Andraya Frith makes a big deal out of Christmas, and she comes by it honestly. “I’m the oldest of eight kids,” she says. “We spent the holidays surrounded by cousins, so I always wanted to play host to extended family when I grew up.” Unfortunately, her downtown Toronto home, which she shares with her husband, Graham Kechnie, and daughters Julia and Paige, can barely seat eight for dinner, let alone sleep a crowd.
But in 2012, she and Graham stumbled upon their own Christmas miracle: Drumlin, a farmhouse with 20 rolling acres in nearby Northumberland Hills. The property boasts not one, but two farmhouses, the old one built in 1833 and a new one constructed in 2006. Connected by a breezeway, the two structures now function as a single house and, much to Andraya’s delight, can comfortably accommodate 20-plus overnight guests, with many of the cousins bunking down in the attic-turned-bedroom. “As soon as we came down the drive, I envisioned old-fashioned holiday gatherings,” she recalls. “There’s even a big red shed—our own ‘Santa’s workshop!’”
Each December, Andraya and Graham deck their 20-acre property with elements plucked from nature. Outbuildings like the barn are no exception thanks to a seven-foot cedar wreath. Pups Ramsey and Bailey, both Blue Picardy spaniels, approve of Graham’s fetching, freshly cut Douglas Fir.
Natural touches like pine cones and chestnuts sit atop the iron-and-reclaimed-wood coffee table in the living room. “When it comes to our furniture, ‘It came with the farm’ is a phrase you’ll hear a lot around here,” says Andraya. Case in point: the deep-seated floral wing chairs flanking the fireplace, which now pair well with a new sofa outfitted with throw pillows in nubby textiles like velvet and chenille.
Peg rail–lined shelves are the ideal spot to hang evergreen branches in the newly renovated kitchen. “I found myself drawn to the rich colors and handsome millwork of British farmhouse kitchens,” says Andraya. “The color complements our home’s era and all the holiday greenery.” The sprawling central island (10 feet by 4 feet) is perfectly sized for baking pursuits, including a gingerbread barn built by her sister, Maggie Frith. The cabinetry is by Bloomsbury Fine Cabinetry.
Andraya adds understated holiday flair with simple arrangements of silver dollar eucalyptus and blue thistle in vintage vessels atop the 20-foot-long dining table, a particularly extravagant Christmas gift handmade by Graham’s cousin and delivered by five very strong elves during an ice storm one Christmas Eve.
When it comes time to trim the Douglas Fir tree, Andraya prefers homemade ornaments over store-bought. Each December, she crafts homemade citrus ornaments “When the light shines through, they look like tiny pieces of stained glass,” she says. “And the aroma gives the evergreen a run for its money.”
In addition to Christmas garland, the anteroom (also known as a breezeway) is home to cords of firewood, which keep five fireplaces roaring throughout.
In the master bedroom, the couple handcrafted the rustic headboard with discarded planks found in a few of the property’s outbuildings. A flock of antique taxidermy roams among pine furniture like the bedside table and harvest-table-turned-desk.
In the attic-turned-bedroom, which sleeps six, a tiny unadorned evergreen—along with Andraya’s army of nut-crackers and a bevy of botanical charts (“freebies from a local school,” she says)—adds heaps of holiday cheer among a row of twin beds. Each bed is perfectly punctuated by gift-tagged wire welcome baskets containing brown paper packages and fresh towels.
Named for its compact size, the eight-foot-wide “Snug Room” accommodates a single twin bed and a host of natural accessories, including the citrus garland (see instructions at left), a hornet’s nest above the mantel, and a stacked wood installation displayed in a shallow closet-turned-firewood-rack. “The generous fireplace makes it extra cozy,” says Andraya, noting it’s a favorite of friends and family, who understand good things come in small packages.