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Nashville Home with Pretty Color and Pattern

A Nashville native turns a favorite house from her childhood into the home of her family’s dreams 

Written and produced by Tori Mellott
  • Emily Followill

    Bunny Blackburn was infatuated. She had been for decades, actually—with a Georgian Revival house in her hometown. “Growing up in Nashville, I had driven by this house for years and just loved it,” Bunny says. “One night my husband, Mike, came home from work and said, ‘Well, your favorite house is finally on the market.’                     

    Outside, the 1926 home projects formal Georgian Revival style.

    Photography: Emily Followill

    Interior designer: Sarah Bartholomew, Sarah Bartholomew Design, Nashville; 615/429-4007;

  • Emily Followill

    Beautiful Foyer

    “When Mike and I walked through the front door, we were completely in love,” Bunny says. “But by the time we went out the back door, Mike had turned green. He was absolutely sick because he knew I was head over heels, but the house needed a lot of work.”

    That’s when Mike and Bunny’s brave resolve kicked in. In 1999, the couple bought the 1926 house, which had been home to one family through all the previous years. The Blackburns hired an architect to add a kitchen and laundry room. Replicating original moldings and using restoration glass in custom windows flawlessly blended the new with the old. The groundwork was laid for Bunny’s dream house.

    To soften the formal look of the entryway’s yellow damask wallpaper, Bartholomew mixed in more casual fabrics, including Quadrille’s “Veneto” fabric in Venice Blue, which covers the center hall table. Fresh yellows and blues thread throughout the palette of the entire home.

    Wallpaper “Bird and Thistle” in Aqua: Brunschwig & Fils;
    Table-skirt fabric “Veneto Venice” in Blue on Tinted Linen: Quadrille;
    Table-skirt tape “French Grosgrain Ribbon” in Sunflower: Samuel & Sons;

  • Emily Followill

    Artfully Arranged

    It wasn’t until 2015, however, that Bunny got serious about redecorating, teaming up with friend and up-and-coming Nashville designer Sarah Bartholomew.  

    Bunny favored starting small—tackling one room, then another.  Bartholomew, though, saw the big picture. “The front of the house and the back of the house look like two totally different houses,” the designer told Bunny. “We need to meld them together.” 

    Bartholomew rearranged the Blackburns’ art collection, hanging it salon-style along the stairway. 

    White-framed mirror on far wall “Grand Acanthus Chippendale Mirror”: Carvers’ Guild;
    Plates around mirror: homeowners’ collection.

  • Emily Followill

    Pattern Play

    Again, Bunny found her brave. “We just had to rip off the Band-Aid,” she says. That’s when Project Dream House got real. 

    More than anything, Bartholomew wanted the house to reflect her friend’s personality. “She has such great style and such a strong point of view, which gave me a solid launching pad to create something special,” the designer says.  

    Bartholomew artfully mixed feminine florals with graphic patterns, outfitting the windows in Brunschwig & Fils “Chevron Bar” and dotting the sofas with pillows made from Raoul Textiles “Secret Garden” fabric.

  • Emily Followill

    Lovely Living Room

    Sorting through Bunny’s many collections—a veritable treasure chest of porcelain, silver, majolica, and baskets—Bartholomew discovered a set of 19th-century porcelain dishes that inspired a color palette that’s as pretty as a spring day. “The plates have all of the hues Bunny loves—peony pink, daffodil yellow, spring green, and sky blue,” Bartholomew says. “They’re all very clear colors that suit Bunny. If something has even a touch of gray, it feels too muddy for her.” 

    Two “Catherine” sofas from Century Furniture flank a fireplace that’s painted, along with the walls, in Benjamin Moore’s “Simply White.” The mantel is lined with homeowner Bunny Blackburn’s collection of blue-and-white Chinese porcelain vases and jars. Designer Sarah Bartholomew added a touch of airiness with an acrylic cocktail table from Interlude Home. The wicker highboy is vintage Ralph Lauren for Henredon; the rattan chair is also a vintage find. 

    Sofas “Catherine Sofa”: Century Furniture;
    Sofa fabric “Utopia Cane”: Rogers & Goffigon;
    Drapery and matching pillow fabric “Chevron Bar Silk Warp Print” in Leaf: Brunschwig & Fils;
    Cocktail table “Ava Cocktail Table”: Interlude Home;
    Gold pillow fabric “Rocky Velvet”: Schumacher;
    Floral pillow fabric “Secret Garden”: Raoul;
    Floor lamp “Carey Floor Lamp” by Suzanne Kasler for Visual Comfort: Circa Lighting;
    Wicker highboy vintage by Ralph Lauren: Henredon;
    Woven chair beside floor lamp “Raffia Scallop Slipper Chair”: Oomph;
    Fabric for vintage rattan chair: Holland & Sherry;
    Wall paint “Simply White,” ceiling paint “Opalescence”:  Benjamin Moore;
    Sisal rug: Fibreworks;

  • Emily Followill

    Fresh Kitchen

    Quiet blues on upholstery and the Coleen & Company scalloped hanging lanterns dot the all-white kitchen.

