Design Decor

Elegant, Curated Creativity for Every Event

When momtrepreneur Mary Ellen Nichols first launched Christmas Decor Plus More in 2020, she approached this new venture with her same unbridled level of enthusiasm that has marked her entire business career. Mary Ellen started in business as a commercial banker with a large regional bank, later leaving to acquire multiple The UPS Store franchises with her husband, John. With their desire to diversify and Mary Ellen’s love for everything Christmas, they acquired an existing business, Christmas Decor of Knoxville, in 2020.

For 15 years, Christmas Decor Plus More had focused primarily on holiday outdoor decorating and lighting. But why stop on just the outside? Mary Ellen and new business partner, Linda Heaton Ridings, soon expanded their services to include interiors with their newly launched Design Decor, an all-inclusive concierge decorating company specializing in seasonal and event décor and interior decorating.

Linda is also no stranger to Knoxvillians. The creative genius of Design Decor, Linda is the former owner of Knoxville-based Elegant Essentials, master florist, interior decorator, former Executive Director of Marketing for East Tennessee PBS, master networker, full-time realtor, culinary artist, wife, and mom. Ask a busy woman, RIGHT?

In this issue of Everything Knoxville, we are excited to bring you this recent interview with two of Knoxville’s busiest women and dynamic duo, Mary Ellen Nichols and Linda Heaton Ridings. Whether you’re considering a future event or if your holiday décor or home’s interior requires a much needed boost, this interview will be sure to please.

EK: First of all, for all the aspiring women entrepreneurs out there, what motivated you to launch your own businesses?

Mary Ellen: As a commercial banker, I first became inspired by my almost daily interactions with small business owners. I understood their commitment and responsibilities to their businesses, but I also saw the enthusiasm for their futures that only seemed to be limited by the size of their dreams.

Linda: My mom said that I was born an entrepreneur. Self-employment soon became an outlet for my creative side. A traditional career path might have stifled my creativity by placing me in a box. Regardless of your age, it’s never too late to venture out on your own and to pursue your dreams!

EK: Does Design Decor provide services to both residential and business clients?

Linda: Absolutely! Homeowners and business owners understandably become frustrated with the time required to properly decorate the interior and exterior of their homes and businesses for the holidays. They also get bored with their two decades old ornaments and seasonal décor.

Mary Ellen: We take the frustration out of seasonal and event decorating. We do it all, leaving you with nothing but the fond memories of a very special event or seasonal celebration enjoyed with close friends and family.

EK: To be clear, Design Decor is not just limited to the Christmas holiday, correct?

Mary Ellen: Correct. For any season and any reason, we can assist you in finding the perfect décor to fit your unique style. From Christmas to graduations, from autumn celebrations to weddings, and from grand openings to anniversaries, our talented and experienced decorators will inspire your imagination.

Linda: And it all begins with our free consultations, where we listen to your dreams and offer you the benefit of our decades of planning expertise to create a special or seasonal event designed to exceed your wildest expectations!

EK: What options are available?

Linda: For our seasonal clients, there are a variety of interior and exterior packages available. We help you select a signature theme – say champagne or crystal, just to name a few – which can be leased or purchased. We create, install, maintain, remove, and store your themed décor. Also, you’ll especially like our protective floor coverings used during setups and removals, which help ensure that not one piece of sparkle or glitter remain after we’ve gone!

Mary Ellen: We do everything from A to Z, freeing you up to enjoy your holidays or special events. We also offer a wide variety of options and price points for every budget. All you need to do is to enjoy your stress-free holiday or event!

EK: What else would you like our readers to know about Design Decor?

Mary Ellen: We encourage your readers to visit our recently remodeled retail showroom at 627 American Glass Way in Knoxville. We’re located just off the I-40 and Lovell Road interchange on Outlet Drive. Our showroom features a variety of beautifully decorated vignettes designed to inspire you into your world of endless possibilities.

Linda: We offer a full range of interior decorating services as well. Our experienced decorators can help you achieve that designer-inspired look that you’ve been dreaming of, whether it’s a single room or your entire home. Visit us online at, where you can purchase a wide variety of seasonal and interior design décor items all personally selected by Mary Ellen and myself.

EK: In closing, is there anything else you would like to add?

Linda: We hope that you will take the time to visit our designer showroom Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. Monday is reserved for appointments only. Take the opportunity to visit our website to begin imagining a worry and hassle-free next event, seasonal celebration, or interior design project.

