A Winter Farmhouse

Tracye Betzler's home is ready for the holidays

Tracy Betzler never wanted to build a home--she wanted to find one. But lacking a hundred-year-old farmhouse, she decided to create the home of her dreams. 

"I completely designed it--everything was me, which was very cool. And I was grateful to find a builder that let me use any source that I wanted. I worked with Don Riead from Riead Home Construction," says Betzler. 

Designing a home is not a massive stretch for Betzler. Known for her eye for textures and colors, she is the owner of Thorny Creek Market in Smithville. The shop stocks unique decor pieces and boutique clothing for women and children, loose leaf tea, and a collection of paints that harken back to Betzler's start in furniture refinishing. 

Luckily for her, she's not the only person in her circle with an eye for design. Long time friend and collaborator Cara Massie of Cara Massie Design was thrilled to help her friend make her new home as festive as possible, all while creating a look that could quickly transform after December 25. 

Together, the two design professionals went wild. Both women are known for mixing elements to create highly personalized design schemes. With plenty of areas to decorate, including a wide veranda with comfy seating areas, the pair were able to stretch their legs. We picked up some design tricks from both to share with you. 

Make it personal

Designer trees are beautiful, but Betzler and Massie both advocate for incorporating personal touches to ground your design., 

"In my office area where I have a tree, I took inspiration for the color scheme from the wall hanging. It's my grandparents' original marriage license. It's beautiful and means so much to me," says Betzler. 

Working from that palette of creams and pinks, she used a flocked tree with a Victorian feeling, complete with lace and taffeta ribbon. 

Massie agrees. When creating tablescapes, she loves incorporating heirloom china as a way to honor those that have passed. Layering vintage dishes with new pieces offers a way to bring old and new together to create a cohesive palette. 
Massie also advocates for multiple trees. 

"I think it's much easier for people to have a sentimental tree where they can hang their children's ornaments and more personal decorations. That allows you to build more on color or texture in your designer tree," she says. 

Look beyond the holidays

For some, going to such lengths to decorate for a single holiday season may seem exhausting, but Massie says that it shouldn't be. 

"I really like starting with natural elements like evergreen or birch wood. Those feel wintery to me, but they aren't specifically 'Christmas.' When you start with those, then you can add your more specific holiday pieces for the month of December. When January rolls around, you can take those out, and you still have a base of natural but timeless decor that makes sense all the way to February." 

Let the Light in

Lighting is so important around the holidays as days grow shorter and winter stretches on. Massie says that layering in lighting sources can help brighten the decor throughout the winter. 
"I'm a big fan of adding lots of different styles of lights--candles, twinkle lights, prelit garland. That supplemental light is pretty seasonless too. It's so lovely to have little pops of ambient light through January when things feel really dark. 

Let your Inspiration flow

Almost anything can inspire you. Betzler, who used to be very involved in the quilting world, has a soft spot for fabrics. 

"I can definitely build something just on a single fabric swatch!" she says. 

With cheery plaids mixed in with more shimmer and sheen, she created a homey but not too stodgy look for her kitchen and dining areas. Even the front porch, sheltered from the elements, ties into the theme with plaid pillows and cozy throws on a swinging bed faced against rustic rocking chairs. Add some hot cocoa, and you have the perfect place to watch the snowfall. 

Both Betzler and Massie are always on the search for the perfect items for their homes and yours. Visit Betzler at Thorny Creek Market in Smithville. Confused about how to start? Massie now offers online tutorials that guide you through creating your own sanctuary. Visit for more info. 

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