Standing at the front door, you know this is a Queen Anne cottage made for Christmas; a door with a colorful wreath cut into the stained-glass window.

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Standing at the front door, you know this is a Queen Anne cottage made for Christmas; a door with a colorful wreath cut into the stained-glass window.

Open that door and catch your breath. Inside it’s a winter wonderland. Crystal snowflakes falling from chandeliers. Silver balls on the mantel, the tree, the dinner plates, a chorus of shimmer. Delicate antique glassware on the table, a rusty old tricycle parked by the tree. A perfume of paperwhites dancing in the air. Just lightly.

Heck, this is way better than grandma’s.

“My Christmases as a child? Traditional, Midwest, 1950s,” says interior designer Kelly McCombs of Timeless Interiors, crossing her legs and kicking up a cowboy boot. Visions of Sterling, Ill., are dancing in her head. “My dad would take us sledding at my grandfather’s farm. We would go tobogganing at the park. When the Rock River would freeze we’d go ice skating in our hats and gloves and mittens.

“I love Christmas. It’s just magical for children.”

And it’s magic that McCombs, a grown-up, seeks to conjure each year.

“I never know what I’m going to do,” she says. “But I try to go back to my mind’s eye as a child and see Christmas. I bought those two silver urns for the mantel, and then I thought I’d do a lot of silver this year.”

And so, this time the child in McCombs created a Christmas full of white and light and glitter. So full that you’d swear it had snowed inside her house not too long before you arrived. The French ceramic lamb grazing on the lace-cloth dining-room table seems not to mind. Packages are wrapped with care in coordinating red, white and silver. They hug a dowager of a tree dripping in red, white and silver. Garland drapes its heavy arms, laden with silver balls, across the mantel. No space is too insignificant for a grand gesture. A single red ornament sitting atop a pile of tattered leather-bound books says, “Hey! Look at me! See what I can do over here!”

“I use ‘The Night Before Christmas’ for inspiration. That’s what I see in my mind,” McCombs says, her lap full of border collie.

Which brings us to McCombs’ coordinating critters: the border collies Eleanor Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and her feisty pound kitty, Louise. All a confusion of fur in black and white.

McCombs is an interior designer through and through.

“I just love creating this stuff,” she says, glancing from brush-bottle treetops on the steamer-trunk coffee table to jester-style stockings with bells on their toes. “I was so stressed out, but doing my house for Christmas made me so happy.”

And made her think about being a kid once again.

“Our stockings were filled with whole walnuts, chocolate Santas wrapped in colorful foil, silver dollars, oranges or tangerines.

“And when we’d have snow about 3 feet high my brothers and I would crunch, crunch through the snow in the field by my house.”

Turning happy holiday memories into fine holiday design?

It’s a gift.

Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.