Mary Ellen: Your future of stress-free holiday and special events begins with one phone call to schedule your free consultation. Why not transform all of your events from “ordinary” to “EXTRAORDINARY?”

Design Decor
627 American Glass Way
Knoxville, TN 37932

Posted in FeaturedComments (0)

What Does True Leadership Look Like?

By John Smith

I heard a sermon centered on the biblical account of the Apostles asking Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” There was a bit of competition, and each of these men were hoping to get this recognition; but Christ surprised them by bringing a small child into their midst. He shared that the “greatest” is the person who ministers to this little child. While I believe He was putting an intentional focus on the importance of children, it also placed a broader emphasis on helping the “lowliest” among us.

While there are many applications for this, it’s a great example for leaders. Too often the emphasis is on the “performers,” the “cream of the crop,” or stars that shine above all others. Why not? They are the ones who win the awards, get the recognition, get the promotions. But imagine what better, healthier, and more successful organizations we could have if leaders would be more intentional and consistent in taking an interest in developing all employees. Spending time with the under performer, not in a corrective manner but in a sincere interest in helping them. Or learning about the people with whom they work. What motivates/demotivates them? What do they want to do or become?

Having worked for more than three decades, I have had very few bosses who seemed to care about me personally. As long as I was performing, all was good. It wasn’t that they didn’t care but, like so many, their focus was on the “bottom line,” profitability, all things that are important and necessary but often at the expense of helping and/or developing people. It seems like most bosses just show up every day to ensure that the wheels don’t come off the bus. It’s a cycle that continues until they retire or move on, but that’s not really leadership.

I now have had the opportunity to lead others, and looking back I don’t regret not having another meeting or working more hours or even making more money and getting more responsibility. You know what I do regret? Not investing more in people. I regret not being more intentional about spending time with the people with whom I worked. Not helping an under performer become better. I regret not helping a person who was unhappy in their role find happiness. I regret not learning more about what people wanted to become and helping them get there. We need more leaders. Not self-appointed. Not title only leaders. We need leaders who genuinely care about helping and developing people. Leaders who intentionally invest in others. They are the greatest among us.

Our guest columnist this month is John Smith, an Operations Supervisor at Fleenor Security Systems. Originally from Michigan, John lives in Knoxville with his wife and three daughters.

Posted in BusinessComments (0)

Knox Heritage

Celebrate the Holiday Season at Historic Westwood

Historic Westwood is one of Knoxville’s premier historic house experiences. Celebrate the holidays in grand style at the beautiful former residence of artist Ann Adelia Armstrong Lutz.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1890 home is a rare example of the Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque architectural styles. Today, visitors can enjoy tours led by trained volunteer docents and can experience Gilded-Age architecture and interiors, a large collection of original art by Adelia Lutz, and a stunning collection of antique slag glass lamps from the Coates collection. Tours are provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

On Sunday, December 5, Historic Westwood will open its doors for the annual Holiday Home Tour. The grand home will be filled with beautiful holiday decorations, including a tree featuring handmade Victorian ornaments created by the Knoxville Chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America. Experience docent-led house tours, holiday music, and refreshments. Santa will be stopping by between 2 and 5 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children (12 and under). A daytime tour is available from 1 to 5 pm, and a special candlelight tour is available from 6 to 8 pm. Tickets are available to purchase at

Free parking is available at the adjacent Laurel Church of Christ located at 3457 Kingston Pike.

Make Historic Westwood part of your family’s Christmas tradition. Explore more at

Posted in HistoryComments (0)

Southern Market

Posted in ShoppingComments (0)

Shelf Help

Make a World of Difference by Simply Transforming Your Kitchen and Bath Storage

If you’ve wished that your home’s existing kitchen and bath storage were easier to organize, or if you’ve ever experienced difficulty in reaching items due to a health or mobility issue, Shelf Help offers the perfect solution.

At Shelf Help, we work with homeowners to evaluate, design, and install custom roll-out shelving and organizers that fit right into your home’s existing kitchen and bath cabinets or pantries, providing you with easier access, better organization, and maximum use of your available storage space.

And for those who may experience challenges reaching cabinets that are too low, too high, or too deep, Shelf Help allows you to make full and far more efficient use of your storage space.

With our built to order roll-out shelving, cabinet organizers, and pantry storage systems, tasks are made simpler with easier access to kitchen and bath items and with the added advantage of optimal usage of storage space – a place for everything and everything in its place! 

