Neatly tucked onto four manicured acres – away from the hustle and bustle – a beautiful home on the shores of Alabama Power‘s Weiss Lake radiates all the joy of the holiday season.
Janet and Randy Tucker’s place in Centre is all the more inviting at this most special time of the year. Massive double doors are decked out in green garland and red and gold ribbon, and two nearly life-sized nutcrackers bid friends to enter. Visitors delight at the treasure trove of Christmas decorations carefully collected by the Tuckers during their 46 happy years together. Each of the home’s rooms appears lovelier than the one before.
It’s no surprise that the couple’s previous home in the Cherokee County Country Club area was often a stop on Centre’s Holiday House trail.
The Tuckers built their custom home at Weiss Lake in 2017, combining many Craftsman-style features. The home’s attractive entryway has wood beams that overhang the dark mahogany doors, ensconced in sturdy stone and brick. The corner lot, at the back of a dead-end street, overlooks the lake, ensuring privacy.
Janet is intent on creating a cozy abode for the couple and their extended family. Their sons, Auburn University graduates Jai and Logan, are both married with children of their own. The Tuckers love to indulge their five grandchildren – three boys, ages 4, 10 and 15, and twin girls, 8 – by creating a magical Christmas of which every youngster dreams.
At Thanksgiving, Randy excitedly called the grandchildren outside at dusk, triumphantly flipping a switch that made the trees surrounding the driveway dance with light.
Meanwhile, adult visitors “oooh and aahhh” at the sight of myriad holiday scenes throughout the Tuckers’ home. Janet’s philosophy matches many a Southerner’s ideas about decorating for the holidays: “The more, the better. We have always done that, ever since the boys were little.”
Indeed, Janet has decorated the five bedrooms with trees bedecked in ornaments. One tree pays homage to her sons’ years at Auburn University. A beribboned tree welcomes the grandchildren to their immense “bunk room” with one queen- and four twin-size beds with Santa pillows. An interior designer added upholstered coronets above the twin beds, matching the lake’s deep blue hues.
Traditionally, when Logan’s children come for Christmas, the Elf on a Shelf, “Sprinkles,” follows along.
“I decorate for every holiday, including Halloween and Thanksgiving,” Janet said, smiling. “We had no trick or treaters, but I still put up my decorations for the grandkids and me. They love the decorations.”
To Janet, decorating is part of the joy of the season. “I want my younger grandchildren to have the joy of Santa Claus as long as possible,” she said.
Gorgeous features abound in custom home
As the center of hearth and home, the kitchen has many luxurious touches. Numerous bright, white cabinets and drawers provide plenty of storage for implements needed to whip up delicious gourmet meals. Befitting the holiday season, the cabinets are draped in red ribbons. Janet’s beloved Santa cups await hot chocolate next to the stove.
A glamorous “stone” backdrop surrounds the stove. Made from synthetic materials, the backdrop prevents overheating of the cooking area. Above the stove, a tall chrome faucet makes it easy to fill cookpots. The huge, quartz-topped island is the perfect spot for Janet to decorate her holiday sugar cookies.
One’s gaze is drawn to the expansive windows in the family room, featuring views of Weiss Lake, the inground pool and the beauty of the landscape surrounding the home. Ten tall windows allow the outdoors in, directing one’s view to the placid waters, and perhaps a daydream about the mountains that loom in the distance.
“We see the weather out here. We have a spectacular view,” Janet said about their area of the lake, Little Nose. “I haven’t seen another one like it. We love the lake; it gives us a different view of each season.
“We get to watch the eagles. There are about three eagles that live near here,” she said. “We get to watch the pelicans. There’s a lot to see. … It’s beautiful out here, even when a storm comes. It looks just like the ocean, sometimes, the way it whitecaps. We love it out here.”
The cozy fireplace, flanked by a beige stone mantle, is the family room’s centerpiece. Above the fireplace, dark wood panels add warmth to the airy space.
“When we bought this property, it was completely wooded,” said Janet, who, with Randy, grew up in Centre and often visited the Piney area of Weiss Lake. “There was an old wood house on the land, and it turned out that one of our best friends – this is where she grew up. We got the wood from that old house. It had been part of the walls. It was just kind of meant to be for us to be out here.”
Janet recently selected new couches and chairs, covered in white fabric that adds to the room’s light and bright feel. A Santa pillow adds whimsy. Custom-made curtains – a muted mixture of beige, coral and teal – echo the colors of the floor rug while framing the windows. Seated beneath the tree, the family’s black-and-white Havanese, Lexi, could be a stuffed toy.
To the left of the family room, the Christmas tree awaits eager grandchildren to open brightly wrapped packages.
“These ornaments are special,” Janet noted about the tree decorations. Every year, she buys two new, identical ornaments. “My thought was that one day, as our boys got older, they will take them for their tree.”
The coffered wood ceiling in the dining room adds to the soaring space. Janet delights in serving Christmas meals on treasured Vietri china – the Old St. Nick pattern – handmade in Italy. A metal-and-glass bar cart in the corner holds crystal wine glasses as Santa looks on from a wreath at the window. At left, a small Christmas tree is loaded with colorful decorations.
A mahogany staircase lends grandeur to the foyer. While the house was being built, Janet’s interior designer discovered several beautifully carved, Art Deco-style mahogany stair pieces in an old building in Birmingham. The reclaimed, curlicued wood adds a special touch to the structure.
“She had just got those, and that lucked out perfectly for us,” Janet said. “You’ve got to have a staircase so you can decorate for Christmas.”
Outdoor living at its finest
“It’s beautiful here,” Janet said. “The lake has so many different looks. It’s calm, stormy, serene. When it storms, it almost looks like the ocean – we feel like we’re living at the ocean when the waves come above the seawall.”
Stepping from the family room to the outdoors, one can imagine lounging at a favorite vacation spot at the beach. An attractive stone patio – built from rock similar to the stone of the house – is steps away, along with the pool. Adding more Christmas flair, the pool area is outfitted with colorful red umbrellas and comfy loungers with red seat cushions, providing a relaxing setting for entertaining friends and family.
“It’s so quiet out here, and we rarely hear a lot of traffic on the lake, even with the boat traffic,” Janet said. “I like to sit out here and read. It’s so peaceful.”
Randy enjoys grilling steaks and beef brisket in their outdoor kitchen. The covered cookhouse can be used rain or shine, and is both utilitarian and attractive. The space allows Randy to chat with family and friends while he grills. Best of all, the outdoor kitchen allows the couple to cook without making the house uncomfortably warm in the summer. A table and chairs provide plenty of seating for guests.
At the boat house, to the right of the backyard, Janet has placed a stuffed Santa that seems to survey the lake. Like many Weiss Lake homeowners, the Tuckers enjoy taking a spin in their pontoon boat.
The couple agreed they are living the sweet life at Weiss Lake.
“We are very happy,” Randy said. “It’s like being on vacation all the time. We love having our children and grandchildren here for the holidays.”
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)