Custom-built for Christmas: Their yule tree has its own room – From the Commercial Appeal

Custom-built for Christmas: Their yule tree has its own room – From the Commercial Appeal
Mon. 01 Dec. 2008 (mcchristmasroom3) Photo by Matthew Craig. Carolyn Ragland (cq) takes decorations out of storage in her Christmas tree room. The room was included in the design specifically for her Christmas decorations including her tree which she keeps decorated year round.Carolyn Ragland in her Christmas tree room. The room was designed for her decorations, including her tree, which she keeps decorated year round. - Photo by Matthew Craig/The Commercial Appeal

By Cassandra Kimberly, 529-2786


Memphis Commercial Appeal


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Carolyn Ragland loves to entertain — especially at Christmas.


With fond memories of Christmas parties hosted in her childhood home, the Memphis native does her best to re-create a similar atmosphere during her favorite holiday.


Decorated top to bottom, her 9,000-square-foot, custom-built home in East Memphis is filled with friends and family for holiday celebrations.


But many guests may never realize how deep Ragland’s affection for Christmas runs unless they look behind an 11-foot pair of French doors in the center of 6020 Wild Oaks Drive.


In what Ragland and her husband, David, call the “Christmas tree room,” Dec. 25 is literally celebrated all year long.


“When we went to LRK (Looney Ricks Kiss architects), we had them design the four floors around this room,” Ragland said.


From floor to ceiling, the closet is lined with shelves filled with ornaments, garland, snowmen, and in the center a fully decorated Christmas tree ready to be “rolled out” and placed in a corner of the hearth room.


The “room” was designed to fit the tree and holiday items so Ragland didn’t have to wait for her children to visit to decorate.


“I wasn’t going to have any discussions with my husband about decorating the tree,” Ragland said, laughing.


The $1.5 million abode was built and designed with the help of Ragland’s father, Jim Cirtain, in 2002.


The house in River Oaks subdivision took about 18 months to complete, according to the retired general contractor, now 85.


The five-bedroom, Georgian-style house was built with everything on Ragland’s wish list — five fireplaces, four stories, three specialty rooms (sunroom, exercise room and a library) and two offices.


While the house may not have a partridge in a pear tree, it does have a Spanish cedar wine cellar hand-built by Cirtain.


But while so many luxuries were taken into account, above all else there was one condition during the building process:


“We had to design it around the Christmas closet,” Cirtain said.


Recently, though with some hesitation, Ragland and her husband decided to put the lavish home up for sale.


Like many from the baby boomer generation, the couple is looking to downsize their space.


“The house just kept getting bigger and bigger,” she said.


According to a survey released in November by the National Association of Home Builders, one in four baby boom generation households expects to move from their current home.


The majority are looking for a single-level home that is more comfortable or convenient, according to the survey prepared for AARP.


But for those that have the means and the desire to build a custom home, the demand for spaces such as a wine room, billiard room, or even mud rooms for pets aren’t uncommon, said Carson Looney, principal of Memphis-based LRK architects.


Though lessening in popularity, special-function rooms such as home offices, in-law suites and game rooms are still desired by homeowners, according to the American Institute of Architects’ second-quarter 2008 Home Design Trends survey.


“When you think of what people spend on their hunting gear or bicycles, if they add up all of their stuff it’s sometimes more than their car,” he said. “It’s with that kind of thing that people are actually saying ‘I want to appropriately house my active life attributes.’ ”


But with all of the requests Looney has had over the years, the Christmas tree room LRK helped design stands out, he said.


“When you design a custom home, they are relatively the same as a normal home, but you have the ability to accommodate your special and unique desires and needs,” he said. “Certainly, the Christmas tree room is unique.”