tree ornaments like fluffy snowballs on HGTV, Michelle whipped up 35 of them in one night.
A log home is displayed on a table top in the living room in a simple vignette with holiday greenery and lights.
She used a spray to color the balls off-white in keeping with the early American setting where a pure white was a rarity. Then she actually redecorated the family room tree with fluffy ornaments.
"I just love crafting," Michelle said.
A child's bedroom tree is decorated in red, white and blue and fits well in a room that has stars in wallpaper border and American flags.
The flags, both in fabric and in artistic renderings, are displayed throughout the home and on the front porch. It is a look that sets the foundation for the early American decor.
The Christophersons designed their home and built it. But Michelle may be more interested in the stories that little decorating touches can create with furnishings.
A downstairs room features an example with a game table complete with checkerboard on top. Overly large checker pieces appear to be tumbling out of their container in preparation for a game. The wooden chairs on either side are tipped out slightly as though the players just took a momentary break in a regular game.
That attention to detail is one of Michelle's interests in decorating because she said: "Everything has a story."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.