The dilemma is familiar in the decorating world: how does a young family incorporate antiques into a home while still keeping the look youthful and fresh? In this Columbus, GA, home, interior designer Chenault James understood … it’s all about old and new—and taking a few risks. She’s a fan of every room having a unique item or two, and details not seen everywhere, tenets she pursued for this Columbus house. Chenault is quick to praise her clients who get it, saying, “This project is a success in my book, because the homeowner was up for taking the time to gather one-of-a-kind pieces rather than just ordering things to get it done.”
Incorporating color through fabrics, rugs and art is one way to balance antiques. In the dining room, for instance, a mahogany table is the centerpiece—as is true in many such rooms in the South. To complement its classic lines, the designer and the homeowner found a lively print wallpaper in taupe by Quadrille. She then layered in lush, coral velvet draperies and Lucite hardware. A soft bit of blue appears in the chair fabric, as well as on the Swedish demilune from A. Tyner in Atlanta.
The foyer also wears rich colors well. Framed bird prints—a traditional approach to art—are offset by an aqua grass cloth wallpaper and turquoise custom light fixture. A pop of yellow comes from a wooden bench. “We didn’t want to do the typical chest with a mirror over it, so we were determined to find the perfect bench,” Chenault says.
An antique trestle table in the breakfast room anchors the banquette area, freshened up with new navy and yellow pillows, (wisely covered in outdoor fabric for durability) and abstract art.
Elsewhere in the house, colors are more muted. “The homeowner loves color like I do, but we wanted to keep the master bedroom soft and serene,” Chenault explains. “The painting by Erin Gregory was all we needed to give us that punch of color we can’t live without, and the Swedish grays and blues for furnishings felt right for soothing color and relaxed style.” Light blue shutters from Europe add a bit of history to the room. As an unexpected touch, a love seat wears pink front and center, offering a place to sit and a nice focal point.
The adjacent master bath was remodeled as part of the process, and includes similar grays and whites as the bedroom. “The master bath is classic, but modern, with the silver patterned wallpaper, gray cabinets and arabesque-shaped floor tile,” the designer explains. As a fortunate collaboration, her husband, Ed James, owns a woodworking company, Hammerhead Carpentry, that designed the cabinetry and added special details.
Although Chenault shares a love for design with her husband, her maternal family is in a whole different business as multigeneration owners of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, based out of Louisville, KY. After earning her degree from the University of Kentucky and years spent in another career, as well as the family business, Chenault took the leap to interior design when she moved to Columbus and eventually started her own firm. Named one of Traditional Home magazine’s New Trads for 2015, she has obviously found her calling.
“I hope that I give my clients the extra push they need to let their individuality shine through in their home,” says Chenault. “It takes extra time and effort to incorporate unique finds and not just order everything for a project out of a box, but the end result is always more successful.”
Photography: Emily Followill
Interior design: Chenault James Interiors
Custom cabinetry: Hammerhead Carpentry