Nestled among Colonial, Federal and Georgian-style homes on Peakland Place is the friendly home of Margaret and Buddy Daniel. It’s a cheery Craftsman bungalow with a fantastic front porch that makes you want to ascend the steps to sit a spell in a rocking chair to have a nice visit when the weather’s right.
Though built in 1925, the Daniels’ home feels refreshing and current, with large-paned windows and a glass-paned front door. Over the porch, an extra-large dormer with a row of three windows looks out over the broad lawn. The home’s painted brick exterior is a flattering shade of creamy white that reflects the sunset—sometimes appearing pinkish, other times taking on a yellowish hue. The pleated metal roof overhangs the porch and provides cooling shade in the summer and a protective hug in the winter.
On one corner of the front lawn during the holiday season, a blue spruce dazzles with hundreds of colorful lights. Buddy says the twinkle lights were a surprise gift from their oldest daughter and grandchildren, who stealthily installed them without their knowledge, much to their delight. This couple loves getting into the holiday spirit!
Buddy is retired, having spent his career of 35 years as an executive at Scott Insurance. Margaret is celebrating her 30th year as a teacher at James River Day School and says she still loves teaching as much today as she did when she first started. Margaret and Buddy have two grown daughters who live with their families in North Carolina, and they have a four-year-old yellow Lab named (wait for it) “Jingle Bells,” given to them as a Christmas gift from their youngest daughter.
The Daniels’ spectacular foyer Christmas tree can be seen through the front windows from the street. Margaret says it takes three full days to decorate it, a process they begin each year the day after Thanksgiving. Though Buddy says that Margaret is the one with the artistic eye and talent for decorating, Margaret insists she couldn’t do it without his help. “I get to do the fun and showy part, but Buddy makes the job easy,” she says. She explains that each year after the holiday season draws to a close, Buddy methodically takes down all the decorations and sorts them by size and type, carefully wrapping each item. He then stores everything away in the attic for another year. Margaret says Buddy’s thoughtful organization in the “putting away” makes the “putting up” easier for her the following year.
The tall, narrow tree is packed with colorful ornaments new and old, some handmade and others store-bought, each holding special meaning for the Daniels. Delicate glass ornaments hang from every branch, along with candy canes, silk balls, and popsicle-stick-and-construction-paper creations. Each one commands an honored spot among the boughs; no one thing reigns supreme over another. Margaret and Buddy say that every item is precious to them. It’s the sort of Christmas tree that makes you smile as you admire it. Margaret’s mother made the decorative felt tree skirt, each sequin and bauble lovingly stitched by hand.
To the right of the foyer is the music room—a formal room with inherited antique furnishings grouped into a conversation area, overlooking a handsome baby grand piano. Above the sofa is a pair of portraits of their daughters when they were young. A classic blue and white color palette unifies the room’s furnishings, accented here and there with pops of cranberry red.
On top of the piano is a handmade six-room dollhouse. It had belonged to Margaret’s oldest sister when she was a girl, lovingly made by their grandfather. No detail in the Daniels’ home goes unnoticed; even the dollhouse is decorated for Christmas! This dollhouse is just one of many sentimental handmade keepsakes on display in the Daniels’ home. Margaret says things like these are their family’s treasures. “They represent and hold our family’s memories, our stories. To us, they are priceless,” she says.
To the left of the foyer is the sitting room, with built-in cabinetry on both sides of the coal-burning fireplace, so characteristic of Craftsman-style homes. All of these features are original to the home, including the leaded stained-glass doors on the cabinets. From the mantel hangs a collection of charming vintage Christmas stockings. Margaret explains her grandmother, who died at the age of 99, had made them. Antique furnishings comfortably fill the room, upholstered in the same blue and white tones found in the music room. The pair of lovely blue and white toile sofas facing each other encourages natural conversation.
The formal sitting room opens onto the dining room through an opening that can be cordoned off by interior French doors. A sparkling crystal chandelier shines above the traditional antique dining table. Accents of silver and gold sparkle throughout the room—from the freshly polished tea service to the lighted trees on the sideboard and the ornaments on the Christmas tree in the corner. Margaret’s blue and white color scheme carries into this room as well, expressed through artfully arranged Chinese import porcelain accessories, dining chair seat cushions and white poinsettias.
