When Sharon Moore's childhood friend first approached her about participating in a Christmas tour of homes, she was hesitant. "I knew how much work it was going to be," says Moore. But her friend, Betty Fuller, wouldn't take no for an answer.
Fuller's persistence — in addition to the knowledge that the event supported a good cause — eventually caused Moore to give in.
"It's all about compassion and working to make a difference," she says of Celebrate Recovery, the mission supported by the home tour she participated in last year. The Christian ministry, which focuses on helping participants overcome hurts, hang-ups and habits, is found in 30,000 churches worldwide, including the program at Trenton Ministry Center which the annual tour benefits. "It's taking something difficult and turning it into something of glory," Moore says of the work Celebrate Recovery does.
She and her husband Gary both grew up in Dade County, Georgia. Following their marriage, they moved to Atlanta for their jobs, returning to the Chattanooga area 30 years later, in 2011, when they decided to build their current home.
The couple's three grown children helped design the home, which is set on 30 acres of Sharon's family property in Rising Fawn. It took three years to build. The design was inspired by the old Italian villas in Tuscany, where their son, Gary Moore Jr., worked for eight years for Timbers Resorts.
"We tried to hire as many local people as we could," Sharon says. The home's woodwork was done by JB Millworks in Ringgold and installed by local builder William Lynn. Chattanooga's Hubbuch Glass Co. designed and installed the back of the home — made entirely of windows with a view of Lookout Mountain — and the rock work was done by local couple John and Linda Long. Travis York, the local artisan who installed their marble and tile, bartered for the floor-to-ceiling marble in their master bath, which reportedly came from a 200-year-old Chattanooga building that was demolished. "I wish I knew which building," Sharon laments.
Keeping with the Italian tradition of naming homes, the Moores named theirs "Casa Con Multi," Italian for "house of many porches." The home has five — four covered and all open-air.
In getting the home ready for its Christmas tour showing, Sharon and daughters Shelley and Becca spent a total of 400 hours. "They came every weekend for weeks on end," Sharon says. "It was a lot of work, but very rewarding. People just kept telling us how much they appreciated us opening our home."
They decorated everything — all the interior rooms of the 5,600-square-foot, five-bedroom home, as well as the garden and outdoor spaces. "My husband said there wasn't a place he could lay down his hand that wasn't decorated," Sharon says with a laugh.
Her favorite aspect of the décor was the fresh greenery used throughout the home. They sourced holly from a neighbor whose tree was disrupting his home's foundation and was forced to cut it down, and acquired their 15-foot Christmas tree from a farm in Highlands, North Carolina, where daughter Shelley and her husband Brent have a cabin. The Moores and their three children each pick out a tree from the farm as an annual holiday tradition.
Another special item was the nativity scene found on the French buffet in the dining room.
Sharon inherited the scene, which appears entirely handmade, from her mother, who used it in her own holiday décor for 50 years. "Every piece [of decoration] has a long story," Sharon says.
Cutting the holly with its sticky leaves proved to be quite the challenge, though they were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor for a month. "It was such a luxury to have that beautiful holly," says Sharon, who is an avid gardener. As they worked, some of the berries fell onto the garage floor, and Sharon says the stains always put a smile on her face.
When the halls aren't decked with boughs of holly and the like, Sharon describes her typical décor as "traditional with a flair for the Italian villa look." Many of her mother's antiques are mixed with more modern pieces, and Sharon eschewed window coverings in most instances for an open feel.
The family did all the landscaping themselves, incorporating sentimental items such as old-fashioned daffodils and daylilies given to Sharon by friends and neighbors.
While the Moores' home won't be included in Trenton Ministry Center's holiday home tour this year, the tour will feature two homes in Wildwood and another in Trenton. The tour starts at Trenton Ministry Center, located at 1 Georgia Ave., Monday, Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 each, and proceeds go toward Celebrate Recovery.