For Matt Gourley and Amanda Lund, two Southern California actors, writers and podcasters, their 1947 San Rafael Hills home, which Amanda describes as a Midcentury Modern Craftsman hybrid, is an extension of their creativity. Originally drawn to the house’s cottage-like charm, expansive backyard and location on a leafy, tree-lined street, they’ve spent the past two years making the residence their own through hands-on renovations and styling.
The holidays are another time for the two to unleash their creative juices and their home, which features Christmas-friendly hues like hunter-green year round, becomes an elegant embodiment of the season under their touch. Matt says, “The minute Thanksgiving ends, Amanda and I get into decorating—not out of duty or anything, but out of the feeling that the year is wrapping up, work is winding down and we feel like we can be in our natural state, which is hibernation!”
When Matt and Amanda moved into the home, the dining room was closed off with two walls. “We opened it up to the kitchen and living area,” Amanda says. “It really let the sun into the rest of the house.” Matt installed an oak window seat and storage bench underneath the bay window, and the couple found a Prohibition-era cabinet from Sunbeam Vintage to center behind the dining room table. “It’s basically a speakeasy bar cabinet,” Matt says. They use it to display their liquor and barware, allowing the bottles and glasses to double as décor.
“It’s been a dream of mine to have an old English section of the house,” he says. He installed stunning alder panels, molding and arches—but perhaps the most eye-catching elements in this space are the leather-tufted door and plaid wallpaper.
When it comes to decorating their dining room for Christmas, the couple goes for a restrained, functional approach. As Amanda says, “We keep it tame because we eat here and who wants a pine needle in their chicken?” Amanda loves poinsettias (in fact, Matt describes her as a ‘foster mom’ for poinsettias during Christmastime, as she is always bringing them home). A low tabletop centerpiece featuring the yuletide flower is unobtrusive yet lends holiday cheer.
As for the exterior, a few red poinsettias usually do the trick, but the couple say that the home itself does most of the work! “We do lights on the house and tree—but our house is already doing 50% of the job by being a giant Christmas tree-green-colored
structure,” Matt says. “Now that I think of it, the place really is tailor-made for my favorite time of year.”
Lounging in Style
The lounge is the heartbeat of the home, as it bookends the couple’s day. In the mornings, they have their coffee in the cozy space and read the newspaper, while in the evenings, they have drinks and play cards there. The lounge is particularly meaningful to Matt. “It’s been a dream of mine to have an old English section of the house,” he says. He installed stunning alder panels, molding and arches—but perhaps the most eye-catching elements in this space are the leather-tufted door and the plaid wallpaper. The door, which was custom made by local company Lanzetti Upholstery, was inspired by James Bond’s boss M in the 007 movies, and the wallpaper was printed by Astek Inc. “We wanted details no other house would have,” Amanda says. “We jokingly call the wallpaper the Gourley-Lund tartan.”
“Now that I think of it, the place really is tailor-made for my favorite time of year.”
The room’s woodsy plaid and warm tones give it a winter lodge feel. As Matt says, “I never thought about how much it would work for Christmas. The tree goes in the corner because the wallpaper is basically screaming for it.” The couple decorated their tree with a variety of quirky, personal decorations, from wooden ornaments with great scientists on them to a ballerina that reminds Matt of Amanda to a framed picture of their cat, Margaux.
For the master bedroom, the couple sought, in Amanda’s words, a “peaceful and serene” retreat. Matt restored and repainted the windows and replaced the trims, baseboards and door moldings with stained mahogany, and highlighted the trim with Farrow & Ball Black Blue paint. A Cole and Sons wallpaper via Anthropologie featuring spindly birch trees completes the room, its illustrative style giving the space a whimsical feel. “We both love the woods,” Matt says. “So voila!” A fluffy, cat-friendly rug ties in with the faux-fur throw pillows and a plaid blanket, evoking a sense of wintertime camping. Since the room reflects the season so well—in fact, Matt says, “without realizing it, we created a year-round Christmas home”—hardly any holiday décor is needed. But a mini Christmas tree on the window seat overlooking the backyard gives the bedroom the fresh smell of pine.
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