On the holiday tour
• Ken and Linda Dyer, 7715 Scrapeshin Trail
• Bill and Linda Gaddis, 7712 Night Hawk Drive
• Chuck and Cheryl Jackson, 332 Council Fire Drive
• Atmar and Tracy Thompson, 7708 Night Hawk Drive
To get there: Take the East Brainerd Road exit off Interstate 75, bearing east to the light at intersection of East Brainerd and Gunbarrel roads, turn right. Take left onto Davidson Road and continue to Julian Road. Turn right onto Julian, which leads into Council Fire entrance.
• Pratt Designer Home, 7947 Hampton Cove Drive
To get there: Take the Ooltewah exit off I-75 North, turn left at light at bottom of the ramp onto Old Lee Highway and follow to second light. Turn right onto Mountain View Road, take first left onto Snow Hill Road and follow to Hampton Cove subdivision.
• Blanche McKinney, 6470 Solitude Drive
To get there: Take Champion Road off Highway 58, bear left onto Solitude Drive past Booker T. Washington State Park.
IF YOU GO
* What: Freedom's Foundation Tour of Homes
* When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today
* Where: East Brainerd, Ooltewah and Highway 58 neighborhoods
* Admission: $10, tickets may be purchased at the door of any tour home
Seventy-two feet of garland and gold netting wound with 40 feet of beaded rope frames the arched entryway to Atmar and Tracy Thompson's home.
Bold, oversized, red ornaments pop out as curb appeal.
The decoration of the home in Council Fire subdivision hints about treats waiting inside for today's visitors on the Freedom's Foundation Holiday Tour of Homes. The Thompson home is one of six stops on the fundraiser.
Freedom's Foundation of Valley Forge is a national nonprofit dedicated to maintaining the public's appreciation for living in a free and democratic society. Chapters do so with educational programs and citizenship awards.
Local chapter President Chris McSpadden says proceeds from today's tour will help send high school juniors to the national Spirit of America Leadership Conference, sponsored by the foundation in Valley Forge, Pa.
Tour Chairwoman Barbara Knowles says all the homes have been decorated for the holidays, including a new, unsold Pratt Designer Home in the Hampton Cove subdivision. McSpadden believes this is the first year a new, unused property has been included on the tour.
The stops on the tour are "beautiful homes that people would enjoy touring," says Knowles.
Eleven trees have been decorated in the Thompson house by Margie Burgin, interior designer with Chic Solutions. She says all the trees are decorated to complement either their rooms' color schemes or furnishings, and all are brimming with ideas visitors might try in their own homes.
For example, the dining room's crystal chandelier was the inspiration for a tree that glitters with all-crystal ornaments backlit by white lights. Clear fleur de lis ornaments, crystal cherubs holding beaded swags and crystal finials sparkle on its branches.
"My favorite is the guest bedroom's tree," says Thompson, where the ornamentation is sprays of silk hydrangeas in colors of the room's decor. It is also the only tree wound in a single strand of ribbon in order to highlight the rosebud appliqués on the fabric.
In the great room, the tree is wound with 20 yards of cranberry ribbon doubled with gold netting, which coordinates with the rose floral pattern of the room's upholstery and window treatments. Silver cherubs, vintage-inspired ornaments and gold tassels drip from its branches.
Burgin says 10 of the 11 trees are saturated with about 300 ornaments each. The exception is a slim, flocked tree in the downstairs study whose only ornamentation is an occasional spray of red silk holly berries or a cluster of pine cones. The tree's flocking shimmers like snow against its white lights.
Two doors up from the Thompson's home, visitors will find natural elements are the theme of Linda Gaddis' decorations.
"I have an unusual Nativity that I love, but what I usually gravitate toward is a lot of pine cones, berries and evergreen. I use live garland," the homeowner adds.
Blanche McKinney's lake home was on the Freedom's Foundation tour six years ago. She said she has been asked every year since to open her doors again and finally agreed this year.
"I start decorating in mid-October in order to get it all up," says McKinney, who adds that she has a tree in every room -- even the laundry room.
"My TV room is done in nutcrackers. I have nutcrackers I have collected over the years and decorations from my children's childhoods," she describes. "My kitchen is decorated in gingerbread, my summer kitchen in Santas and snow men."
McKinney says she enjoys opening her home for the tour because "it's like old home week. I see a lot of old friends come through my house that I haven't seen for years."
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...