When you walk into Kim Bell’s Indian Hills home at Christmastime, you can’t help but get into the holiday spirit. Everywhere you look has a touch of the holiday.
Kim and her husband, Dave, moved into the home 31 years ago, and about five years ago completed a major renovation. They knocked down walls to create a more open concept between the kitchen, dining and front and back living rooms. A wall with a two-way fireplace divides the living rooms.
The kitchen has an abundance of counter space that Kim has decorated with a vintage Christmas theme. About six years ago, she purchased a vintage Christmas plate out of a catalog because it reminded her of her great aunt. From there, she purchased other vintage looking decorations to go with the plate.
Kim’s collection of Christmas decorations has grown slowly over the years. She purchased items from Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Dollar Tree, Walmart — anywhere she sees something she likes.
She also loves the Christmas store in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“I go in there and get lost,” she said.
Also on her kitchen counter is a Christmas decoration she and Dave purchased on their honeymoon.
“Our song to each other is ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ Kim said. “There was a Christmas ornament with that on it.”
In one corner of the kitchen is a short tree decorated with snowmen ornaments that her 17-month-old grandson Oliver “Boo” Rigsby loves to look at and play with. Pictures of Oliver and Kim and Dave’s daughter and son-in-law, Marisa and Justin Rigsby, are framed and tucked among other Christmas decorations on the countertop and shelves.
More framed family photos from Christmas pasts adorn surfaces in the back living room, including a framed photo of Marisa’s first Christmas. Behind it sits a framed letter to Santa she wrote when she was a child, and behind that sits a framed photo of Oliver on his first Christmas with “believe” written on it.
“Special things happen to those who wait,” she said about the picture of Oliver.
Also on a table in the back living room sits one of her favorite Christmas decoration collections — Santas painted on driftwood by Paducah artist Parettia Morris.
“I found her at the Flyer Band Bazaar,” Kim said. “I would go back every year just for her.”
Kim has been collecting her work for 12 years and has 54 pieces total.
Kim said Paraettia’s son, Mark Morris, of Frankfort, helps her cut the driftwood to the size she wants it and then she paints it. Mark is the owner of Morris Remodeling in Frankfort. Parettia is now 91, but Kim said she still paints, but just for her followers. She also handpaints Christmas cards. Kim has a few of those framed and sitting on a table as well.
“I’m supporting an artist and supporting local,” she said.
On an old writing desk in the front living room, which is everyone’s favorite part of the house, sits a collection of Spode vintage porcelain from the 1890s painted with Christmas trees.
“My very first piece was the candy dish I got the first year we were married,” Kim said. Since then, she has grown the collection with pieces that give her the “warm and fuzzy feelings,” she said.
In a corner in front of a large case, is Kim’s main Christmas tree decorated in the colors gold, sage green and red. Ben Lee from Benjamin’s Flowers and Gifts helps Kim every year with her tree and bows.
The tree is the easiest decoration for Kim to set up because she just pulls it out of a hall closet.
“My tree comes out of the closet dressed,” Kim said. After Marisa grew up and moved out of the house, Kim was able to free up space in the closet and decided she would put the tree in there instead of dismantling it every year.
“My favorite part is the tree in the living room,” Dave said.
Marisa also agreed.
“The tree in the living room is always my favorite,” Marisa said. “She changes it every couple of years.”
On a coffee table sits another one of Kim’s favorite collections, her Willow Tree Nativity.
“The wise men were a gift from a client,” she said. “I was so excited to get that and over the years I’ve added to it.”
She now has 25 pieces.
“I like the peacefulness of it,” she said. “I’ll sit in there with the tree lit at night and I count my blessings. And think about how blessed I am to have my sweet little family and little Oliver.”
Kim said her love of decorating comes from her years of working as a wedding planner. “A lot of them have themes and colors,” she said.
It takes Kim about six and a half hours to put up all of her Christmas decorations. She typically starts decorating Thanksgiving weekend. Sometimes she starts the weekend before. It takes her four hours to put everything away.
“A lot of people look at this and think it’s a lot of work,” she said, “but this is like therapy for me. It warms my heart to do it.”