How a Colorful New Design Revived This 1926 Nashville Home

white living room with yellow, blue, and green accents
Photo: Emily Followill

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

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1926 Georgian Revival House

georgian revival style home exterior
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.'"

"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."

Outside, the 1926 home projects formal Georgian Revival style.

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Fresh New Style

bright white, blue, and yellow foyer with open doors
Emily Followill

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.

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

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.

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Artfully Arranged

yellow wall-papered elegant stairway
Emily Followill

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."

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

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

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Patterns with Personality

white sitting room with two yellow chairs and tall curtained windows
Emily Followill

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.

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Lovely Living Room

white living room with yellow, blue, and green accents
Emily Followill

Sorting through Bunny's many collections, including 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. 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.

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Fresh White Kitchen

white naturally lit kitchen with blue accents
Emily Followill

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

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Lively Color Palette

breakfast room with patterned curtains and verdant green dining chairs
Emily Followill

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.

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Modern Touches

formal colorful dining room with ornate chairs
Emily Followill

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.

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Energetic and Fun

wooden walled study with green couch and painting
Emily Followill

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.

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Wallpapered Work Space

bright workspace with yellow patterned walls and cheetah print chair
Emily Followill

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.

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Bright Green Hallways

green zig zag wallpaper in hallway
Emily Followill

Wallpaper, including "Zig Zag" from Quadrille, was used in hallways to connect the home's common spaces.

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Colorful Flower Station

green flower arranging space with white trim
Emily Followill

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.

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Cheerful Sunroom

mother and son sitting on green couch in sunroom
Emily Followill

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.

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Classic and Relaxing Bedroom

bright patterned master bedroom
Emily Followill

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.

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Feminine Color Palette

blue, pink, and white bedroom with window
Emily Followill

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

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Dramatic Wallpaper

black and white wall-papered bathroom with pink flowers
Emily Followill

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

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Backyard Walkway

garden path framed by boxwood hedges
Emily Followill

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

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Happier Together

blackburn family posing with dog on outdoor steps
Emily Followill

"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.

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