    Lanterns “The Scalloped Lantern” in custom color: Coleen & Co.;
    Wallpaper “Dolly” in Lettuce Green: Sister Parish;

  • Emily Followill

    Breakfast Room

    The fresh palette brings new life to the stately home. Entering through the front door is like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when grainy black-and-white changes to dreamy Technicolor. It splashes onto walls, draperies, pillows, and furniture, which Bartholomew also carefully helped Bunny refresh.  “I had pieces that I loved and I didn’t want to lose,” Bunny says. “It was a little bit hard to describe what I wanted, but Sarah was able to take the pieces I was really attached to and update them. There are very few new pieces. She would reupholster a chair, move a chest from one spot to another, or take an old piece and repaint it.” 

    The springy palette continues in the breakfast room where verdant green dining chairs pull up to a rustic table. 

  • Emily Followill

    Formal Dining Room

    Bartholomew revived pieces such as Bunny’s spider-back Hepplewhite-inspired dining chairs while she scrapped less favorite items. She brought in light, modern touches including a Lucite coffee table and abstract art. She also sifted through and reassembled Bunny’s collections, many of which had been sequestered in cupboards. Now the sentimental beauties are artfully placed throughout the house. 

    The Brunschwig & Fils “Bird and Thistle” wallpaper in blue plays nicely with apple green velvet on Hepplewhite-inspired dining chairs. Delicate paper flowers from The Green Vase pop against a grouping of contemporary pieces, A Color Study, by Janet Porcher Gregg.

    Wallpaper “Bird and Thistle” in Aqua: Brunschwig & Fils;
    Drapery and Roman shade fabric “Score Birch”: Norbar Fabrics;
    Chair-seat fabric “Olympia” in Aloe from the Velours collection: Clarence House;
    Framed artwork “Color Study Series”: Janet Porcher Gregg;
    Paper geraniums on mantel: The Green Vase;
    Sisal rug: Fibreworks;

  • Emily Followill

    Tactile Study

    Together, the changes create just the mood—and the house—Bunny dreamed of all those years, a place that welcomes both formal entertaining and the everyday life of an energetic, fun-loving family of six. 

    Fresh greens in art and upholstery bring energy to Mike’s favorite retreat. 

    Framed artwork: Kayce Hughes;
    Sofa “Danvers Sofa”: Charles Stewart Furniture Co.;
    Sofa fabric “Versailles Velvet”: Kravet;
    Front pillow fabric “Bali Hai” by China Seas: Quadrille;
    Fabric for pillow with small print “Tamar” on Natural: Carolina Irving;
    Coffee table “Casablanca Coffee Table” by Palecek: Tuvalu;
    Oriental rug: King’s House;

  • Emily Followill

    Sunny Workspace

    Yellow wallpaper wraps this work space in cheer. Black-and-white cheetah print fabric is paired with green trim on a skirted chair and green legs on a coordinating stool. 

  • Emily Followill

    Lively Hall  

    Wallpaper, including “Zig Zag” from Quadrille, was used in hallways to connect the home’s common spaces. 

    Wallpaper “Zig Zag” in Leaf on Tint: Quadrille;
    Table “Seagrass Console Table”: Made Goods;

  • Emily Followill

    Cutting Room

    Bunny loves spending time in this colorful nook, where she prepares lavish flower arrangements for the dinner parties and fund-raising events she hosts at her home. 

    Framed print “Warnicke Spoonbill”: Natural Curiosities;

  • Emily Followill

    Cheerful Sunroom

    Bunny and son Michael lounge on the vintage Louis XV-inspired daybed covered in “Mirasol Ivy” from Aerin Lauder’s fabric line for Lee Jofa.

    Fabric for daybed “Marisol” in Ivy by Aerin Lauder: Lee Jofa;

  • Emily Followill

    Master Bedroom

    Mike and Bunny’s bedroom is a blend of classic, old-fashioned finery. A soft palette of green and blue makes it an oasis of relaxation. The Louis XVI-style bed is upholstered in “Blithfield Grenville” glazed chintz from Lee Jofa. The coverlet and shams are custom from Leontine Linens. The pillow is from D. Porthault.

    Fabric for drapery, headboard, and footboard “Greenville Glazed Chintz” by Blithfield: Lee Jofa;

  • Emily Followill

    Daughter's Room

    Blue, pink, and white set the pretty palette in this feminine bedroom.

  • Emily Followill

    Graphic Bathroom

    The Albert Hadley “Fireworks” wallpaper sets a graphic black-and-white backdrop for Clare’s bath. But warm golds in the sconces and mirror dial down the drama. 

    Wallpaper “Fireworks” by Albert Hadley: Donghia;
    Sconces “Camille Sconce” by Suzanne Kasler for Visual Comfort: Circa Lighting;
    Gilt mirror “Moroccan Mirror” in gold: Wisteria;

  • Emily Followill

    Blackburn Family

    “I’m happiest when all my kids are here, their friends are here, my four dogs are running through the house, and the front door and the back door are both open,” Bunny says. “I want it inviting. I want it pretty. I want a joyful place for my family to come home to. Ultimately, I like happy.”

    Mike and Bunny Blackburn love spending time outdoors with their children— Anne Elizabeth, Michael, Clare, and Callie—and their dogs. 

  • Emily Followill


    A charming garden path is framed by neatly trimmed boxwood hedges.

  • Amy Bartlam and Ryann Ford