Even with offices in New York and Toronto, clients all over the continent and a book for Rizzoli on the way, Philip Mitchell prefers to spend most of his time ensconced in the quaintly named White Cottage. He shares this rambling home in the village of Chester, Nova Scotia, with his husband, advertising executive Mark Narsansky, and their two butter-wouldn’t-melt Ganaraskans, Jacob and Wylo… plus a whole lot of nostalgic Christmas decorations and treasures, when the season rolls around. Scroll down to visit them at home!
A roaring fire keeps the chill at bay on Philip (left) and Mark’s covered portico, just off the living room.
For the festive season, the side lights flanking the front door are accented with classic evergreen garlands, and berries are added to the boxwood planters.
Instead of a front hall, a striking panelled dining room leads on to the rest of the house, enfilade style. “This place is super traditional, mainly because it was built in 1795 and we wanted to honor the history of the home,” says Philip. “The house has Cape Cod touches, even Georgian aspects, but there was a lot we wanted to change.”
Dress your table with mix-and-match china, vintage cranberry glassware and simple roses in bud vases to up the seasonal vibe.
A maximalist Christmas tree has pride of place next to the living room fireplace; Philip and Mark proudly display locally made ornaments on its branches. “We bring in the trees a week before Christmas, give them time for the branches to fall, then we’ll start to decorate,” says Philip.
Mark’s snow globe collection creates a whimsical holiday moment on a vintage table in the living room.
The kitchen includes plenty of space for baking and entertaining. The holidays are a perfect time to display cherished items like a collection of new and antique rolling pins or a set of well-loved
Give open storage a holiday spin by adding red baubles to your collection of dishes. Here, emerald green antique Majolicaware, mid-century finds and ceramics from Portugal and Spain are bejewelled with ornaments for a dash of Christmas style.
Upper cabinets were sacrificed to make room for the sink and banquette, with the latter designed to offer spectacular views across the water.
“We have three bars in the house, and everything is always stocked,” says Philip. “We love classic martinis, but we have anything from champagne to Chablis on hand to keep our guests happy.”
Mark’s love of baking knows no bounds. In fact, he’s working on a cookbook (his specialties include chocolate butter tarts and shortbread).
The antique games table comfortably hosts smaller get-togethers (or Scrabble and backgammon tournaments) during the holidays.
Even Mark’s painting studio is decorated for the holidays. “Our guests often like to wander the house,” says Philip.
While much of the house is light and bright, Philip chose a richer, darker palette in the powder room. An old chest was repurposed as a vanity.
The bedroom is a medley of pale neutral tones to keep the focus on the antique pine mantel, a favorite piece that Philip had built into the space.
For even more Christmas cheer, Philip dresses all the gates on their property with an evergreen wreath and red ribbon.
While things are quieter during the winter, come summertime, the wharf is where dinner guests moor their boats.
Author: Arren Williams
House & Home November 2020