Andrea Crawford knows historic houses aren’t for everyone—but they will always have her heart. “Old houses have so much character,” the interior designer says. “The first time my husband, Brad, and I walked through this house, it was just so charming … we knew it was the one.” The Tudor cottage she’s referring to, built in 1926 in one of Macon, GA’s quaint in-town neighborhoods, had been sitting empty since the ’70s, so it needed a lot of work. “My husband at first was skeptical, but we could see the potential and love a good challenge,” Andrea says. The owner of Couture House Interiors shares her story.
StyleBlueprint: How did you get interested in design?
Andrea: I’ve always been creative and even loved going in model homes from a young age. My parents built a new house when I was in the sixth grade, and my mom hired an interior designer. There was something about watching that process that just clicked with me! I thought the designer was brilliant, and I loved watching her work with my mother. I knew then that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I have never wavered.
SB: What is your background?
Andrea: Although I know there are plenty of amazing designers out there who don’t have any formal design education, I felt it was important for me to build a foundation for my career by getting an education in interior design. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s in furnishings and interiors. I did an internship for a design firm in London, which was an amazing experience, and then I worked for several design firms in the Atlanta area before moving to Macon and going into business for myself.
SB: What did you and Brad do, remodeling-wise, to this 1920s house?
Andrea: The kitchen and master bath were definitely the most involved areas of our remodel. I had to completely rework both spaces, moving walls and taking both areas down to the studs. All of the utilities were replaced (plumbing, wiring and HVAC), plus we added a lot of lighting through the house, restored the home’s original hardwood floors, repaired a lot of plaster walls and painted EVERY INCH of the house! We wanted to update the house with modern amenities, but it was important to maintain as much of the home’s original charm as possible. We achieved this by keeping the original floors, plaster walls, molding, doors/hardware, windows, interior shutters and even some of the original light fixtures.
SB: What are some “quick fixes” people with older houses can do?
Andrea: PAINT! This is my answer for a quick fix in any home; a fresh coat of paint in the right color can completely change the feel of a space.
SB: What did you do in the living room to keep its charm?
Andrea: I love the large bank of windows; the house is flooded with light all day. The arched front door is my favorite architectural feature in the entire house. You just don’t see doors like this anymore. I have an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories throughout the house, most of which was either handed down to me or something I picked up at a sample sale. In the living room, I’ve combined a Baker sofa, Ethan Allen chaise lounge and chairs, vintage Lucite lamp and a Hertz rug. I love the simple drapery hardware, which is made from pipes — compliments of my husband, the pipe salesman. I enjoy using the pipe as my drapery rods because it tells a story about us.
SB: How do you use the sunroom?
Andrea: This room was originally an open porch, and was enclosed in the ’70s with large windows at each end. Because it’s full of natural light, it’s the perfect room for my office. My design assistant and I sit at the comfy banquette from Ballard Designs and spread our samples out on the table. The oak claw-foot table was the first piece of furniture my parents purchased when they were newly married. I grew up eating meals and doing my homework on this table, so it seems fitting for me to be working at it now. I’m pretty sentimental about those kind of things. I gave it a face-lift with a few coats of high gloss lacquer paint in Bermuda Turquoise by Benjamin Moore, and I absolutely adore it. The abstract painting is by Macon artist Joe Adams.
SB: What did you do to remodel the kitchen?
Andrea: The kitchen was a mess when we bought the house, so it was gutted completely. We put in all new, traditional, raised-panel cabinets in classic white dove, and gave it a sleek, updated twist with gray quartz countertops. I designed a custom brick arch hood over the range to create a focal point that gave the feel of an old fireplace in the kitchen. My husband fell in love with the Elkay hammered copper farm sink early in the design process, and since I felt it fit the character of the house, we really planned the entire kitchen around the sink. The antique butcher block belonged to my great aunt, and was in my parents’ kitchen when I was growing up. A few coats of magnetic chalk board paint transformed simple, flat, bifold doors into a fun facade to hide the washer and dryer.
SB: How do you use the sitting area off the kitchen?
Andrea: I felt a comfortable sitting area in the kitchen was a better use of space than a table for two. I start my day here every morning drinking coffee as I check email. My husband is a great cook, so we often find friends and family sitting in this cozy seating area while he prepares us a fantastic meal.
SB: What is the story behind that pink dresser off the kitchen?
Andrea: The pink dresser was passed down to us by my husband’s grandmother. I loved the classic lines, but the veneer was in pretty bad shape, so I covered it with high gloss cranberry paint to give it new life, and I love the pop of color in our hallway!
SB: How did you create your master bedroom?
Andrea: My senses are stimulated all day with the color and pattern I use for my clients’ projects, so I wanted a soft, calm bedroom to lay my head on at night. But even though our master bedroom is pretty neutral, the blue ceiling provides an unexpected pop of color that ties in with the chandelier in our master bath. I used a vintage door from an old school building in Macon on a sliding track to separate our bathroom. This is a huge space saver, allowing room for our king-size bed.
SB: Tell us about that fabulous master bath … a lot of style in a small space!
Andrea: The master bath was by far my biggest challenge in remodeling this house! The original bathroom was only one-third of the space you see in these photos, so I had to get creative to fit in everything I wanted. Staying true to the original footprint of the house, I combined the original bathroom with two small closets to create the finished space. The reclaimed door on a simple rail system adds interest and conserves space in both the bathroom and the bedroom. I tilted the uppermost mirrors forward to accommodate for the height of the chair rail, and add a sense of depth to the room. This historical hanging style also gives a nod to the age of the house. I refashioned the chandelier to fit the decor by spray painting the frame and adding natural coral & gold beads for added detail. The floor mirror behind the tub provides an added sense of depth in the narrow space.
Framed shopping bags from a few of my favorite stores and a piece of pop art that I painted in my college art class provide a pop of color on the wall in the toilet area. Black-and-white mosaic tile floors are similar to the original hex tiles that had to be removed to expand the bathroom.
SB: Are you now happily settled into this new/old house?
Andrea: We fell in love with our quaint little cottage immediately, but I never dreamed I could love a neighborhood so much! When you drive through the entrance, it’s truly like you’ve stepped back in time. The mailman still walks around the neighborhood and slips our mail through the slot in the front door. Neighbors gather in the street after work to chit-chat while the dogs and children play. We have a standing date for a weekly porch party, and neighbors still come to borrow a cup of milk or sugar. The entire neighborhood is more charming than I could have ever imagined!