Homeowners also appreciate how affordable Shelf Help is, saving 50% or more when compared to national brands.

Our clients are so pleased with the results, they say “We should have done this years ago!” 

As experienced Knoxville-area kitchen and bath design consultants and a locally owned business, Shelf Help has the understanding and know-how to evaluate, design, measure, and professionally install solutions tailored to your needs and budget.

To learn how you can better organize your kitchen, bath, or pantry, call today to request your free, no-obligation, in-home consultation. Mention this article and receive up to $250 off with a minimum purchase.

Locally owned and operated, let Shelf Help make the most of your home’s kitchen, bath, or pantry storage space.

Shelf Help

Posted in LifestyleComments (0)

Meadow View

November in the Garden

By Lisa Grugin

We have had a beautiful fall so far! It has been a bit warmer than some of my workers would prefer, but I am a warm weather lover. I turn cranky when it gets cold.

I know that many of you will be switching into holiday mode once that calendar page turns to November, but there are still plenty of things that can be done in your yard. This is the month to start “putting your garden to bed.” What does that mean? It means doing a few little things that will help your plants make it through the winter without any worries.

* The first thing of course is a good walk about. You know the drill: Look up, down, and all around to see what is hiding. Check trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables, and annuals to see how they are doing. Are they happy or sad? Do you have insects, diseases, damage, etc.? Let us know if you have questions about how to address those issues.

* The second thing is a good cleanup. You can dramatically reduce your insect and disease problems next year by cleaning up plant debris this year. Insect eggs and fungal spores like to hang around on old leaves during the winter so they can emerge to a host next spring.

* Cleanup also involves weeding. I know you are tired of pulling weeds, but letting them go to seed will make your life much harder next year. Get as many out as possible and apply a pre-emergent to keep them from coming back. Remember that those products do not stop weeds with bulbs (nut sedge) or “running” weeds (clover, Bermuda, smilax). You will have to keep pulling those.

* This is a good time to add mulch. Some of you had your mulch wash away with the rains, or you might have skipped re-applying it this spring. Mulch helps to keep soil and moisture levels stable. It helps roots establish and keeps perennials from heaving out of the ground.

Once you get things tucked in, there are other things that can be done as well:

* If you have bare areas, keep planting. Trees and shrubs can be planted as long as the ground isn’t frozen. Let’s have a little refresher course on planting trees and shrubs:

1. Dig your hole twice as wide as your root ball, but no deeper.
2. Mix the soil that comes out of the hole 50/50 with a good planting mix or soil conditioner. If your plants want acidic soil, add soil acidifier.
3. Loosen up the roots on your plant.
4. Place your plant into its hole and backfill with the soil mixture. Press the soil firmly around the root ball.
5. Water your plant well and use a root stimulator to help feeder roots establish.

* There are some perennials that can still be planted. You want to get them in soon, however. Roots need to get established before the ground gets too cold.

* Pansies and violas can still be planted. They add such a ray of sunshine when we get into those grey, dreary days of winter!

* Fluff those containers and get them ready for the holidays. Replace annuals with pansies or evergreen foliage. Don’t be afraid to play around with colors and textures!

* Continue to remove falling leaves from grassy areas. Chop them up with your lawn mower and then use them as mulch around your plants. Decomposing leaves are wonderful for your soil!

* Speaking of soil, fall is a good time to add compost and manure so they can break down and enrich your soil during the winter months.

Now I am going to switch gears and talk about Christmas trees, because many of you are buying them earlier than you used to. Here are some things that you need to be aware of:

* There is a shortage. My order was cut 35% by the grower, and some sizes are not available. Many of the growers have gone out of business, and it isn’t a quick fix. Trees take 5-10 years to grow and must be sheared, cleared, and watched. You might end up with a tree that is not quite the size, shape, or variety that you would have preferred. Please remember that all Christmas trees are beautiful once decorated, and don’t let a bare spot or European styling (more space between branches) keep you from buying.

* Ask where the trees come from and when they were cut before you buy, and only buy from a reputable source.

* Keep your tree watered. Use as big a stand as you can, and don’t let it go dry. The tree will seal over if it isn’t in water continuously and will no longer be able to “drink.”

I will talk about other holiday plants next month. We have gorgeous plants and gifts still coming in. Stop by and see us soon!

