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Chic Tennessee Farmhouse

Kid-friendly and peaceful go hand-in-hand for a family of six, thanks to 2014 New Trad designer Rachel Halvorson.

Written by Cathy Whitlock

Coming from the mother of four young children, the design request was perhaps unusual—a family home in “peaceful” whites, grays, and neutrals.

Such was the task that fell to Nashville designer Rachel Halvorson when she was hired to renovate the farmhouse of country music artist Johnny Reid and his wife, Jennifer. 

Located in the idyllic countryside of Franklin, Tennessee, the property was once a horse farm on land known as Tartan Fields. (Fitting, as the Scottish-born recording star’s legion of fans is known as The Tartan Army.)

The challenge was to ensure that the house (in need of an update) fit the property and its owners. “The home was just not functional for the family,” Halvorson notes. “It was a modern farmhouse with two-story ceilings and a catwalk. We tried to make it more traditional.” To do that, they greatly increased the size of the house, renovated the kitchen, and doubled the number of bedrooms from three to six. “I tried to make it feel cozy but at the same time get all the rooms they needed and work with what was there,” Halvorson says.

Designer Rachel Halvorson added a pair of linen-covered club chairs from Hickory Chair and patterned bergères from Lee Industries to the client’s existing sofa from RH. Halvorson used very few accessories and notes, “I hate to overdo and like to keep it simple, as this is a big space and little trinkets tend to disappear.”

White became the paint color of choice (the only exception is daughter Ava’s bathed-in-pink room). “Since the layout is very open, we didn’t want too many paint colors,” the designer says.

A sliding barn door and pecky cypress ceiling turn an ordinary side hallway into a stunning entrance.

To add interest, she persuaded Johnny and Jennifer to add pecky cypress to the ceilings of the dining room and the hallway off the side entry. “The challenge was to get the perfect patina,” Halvorson remembers. “I literally sat with a hair dryer and a mixture of paint and glaze to get the perfect concoction.”

A pecky cypress ceiling, linen slipper chairs from RH, and neutral curtains from Fabricut make for a serene and sophisticated space.

A bejeweled chandelier from Visual Comfort is a stark contrast to the rustic pecky cypress ceiling. 

Blue hydrangeas in a vintage silver vase are at the same time casual and stylish

An equestrian painting became the focal point and the coordinating factor of the interiors. Pale beige and gray linens, along with Italian-style damasks, form the fabric scheme in a house largely devoid of window treatments. (The Reids didn’t want the views obscured.)

With a pair of outdoor ceiling lanterns from Lantern & Scroll and two pairs of Hickory Chair stools, symmetry is the order of the day. 

Halvorson added vintage leather books to the library for a pop of color. Leather chairs with nailhead trim from Hickory Chair and a large-scale coffee table lend a masculine appeal to the space. 

Halvorson and Jennifer were simpatico from the very start as they shared Pinterest boards only to find they had chosen almost identical images. “I wanted an elegant farmhouse,” Jennifer notes, “and Rachel kept me in check.”

Pecky cypress and white wood-plank walls add interest to an  ordinary stairwell.

An Impressionistic landscape over the upholstered headboard from RH dictates the room’s serene palette. 

An open-weave fabric from Fabricut was used for the draperies in the master bedroom—one of the few rooms where the windows are covered. Leather chairs from Southeastern Salvage and a gilded table with a mirrored top make for a cozy seating area in front of the fireplace.

A collection of objets d’art lines built-in cabinets flanking the fireplace. 

The plank walls carry into the master bathroom, where a painting takes center stage over the Victoria + Albert tub.

Rachel Halvorson’s tips on creating cozy rooms:

  • Get the lighting right. Put everything on a dimmer in order to control the mood. 
  • Incorporate antiques or one-of-a-kind items, so your house doesn’t look like a showroom.
  • Collect artwork. There’s nothing that makes a home feel more lived-in and comfortable than art on the walls. 
  • Watch your scale. Comfortable furniture doesn’t have to be bulky. Go for sleek but cozy pieces. 
  • Layer textures. Don’t be afraid to mix textures in a room, especially if you have a neutral color scheme. 

Photography: Paige Rumore

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