Tis the Season

BY Marimar McNaughton


When the stockings are hung the candles lit the table laden with turkey and ham Eddie and Margaret Collins will count their blessings “reflect on the year give thanks to God for our health and our family and enjoy a great dinner … ” Margaret says. “For our family Christmas is our main time together. Despite hectic schedules and miles between us we all make sure that by dinnertime on Christmas Eve we are all near our home on Salisbury Street.”

The couple begins their observance on Christmas Eve at the candlelight service at Wrightsville United Methodist Church. Joined by son Matt Corpening 18 and Charlene Heitman Margaret’s mother they will celebrate the season in their two-story waterfront home overlooking Sunset Lagoon and Banks Channel an enchanted setting where it is entirely within the realm of possibility that Santa Claus might arrive by motor yacht or by limousine.

A grand entrance past sabal palm trees and up the double entry stairs made of resilient epie wood treads and handrails leads to elegant four-panel glazed mahogany front doors which open into a towering two-story foyer. Reclaimed Cape Fear River wood covers the floors throughout much of the house which is designed around a lofty great room with high ceilings clerestory daylight and continuous fenestration — a wall of windows and doors — drenched with views of the surrounding waterways.

The expansive view is upstaged by a fabulous curved staircase rendered with river wood treads and wrought iron spindles. The stair ascends to a second floor landing where an open balcony embraces the breadth of the upper level linking bedroom suites and recreation media and fitness rooms in the east and west wings. The elegant master suite is furnished with romantic accent pieces like the carved French country cottage bed frame armoire and upholstered chaise. The adjoining master bath features a walk-in shower New Venetian gold granite counters and sink surrounds Old World vanities and a claw foot tub.

The heart of the home is the great room. Uniting its owners’ passions for outdoor living and exotic destinations decorative elements of the great room include a carved mahogany mantel over a shell marl hearth. Throw pillows embroidered in coral and aquamarine cushion the linen beige sofas. Tobacco-brown woven wicker armchairs and ottomans are grouped on a textured black sisal rug with a leopard print border. The great room with nearby wet bar and adjoining open deck is a place for entertaining guests or lounging around the fireplace and the flat-screen television. This was the obvious place to display the Christmas tree.

The formal dining area is established with a dropped coffered ceiling. An estate-inspired chandelier with a tortoiseshell finish is centered over the glass-topped round table surrounded by luxurious upholstered armchairs placed on a circular shag rug. The dining room is adjacent to the open kitchen a state-of-the-art gourmet cook’s dream. Provisions are stored in a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer with a tinted glass door and separate bottom drawers preserve interior temperatures.

An island for prepping food or dining casually is covered in Uba Tuba granite matched in kitchen counters. A decorative hood above the Wolf gas range is embellished with a shell marl backsplash and a pot-filler for the ease of filling heavy stockpots with water. Equipped with a Wolf convection wall oven and microwave Margaret prepares a hearty country breakfast on Christmas morning and bakes delicious Scottish shortbread from a recipe handed down to her from her grandmother Sarah O’Hara Heitman.

“The shortbread recipe is a simple one and it truly came over with my grandmother from Glasgow Scotland to New York and Ellis Island in 1906 ” Margaret says. “Spreading the Scottish cheer to everyone with Scottish shortbread … that’s a tradition for our family. What they did was give it as gifts.”

After the Christmas feast the Collins might retire to the smoking den off the dining room. Complete with thermostat-controlled humidor and wine cellar it is a sanctuary where the family members and guests can relax sip wine enjoy a fine cigar and tell a story or two. Paneled in river wood the lounge is separated from the main house by double hung glazed doors and looks over the water.

At the ground level an outdoor living room furnished in timeless all-weather outdoor wicker cushioned sofas and chairs is grouped around a three-stage stacked flagstone and bluestone propane grill and rotisserie with seating for guests and a cold station to chill beverages when the outdoor temperature is too warm. The adjoining thermostat-controlled floating pool and waterfall are outfitted with microfiber lighting and a built-in bench for quick dips. Amenities include his-and-hers outdoor showers and a spacious changing room. On the waterfront an outdoor dining room is set beneath a gazebo that is also equipped with a fish-cleaning table and a dock locker for stowing line and gear. Their 23-foot Regulator center console Higher Ground is secured in the floating dockside boatlift. At the ready are the Collins’ blonde labs Marlin and Mako while their younger “sibling ” Holy Mackerel that attends retreiver school in Rocky Point waits for his master to take him hunting.

Hunting is a passion for Eddie whether it takes place on the Collins’ 5-acre farm in Burgaw or halfway around the world in the wilds of Africa. Game fowl and mammals both domestic and exotic figure prominently on the walls of the farmhouse trophy room and on the table at mealtime.

“What we don’t give away we eat ” Eddie says. He hunts the farm for deer wild turkey and ducks. The farm is also a weekend retreat for the busy Wrightsville Beach real estate broker and home builder. “That’s where we relax ” Margaret says. Beside the freshwater ponds the family hosts an annual oyster roast at the farm.

“We do Thanksgiving at the farm and Christmas here ” Margaret says. To the sounds of jingle bells amplified throughout the home indoors and outside the halls are decked are for the season of giving.