Deck the Halls With Family Treasures
By April M Barney
“The Santas used to be packed up after Christmas, but we are so fond of them that we now leave them out all year long. They remind me of Christmas and all the reasons for the happiness of the season.” —Misty Walker
“I like to think that our home reflects us and the fact that we are continually celebrating and making memories.
Celebrating life while creating lasting memories along the way is how the Billy and Misty Walker family lives from day to day. And what better time of year than the holidays to carry on family traditions while making new memories?
In nearly every room of the Walker house, special items are carefully placed to remind the family of the times they’ve shared together. The family christening gown, worn by seven of the Walker children, is framed and hung on the wall in their great room; ornaments gathered while on family vacations decorate each of the six Christmas trees. Santa statues fill the library to remind Billy and Misty Walker of each of the 28 years they have been married.
“The Santas used to be packed up after Christmas, but we are so fond of them that we now leave them out all year long,” says Misty. “They remind me of Christmas and all the reasons for the happiness of the season.”
Nearly 30 years ago, the Walkers planned the construction of their home around the idea of the family they were going to have together.
“When we built we were hopeful of having more children,” Misty says of adding to the three children Billy had from a previous marriage. “We were truly hoping to be a much larger family, and we were right.” The Walkers now have five children and five grandchildren.
One of the most important aspects in planning their future home was the inclusion of a great room that could host friends and family. The house also needed flexible space that could be used for a variety of purposes throughout the years. And while the Walkers agreed on many aspects of the home, there was one area where the couple had to compromise: old versus new.
Misty loves old, historical homes. She wanted a home she could restore, while Billy was all too familiar with residential construction. “He didn’t want old pipes and old roofs,” Misty says. “So we compromised on doing a new house that looked old.”
After three years of researching house plans and building an idea folder three inches thick, construction
of the home was underway with architect Bill Addison at the helm. The home was completed in eight months.
Exuding an English country atmosphere, the Walker house boasts exposed wood beams, custom doors, plaster walls, oak and slate floors, and large fireplaces with wood mantels.
“The custom doors and series of French doors and brick walls were all intended to give the house an
established feel,” Misty says. “We have zillions of really old oak trees and are surrounded by woods, so we felt
comfortable with the [English country] label.”
Visitors to the Walker home are greeted in the foyer by a 10-foot piece of stained glass artwork that features the crests of both the Walker and the Matthews families. The piece was created by well-known artist Ron Dixon. The old Welsh wording on Misty’s family crest reads “What God wills, will be.” The great room is truly the hub of the home. It is divided into small sitting areas and a dining area. The room has hosted a variety of Walker activities including youth group meetings, Mad-Hatter tea parties, prom dinners, senior parties,
an Olympic gathering and the family’s annual Christmas party.
“The Christmas party began 25 years ago when all three of the older children were living with us full-time,” explains Misty. “I realized I did not know their friends’ families as well as I wished. They drew up a list and the December 23rd Party was born. The list never changes; if you were on 10 years ago, you are on the list now.” The list has grown, however, to incorporate new friends and families of regular guests.
The great room, with its hardwood floor, exposed brick wall and gracious circular windows, also is home to many of the family’s cherished heirlooms. In the center of the room sitting on a table is the old family Bible, published in 1873 and given to the Lewis branch of the Walker family in 1874. Recorded within the Bible are family weddings, births and deaths. The room also holds teacups given to Misty by her grandmother, a table from Billy’s mother, and daughter Kensie’s piano given to her by her mother.
“The great room is reflective of who we are,” Misty says. “It is here we have come together for all of life’s celebrations.” Also a room for gathering, the kitchen is where, at Christmastime, a mammoth-sized fresh wreath is hung from the large triple window. Misty started collecting Light of Mine Designs ornaments, created by local
artist Amy Calandra Davis, after they caught her eye at Amazement Square’s Festival of Trees event. These ornaments adorn the wreath in the kitchen.
“The ornaments are all done to benefit children and are in memory of [the artist’s] son who died as a
toddler,” says Misty. “The symbolism and love is painted on every ball and I treasure their unique style.”
In the library sit Santa Claus statues—28 of them—each unique in its own way. Each year a new Santa is added to the growing clan by family decision. Some Santas are antique, a few are signed by artist Lynn Haney, and others just look “cool.”
“We try to get different ones, and for its first year in the library, that Santa sits on a table by himself,” Misty says. Previously the site of the Walker nursery and a bedroom, the library is now the family study with gas fireplace, French doors and built-in bookcases.
“When the big children finished college and moved to their own homes, the little girls [now 18 and 20] moved upstairs and we made their rooms into a paneled library,” Misty explains. “Billy had constructed that part of the house to have a steel beam which would allow the wall to be removed with no worries.”
The current master bedroom was also added to the house later in 2000. This large master suite features a fireplace with marble surround, hardwood floor and a walk-in closet. A cozy sitting area in front of the fireplace affords a quiet spot to admire the 12-foot Christmas tree also in the bedroom during the holidays, featuring ornaments given to the couple by friends throughout the years.
Downstairs in the family room sprawls the family’s Little Dickens Village. Covering an entire wall of the room, the village represents one of the family’s most precious Thanksgiving traditions.
“[Our daughter] Axi used to tell stories as we constructed the town so those stories would dictate the next piece … a school, a toy store, a peddler of mittens,” Misty explains of the ritual, adding that the collection has grown so large they’ve had to stop collecting new pieces.
Throughout the years, as the Walker family has grown in number, the house has changed and grown with them—just the way Misty and Billy dreamed. The house now holds precious treasures, a couple of children, visiting family including their grandchildren, and a host of friends on occasion.
“With our home, we wanted to emphasize that we are one big family and we enjoy being together,” says Misty. “I like to think that our home reflects us and the fact that we are continually celebrating and making memories. That is what we do.”