Margaret explains that in the kitchen and the back of their house, their home underwent a significant transformation. “What is now our family’s great room was once the kitchen and a bedroom. When we renovated, we opened it all up, added on, added a deck and redid the kitchen and baths,” she says. Margaret and Buddy credit Frank Goff, now deceased, for being instrumental in their home’s renovations. Buddy says perhaps the most complex work involved the re-engineering of the home’s roofline after the addition. For that, the Daniels turned to the expertise of Charlie Parker, a longtime associate at Wiley and Wilson, a local architecture and engineering firm. Bootsy Kidd meticulously installed the new roof with distinctive crimping that gives the roof its unique character.
In one portion of the kitchen is a small dining set next to a sunny window, perfectly sized for Margaret and Buddy’s day-to-day meals. The kitchen retained its original footprint but was updated with fresh appliances, countertops and cabinetry. A former exterior window to their home became a pass-through to the new family room after Frank Goff’s renovation/addition. Jolly glass jars are the stuff of sugarplum visions—filled to the top with hard candies on the sill. Shiny glass balls dangle overhead from red and white polka dot ribbons.
The walls in the family room are painted in a pale “Carolina Blue” and are highlighted by crisp, white trim. The back wall seems almost entirely made of windows, outfitted with plantation shutters. Colorful stained-glass baubles shine in transoms above each window. The style of decor here hints at the Daniel family’s love of Coastal Carolina, a love that may have started back when Margaret and Buddy went to college at East Carolina University. An interesting and unusual Christmas tree made of crab pots stands in one corner of the room, further indicating the Daniels’ love of coastal living. A pair of slipper chairs next to the fireplace introduces a bolder shade of cobalt blue to the room.
Throughout this happy space, the Daniels’ love for family and tradition is made evident through the joyful decor in the family room. Holiday cards are on display to be enjoyed time and again. Framed photos cover built-in shelves and tabletops. Margaret made the beaded trees on the mantel from a collection of antique beads and balls, showing that she has perhaps inherited some of her ancestors’ artistic skill for handicraft. Though everything in the family room is lovely and carefully arranged, the room is welcoming and hospitable—inviting you to pick things up for closer inspection and enjoyment.
A central hallway joins the rooms in the front of the house to the great room in the back. At Christmastime, however, due to the location of the foyer tree, the Daniels reroute foot traffic and travel from the front of the house to back by way of the dining room. The hallway becomes a quiet out-of-the-way space to display one of their family’s favorite Christmas treasures on a table near the foot of the stairs— a pewter nativity set. Margaret and Buddy enjoy seeing the nativity as they begin and end each day during the holiday season. During the holidays, each stairway tread displays a collection of nutcrackers.
There is a small guest room and bath on the main level of the home, and upstairs are three more bedrooms and a bath. Today, the guest room is brimming with beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts, waiting to be delivered. The room is furnished with a pair of antique post beds and a wooden vanity table and étagère. A spring rocking horse stands guard over the presents. Recently watered poinsettias are in the guest bath’s bathtub, waiting patiently to be displayed throughout the home. The wallpaper in the guest bathroom features sprays of lily of the valley on a soothing pale-blue background.
Downstairs on the lower level of the home is Buddy’s domain—his “men’s den.” Buddy is a lifelong outdoorsman and enjoys hiking, hunting and offshore fishing. His many hunting and fishing trophies plus a host of other sentimental curiosities are on display in this basement getaway. Of particular note is a Christmas tree decorated with vintage bubble lights that had belonged to his mother. Allan Howerton of Custom Crafters Construction helped Buddy remodel the space, transforming it from a basic, unfinished cinder-block basement to a comfortable gentleman’s den. The concrete floors are polished to a shine. The walls and ceiling have been cleaned and painted. The open ceiling exposes the home’s supporting joists and beams. The space retains the rustic feel of an unfinished basement but is now tidy, fresh and comfortable.
Cheerful, happy, friendly. Time and again, nice words like these are used to describe the Daniels’ home—a great compliment to the couple that lives there. Margaret and Buddy’s warm and inviting home is the place their children and grandchildren love calling “home” for the holidays (and any time of year, for that matter).