Photos by Spacecrafting
For Megan Burton, owner of Milton House Design Collective, the ability to comfortably entertain guests is one of her favorite aspects about her Roseville home—whether it’s hosting her annual Thanksgiving Day feast with both sides of the family, a cozy Friendsgiving get-together, or a cheery Christmas soirée.
“We love hosting, so that was a big part of the design of this house,” says Burton, who moved to the northeast suburb from St. Paul’s Como Park neighborhood with her husband, Mark, after the two decided they needed more space for their growing family. “We also needed more sightlines to the kids while we were in the kitchen—our previous one was closed off—so the open-concept kitchen-to-living-room idea was really appealing to us. It’s also great for entertaining!”
Built by Hanson Builders (with the interiors designed by Burton herself), the couple’s two-story house started out with a farmhouse aesthetic that has since morphed into more of a modern, eclectic style. “Our home is always evolving, but I particularly love mixing vintage with modern,” says Burton, who founded her own boutique interior design firm just three years ago.
This dynamic design spirit is also evident in the way Burton dresses up her home for the holidays. “I keep holiday styling to our main-level mantel and dining table, and change it up from year to year by dressing [up] the windows or banister … whatever strikes my fancy!” she says. “There’s design inspiration everywhere this time of year—the energy of stores styled for the holidays or a new blanket of snow settling in under the warm glow of the streetlights—so I’m constantly being inspired by the things around me.”
While Burton enjoys changing up her decor throughout the house each year, she consistently strives to keep her looks simple, yet striking. “I’m a big fan of visually impactful things that are low-effort, especially being in a house with three kids,” she explains. “Time is at a premium around the holidays, so I do things that don’t take a long time. I like to keep it inexpensive, not too traditional or stylized, and everything feeling light and fresh.”
Her living room, with its bright white walls and trim, sleek white-tiled fireplace surround, and chic midcentury-modern accent pieces (the marble-topped barrel-base coffee table is her personal favorite, while the teakwood hand chair was a gift from Santa a few years ago), creates the perfect backdrop to layer in organic touches and showcase some sophisticated holiday style.
“I love using fresh greenery—you can’t beat the aroma and energy it brings into a room,” says Burton, who drapes her banister with a combination of cedar and white pine boughs. If you’re concerned about keeping your greenery looking fresh all season long, she recommends opting for artificial and adding some elegant accessories—like she did with the eucalyptus wreaths adorning the living room’s picture windows. “They’re from Target, and I added some additional ribbons to dress them up,” she says.
Setting a beautiful table is a specialty of Burton’s, and using fresh produce as decor is one of her favorite tricks. When she recently hosted a holiday get-together for a small group of professional friends, her table featured a unforgettably rich medley of holiday colors through green artichokes, golden pears, and red pomegranates. Citrus fruits added brighter pops of color, standing out against a simple black-and-white checkered tablecloth.
“I get excited about menu planning and find inspiration at the supermarket—oftentimes Trader Joe’s has beautiful produce. I pick up some fruits and vegetables, grab some greenery, and arrange it all on a fun tablecloth,” says Burton. “Find food that’s pretty by itself, and that’s your decor!”
Her beloved collection of vintage brass candle holders (some handed down from her mother and grandmother, others sourced from thrift shops) adds height and elegance to the table, while festive gift bags filled with handmade goodies from Midwest makers shop Rose & Loon add a welcome note of whimsy at each place setting.
Just as her decor was light, bright, and organic, Burton kept her menu for the party simple, fresh, and flavorful: a lemon and herb pasta salad she made the day before, a crisp arugula salad that would be quick and easy to put together, a homemade flatbread, and an apple tart. “One strategy I’ve learned is for anything I’m making, I make the day before, so the day of, I can focus on just a couple items that need to be prepared fresh so I’m not scrambling around trying to get everything ready,” she explains.
Meanwhile, guests sipped on prosecco and snacked from her festive charcuterie board, which included jars of candy canes and gumdrops for a little extra holiday flair. “Charcuterie boards are a great time-saver because you’re really just assembling things that are already beautiful on their own,” says Burton. “You can prep it beforehand, pop it in the fridge, pull it out so it’s room temperature, and then just enjoy your time together.”
During the holidays, many families have certain traditions they enjoy each year, and Burton’s is no exception. At the start of the season, a collection of holiday books is put out on display to encourage the kids to get into the holiday spirit. A tall white nutcracker makes his debut around the same time (often overstaying his welcome into the new year). Some years, Burton helps her kids weave their own wreaths or decorations out of vines she has clipped from the wisteria growing on their outdoor pergola. As for the Christmas tree, you’ll find it nestled in the lower-level family room, carefully decorated by Burton’s daughter, Cora.
“She’s 10 now and likens herself to her own kind of designer, so she’s a little bossy about how the tree and that area is decorated,” Burton says, laughing. “We have a number of ornaments the kids have made and some more traditional decor pieces knocking around the holiday bins, so I let her have complete creative control over the lower level and put them up however she wants.”
But no matter how busy the season gets, Burton encourages everyone to remember what the holidays are all about, and not to get too caught up in the preparations or stressed over making sure your party runs perfectly. “The most important thing I’ve learned is not to over-complicate things,” she says. “Food and decor set the tone for the party, but it’s really about celebrating the people in our lives and enjoying time together—that’s the real focus.”
“This homemade potpourri instantly says, ‘It’s the holidays!’ It smells amazing and takes just a few minutes to make, so it can be done right before guests arrive,” says Burton. “You can play around with the amounts of the ingredients in this recipe since we’re going for aroma, not flavor—there’s really no going wrong here!” (While the potpourri lasts up to a few days, Burton warns that the ingredients will start to brown after a single use, and it won’t look as pretty as it smells. However, you can continue adding water and reheating to unlock the aromas.)
Apple slices, orange slices, and/or lemon slices
Fresh herbs, such as rosemary and thyme
Combine ingredients in a pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low. Allow pot to sit for about 20 minutes before turning off heat.
“I try to limit the number of dishes I’m actually preparing when guests are over to one or two—plus drinks—to keep it easy and fun,” explains Burton. “Flatbread pizza comes together in about 10 minutes, plus 5–10 minutes of cook time. It’s not terribly messy and is great as one of the dishes you can assemble while entertaining.”
Your favorite marinara sauce
Fresh diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
Fresh grated parmesan
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Flake salt and fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Then simply layer the ingredients above, starting with the marinara sauce, onto the flatbread. Pop into the oven for 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and the flatbread is crispy on the bottom. Serve by slicing diagonally into triangles.
Visit midwesthome.com/festive-feasts for even more holiday recipes.