Meadow View Greenhouses & Garden Center
9885 Highway 11E
Lenoir City, TN 37772

Posted in LifestyleComments (0)

Southeastern Dermatology

Triton Laser Hair Removal

Remove unwanted body hair from all areas of your skin with Triton, the world’s first simultaneous multi-wavelength laser hair removal system. Unlike traditional hair removal methods such as waxing, shaving, bleaching, or using depilatory creams that only provide temporary hair reduction, laser hair removal impacts the root of the problem, providing permanent hair reduction. In the long run, laser hair removal saves time and money. It can also eliminate the pain and embarrassment of unsightly razor bumps. 

How does laser hair removal work? 
Lasers emit specific wavelengths of light that can pass through the skin and specifically target the pigment within the hair. When enough energy is absorbed by the pigment, the follicle is permanently destroyed. It is important to understand that the hair follicles have three phases of a growth cycle: Anagen, the growing phase; catagen, the transition phase; and telogen, the resting phase. Other laser hair removal treatments only target hair follicles in the active growing phase, leaving patients having to come back for up to 10 treatments. However, Triton’s combination of wavelengths means that it can combat hair removal at different stages of the hair growth cycle. Both deep hairs and newly emerging hairs can be treated at the same time, allowing patients to enjoy better results and smoother, softer skin in fewer treatment sessions.

What else makes the Triton laser hair removal device unique?
Triton, the world’s first high-powered simultaneous multi-wavelength hair removal device, is FDA approved to have simultaneous firing of multiple wavelengths on a hair removal machine. Unlike older devices, which only emit a single wavelength of light, Triton has multi-wavelength hair removal energies that work in synergy to treat the widest range of hair removal concerns. These capabilities assure patients that Triton will be the best solution for their individual hair removal needs. 

This game changing device can treat virtually all hair removal concerns such as: 
» Light hair or skin  
» Dark hair or skin  
» Fine or coarse hair  
» Medium complexion and thickness  
» Stubborn hair  
» Large body areas that require quick treatment times  
» Small sensitive areas 

Traditional laser hair removal treatments often require 6, 8, 10, or more sessions. With Triton, we are seeing 70-80% clearance in just 3 treatments (about half the number of traditional “Gold Standard” lasers) by blending these wavelengths together. 

What should I expect during and after a Triton treatment? 
Triton hair removal treatments are quick. Even large areas such as a back or legs can be treated in about 15 minutes. The effectiveness of Triton’s contact cooling makes the treatments very tolerable. A slight sunburn-like feel will be noticeable for several days, but there is no downtime. 

The fall and winter season is the best time to start your laser hair treatment. Give us a call to schedule your first appointment! 

Southeastern Dermatology
1930 Pinnacle Pointe Way
Knoxville, TN 37922

Posted in HealthComments (0)

Marsh Wealth Management

Helping Your Aging Parents

By Yvonne Marsh, CFP®, CPA

The passage of time can catch you off-guard – years fly by, and suddenly you realize that your parents might need help when it comes to managing their finances.

Whether that time is imminent or somewhere in the unknown future, a critical first step is simply having a conversation with your parents about their finances. Make sure you are covering these topics:

• Bill paying: Do they have enough current income to pay their bills, and do they have a process to make sure payments don’t accidentally get missed? This is especially important for annual life insurance or long-term care insurance premiums. Policies they have been paying for years could lapse due to non-payment.
• Do they have critical legal documents in place? We all think of a will as important, but do they have a financial power of attorney that will allow someone to act in their place if they are incapacitated? How about a living will and a healthcare power of attorney?
• Do they have long-term care insurance that can help pay for their care later in life? It’s good to know what your financial responsibility might be in the future if they haven’t made any long-term care plans. Many plans pay for in-home care, so it’s good to read the policy to see what it covers.
• Are their IRA beneficiary designations up to date? Keep in mind that beneficiary designation forms override the will for IRA accounts. Additionally, there are critical tax consequences when IRA accounts are passed to the next generation without properly completed beneficiary forms.
• Do you know where their investments and life insurance or long-term care insurance policies are? I have witnessed first-hand how hard it will be for you – as the adult child financial caregiver – if you have to search for this information.
• Are accounts titled in such a way that the will would be circumvented? For instance, if your mom has a joint bank account with your sister, your sister will own the entire account at your mom’s passing, no matter what the will says.

Talking about money with your parents can be tough, but who knows? They might be waiting for you to start the conversation. If you need help managing a financial transition in your life, give me a call. I can help make the complex decisions easier.

