With Thanksgiving over and most of the leftovers eaten, it's officially Christmastime. But if you find yourself in need of some decoration inspiration when it comes to decking the halls this year, one downtown home is sure to spark some yuletide imagination.
The Barker home, a 100-year-old house on 19th Street, is one of three featured in this year's Chez Noel tour, a fundraiser for the Assistance League happening on Dec. 1 and 2. Styled with an eye for the simple and classic, the home is full of Pinterest-worthy decor.
"I really want to keep it very simple," Barker said. "I want the decorations to look like they belong in the house and not just tossed out of the box."
The two-day event includes tours of local homes (two in downtown and a third in the Seven Oaks area) and shopping at a secondhand boutique. It regularly raises around $40,000, which the Assistance League uses to buy new school clothes for children in need, helping about 3,500 kids each year, said Sandy Spray, the organization's public relations chair. But to make it all happen, the tour needs homes.
"The people like Jenny make it successful," Spray said. "They open their homes to maybe 1,000 people in two days. Without the homes, we have nothing. We love our homeowners."
Barker lives in the home with her husband, Sean (who works at Clifford & Bradford Insurance Agency), and their three kids, Greyson, Mariella and Brooks (7, 5 and 3, respectively). The family moved into the house in December 2014, the first family to live there who wasn't related in some way to the original owners.
Barker, who owns the Westchester neighborhood magazine, has kept a record of the house's history. Completed in 1917 by Orville Lee Clark, the house first belonged to Timothy and Anna Sullivan and their son, Tim. When his parents died, the younger Tim stayed in the home with caretakers before eventually marrying Reinette Poteete, who would go on living there with her sister, Ruth Johnson, after Tim's death.
When the sisters decided to move, they met the Barkers and agreed to to sell them the house before it was even listed. God had sent the young family to them, Reinette and Ruth believed.
"I have loved this house since I was a little girl," Barker said, adding that she used to tell her mother she'd buy it one day. "I pinch myself because I can't believe I get to live here."
The picturesque Craftsman house includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a detached garage/office and a large wrap-around porch, part of it screened in for enjoyment in any weather.
"When we bought the house — it's one that's so unique in Bakersfield — we wanted to share it," Barker said of why she agreed to do Chez Noel. "We want to share its history."
For Chez Noel, visitors to the Barker home will be greeted with fresh wreaths and garland by Cricklewood Secret Garden draped around the outside of the house. Inside, each room will transform into a holiday habitation, inspired in part by Pinterest and the rustic aesthetic seen from Joanna Gaines on HGTV's "Fixer Upper."
The front room, which guests can sneak a glimpse of from the street through its large bay window, will be decorated in light colors and rustic charm. A Nativity scene sits on a table, though Barker said the baby Jesus might be put away until Christmas, lest Monsignor Craig Harrison snatch it, as he has joked to St. Francis parishioners like the Barkers.
White knit stockings are hung on the mantel, where small ceramic houses are also set up. A chalkboard sign, a constant in the Barker home, has a seasonal message written on it. Wreaths from the "Fixer Upper" couple's Hearth & Hand line at Target hang on the walls.
"I love the mantel," Barker said. "The mantel makes me happy."
A real Christmas tree, which Barkers plans to have flocked, will be added before the tours, and there will be more Christmas trees throughout the home, including one in the master bedroom, one in Mariella's room and another in the boys' shared room (the last room an addition to the house's original construction).
A Santa theme has guided Barker as she decorates the master bedroom. A sign that reads "And to all a good night," purchased from Etsy online, inspired the theme. Barker painted her own sign with the names of Santa's reindeer and put up a Christmas tree next to the bedroom's fireplace, where the children's stockings are hung. On the bed, dressed for the season in a red comforter, is a tray with milk and cookies for Santa. The milk glass and plate were found at Babies R Us.
"We're Catholic so Christmas is a religious thing, but we're also big on Santa," Barker said. "For me, Santa is the magic of Christmas."
The children's rooms will have a few holiday touches that match the color and design theme already there. For Mariella, that means pink and pretty, and for Greyson and Brooks rugged red plaid.
"I'll let them all do their own tree in their room," Barker said. "They love decorating with me."
Through the home's many windows, guests will see the children's playhouse, a mini replica of the 1917 Craftsman house. It too will be decorated on the outside for the season.
In the dining room is another sign Barker painted, reading "We wish you a merry Christmas." Red and white notes continue throughout the room. A pair of old skis against the wall add a wintery touch for now, and as Christmas cards come pouring in from friends and family, Barker will tape them to the skis until she runs out of room.
While Barker said she's still adding up her decor expenses, she takes comfort in knowing that many of the items were DIY projects or Target dollar section finds. Still, she's promised her husband she won't buy any new Christmas decorations next year, and she'll continue to use everything she bought this year.
That they can recreate some of Barker's looks without spending too much might be good news for the people who will come to her house on the Chez Noel tour. The guests, many of whom return annually, get inspiration from visiting the houses and look forward to it each year.
"They ask 'When can I buy tickets?' in July!" Spray said of eager Chez Noel attendees. "It's a tradition, for mothers and daughters or sisters."