Come December, many families begin their annual negotiations—certain exes who must not be named; childhood resentments better left unspoken; please, in the name of all that is holy, no politics!—as they make plans to unite for the holidays. But there are also Christmas miracles—folks like the Binghams, who get along so well year-round that they don’t have to hammer out a yuletide détente.
“We’re a tight-knit family,” says Paige Bingham. “My mom and my two brothers and I spend a lot of time together.”
That’s not hyperbole. Siblings Paige, Brett, and Brian all work for the meeting logistics company their mother, Pat, launched 27 years ago. And at the end of the workday, mom and daughter retire to homes a few doors down from one another.
While Pat loves working—and living—so closely with her children, she had always longed for a timeless getaway where the whole family could escape on weekends and gather for holidays for generations to come. “My kids were raised on a ranch,” she says. “The boys showed cattle, and I had a big garden. We missed all that when we moved to Dallas.”
So the matriarch—always a problem solver—started running the roads, searching in earnest for land located no more than an hour or so from Dallas. She hit pay dirt in Era, Texas (population: 423). “We found these 300 acres, just full of cactus and totally overgrown,” she says. “But the property had a state reservoir on it, and I could envision a house backing up to the lake. I knew everyone could have a place here.”
Despite the decidedly Lone Star state of the land, Pat’s vision for her dream home didn’t include a single Texas Hill Country–sourced stone. “Paige used to live in London, so I had the opportunity to travel to Europe a lot,” she says. “That’s how I knew what I wanted here: a European-style country home.”
She also knew the right person to make that dream a reality: interior designer Lisa Luby Ryan, who decorated both Pat’s and Paige’s Dallas homes as well as their company’s Dallas and London offices. “Back when she had her shop in Snider Plaza, Lisa would go on buying trips to France,” Pat says. “Together, we started shopping for cabinets, old doors, and all kinds of things that would create a French chateau feel.”
In addition to carefully curating architectural details and antique furnishings, Ryan also sourced the right architect: the late Jeff Bowers. Together, the pair collaborated on the design and spent two years constructing a new build that feels like it’s been around for 100 years. “That’s what I’m known for—mixing old architectural elements and details that give a home a sense of age and history,” Ryan says.
Even though the home is filled with one-of-a-kind finds, it’s more “farm” than fancy, very much by design. “It’s durable and livable,” Ryan says. “It’s all about creating layers and texture. We dug, and we searched, and we turned over every stone to find treasures like old breadboards, cutting boards, and creamware.”
Five years later, there’s no other place the Binghams can imagine spending the holidays. “There are kids running around, a wet dog coming and going, and muddy boots stomping in after a day of hunting and fishing,” says Pat. “Nothing here is too precious.”
Without fail, the Christmas tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving—once Paige hauls it home from the nearby tree farm in “Lucy,” her bright red, circa-1954 Chevy truck. The lights and wreaths are hung on the split rail fence with care; invites go out to friends and family for the annual bash; and Paige and Pat preheat the oven. “I bake, and Mom cooks,” explains Paige. “My nieces are all in college now, so these days, some of the neighborhood kids come over to help make all the cookies and cakes.”
The family also gets down to business—even when they’re 50 miles away from the office. Laughs Pat, “We always have a puzzle going at Christmas.”