Marsh Wealth Management, LLC
Fiduciary Registered Investment Advisor
504 Ebenezer Road
Knoxville, TN 37923

Financial Planning & Investment Advisory Services are offered through Marsh Wealth Management, LLC (“MWM”), an independent investment advisor registered with the state of Tennessee. Yvonne Marsh is an Investment Advisor Representative of MWM in the state of Tennessee. Marsh Professional Group, LLC is a TN registered public accounting firm and a separate legal entity from MWM. For a detailed discussion of MWM and their investment advisory fees, see the firm’s Form ADV on file with the SEC at

Posted in ResourcesComments (0)

Fleenor Security Systems

Keep Your Home Safe and Secure This Holiday Season

Whether you’re home for the holidays or setting off on a well-deserved family vacation, the security of your home is of top importance. Join Fleenor Security as we go through helpful tips to keep your home safe and secure this holiday season!

Holiday shopping early this year? Be sure to keep it under wraps! Setting out perfectly wrapped gifts under the tree may be all too tempting for an optimistic thief. At the same time, leaving empty boxes from large purchases outside on the curb could also let a burglar know that your home might be worth the risk. Be sure to break down all boxes before setting them outside and keep gifts in a location that is not easily seen from the outside.

If you are planning on traveling during the holiday season, be sure to tell a trusted neighbor that you’ll be away. Ask them if they can check on your property, take your mail and packages inside your home, and even park a car in your driveway. A build-up of mail is a tell-tale sign for a burglar that the house may be empty. So, better yet, it is always a good idea to contact your local post office to ask to put a hold on your mail while you are away.

Be sure to keep your travel plans off all social media sites. Even if your followers consist of close friends and family, it is never a good idea to broadcast that you will be away from your home for an extended period. Instead, save the fun-filled family pictures for when you return!

Consider investing in a home security system. A home security system with smart home automation allows you to remain connected to your property. With a mobile app, you can control your system directly from your smartphone. You can turn lights on and off, ensure all doors are locked, and even set your thermostat to take advantage of energy savings. You’ll likewise get a notification right on your phone if a sensor is triggered. A home security system can bring you peace of mind that your home is safe and secure while you’re out of town or just out doing some holiday shopping.

Fleenor Security Systems
6700 Baum Drive, Suite 22
Knoxville, TN 37919
TN C-0239 VA 11-1901 NC 1721-CSA

Posted in ResourcesComments (0)

The Lunchbox

Holiday Help from The Lunchbox!

Fresh, delicious pies & baked goods
Take & bake meals
Holiday side dishes

The Lunchbox is more than your one-stop shop for delicious homestyle, quality lunches and catering options. We also offer some of the best pies and baked goods in town!

Local favorites include Chocolate Chess, Pecan, Lemon Chess, Chocolate Peanut Butter pies, and more! Pick up our Knoxville-famous pumpkin muffins for brunch, a take & bake meal to heat and serve fresh when time is tight, and enjoy our fresh-made pies and cakes throughout the holidays.

If you are new to The Lunchbox, we are celebrating 40 years serving Knoxville. What keeps customers coming back is simple – “The formula hasn’t changed.” We stay true to founder Karen Sproles’ recipes, which continue to be the heartbeat and foundation of The Lunchbox. The signature chicken salad, soups, fresh sandwiches, and ready-to-go desserts have always been a major draw. Our downtown Market Manager, Josephine, has been with The Lunchbox for too many years to count and has been making these “tried and true” recipes from scratch for more than 20 years. Rhonda, our Market Manager at The Atrium, has taken customer service to the next level, greeting customers daily with smiles and gratitude. We continue to offer homestyle, quality foods that people keep coming back to, and our mission is to stay consistent in honoring The Lunchbox legacy.

Daily menu specials include our fresh made sandwiches and wraps, pimento cheese, chicken enchiladas, pumpkin muffins, chicken gumbo, Italian cream cake, box lunches with a side and dessert, and Knoxville’s favorite chicken salad.

Our Bearden location also offers take & bake meals – family meals made from scratch, served fresh from your oven. Call 24 hours in advance and Sally will have your order ready to go!

Expect friendly, efficient service and the favorites Knoxville has loved for 40 years without sacrificing time and nutrition. Come see us at The Lunchbox!

5005 Kingston Pike

607 Market Street

Atrium Office Park
1225 Weisgarber Road

Posted in DiningComments (0)