Whitland Avenue continues to be one of the most revered streets in Nashville, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are the neighbors an eclectic bunch — from a notable author, sports coach, English professor and Rabbi among the many others — but it’s also a street where the neighbors have a certain je ne sais quoi and are genuinely good to each other. With its canopy of trees and glorious vistas, the changing seasons are as pretty as the homes. Neighbors mobilized some years back to place a historic overlay on the street, ensuring that Whitland Avenue remains, as it has been for many years, a truly quintessential Norman Rockwell-type street.
When crafting this article, I began by describing Carole and John Sergent’s house as a grand old Southern home, but they quickly had this to say: “We actually prefer to think of it as a comfortable old Southern home.”
The Sergents are generous hosts and take their role of introducing newcomers to town seriously by throwing the best parties ever. The recent addition of the rear screened-in porch created optimum party flow for their guests. What is immediately obvious when you take a tour of their home is the Sergent’s love of local art. At every turn, you’ll see a piece by Red Grooms, Herb Williams or Paul Harmon. Their collection has meaning, each piece representing an important date or celebration in their lives.
The couple is most excited about the recent upgrades to the interior, which was orchestrated by the talented Kathryn Berschback of Berschback Design. She incorporated a sense of freshness to the existing decor by updating the color palette and adding her magical touches everywhere.
Truly a gathering place for family and friends, this classical dining room is anchored by an early American sideboard circa 1815 from either Baltimore or Philadelphia with a Victorian mirror circa 1890. Both Carole and John understand how antiques add depth and texture to the decor. The American Chippendale swing-leg drop-leaf table is from the Delaware Valley. The painting, Books and Music to the left of the window is by artist Joan Griswold and is a replica of the view looking into the Sergent’s library.
Here is the actual space depicted in Griswold’s painting.
This lovely table setting includes sterling mint juleps that have been collected over the years and Carole’s mother’s crystal (by Fostoria) and linens. The silverware dates back to when John and Carole married. Carole has a couple of dinner party hints to share: spouses should sit apart, and place cards are a must.
The wooden sculpture in the corner was carved from one piece of wood by beloved Nashville artist Bruce Peebles. Bruce, who found inspiration from his early years in Zimbabwe, succumbed to cancer in 2016. The modern sculpture is a wonderful complement to the classic Chippendale table and Imari oriental bowl.
Herb Williams created his take on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” – one of the couple’s absolute favorites. An interesting fact is that John gives lectures on the works of Van Gogh as a hobby of sorts. If you don’t know Herb’s work, he creates all of his sculptures and paintings from Crayola crayons.
A full view of the living room shows how this light-filled space is both comfortable and welcoming. The lovely New England Cherry Hepplewhite chest was purchased from Sandra Polk of Polk Place Antiques. Note the lithographs by Red Grooms on both sides of the window. The gorgeous chartreuse glass sculpture by Chihuly adds a nice pop of color.
It is hard to miss the art over the sofa that was created by Herb Williams. It is a two-dimensional reconstruction of John’s life. The interior design is by David White of Erwin and White.
The den is a comfortable place to converse and enjoy family gatherings. Notable is the painting over the mantle by Red Grooms titled “The Truck.” It has sentimental value as it is the first work of art by Red Grooms purchased by the couple. In front of the fireplace is an English mahogany gun box on a stand.
Kathryn Berschback is a recent graduate of O’More College of Design, and as you can see, she loves to combine subtle and bold colors to create an interesting look. When asked to share her design philosophy, Kathryn reflects, “I like to approach each design project with an understanding and respect for the individual client and the way in which they desire to live in their home. With a modern eye and attention to detail, I work to create beautiful, elevated spaces. Each project is unique, and I strive to deliver fresh and timeless designs that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
This bedroom, with its subtle hues of pale greens and the intense blue accents, offers a wonderful contrast. The green grasscloth wallpaper by Phillip Jeffries creates texture and interest in this quaint bedroom. The bedding is Matouk, the pillows are Sister Parish fabric, and the bed skirt and the headboard are Lee Jofa fabric. The bedside tables are from Chelsea Textiles. The small chair with a green velvet cushion was found at a Paris flea market. The beautiful flowers in the upstairs bedrooms are by Flowers by Memma.
This beautiful bench is the perfect place to soak in the natural light that floods the bedroom. The bench is Noir upholstered in a Sister Parish fabric. The pillows are a blue velvet fabric by Soliloquy trimmed in Samuel and Sons. The brass sconces are by Jonathan Adler. The acrylic table is vintage.
The lovely 19th century chest is a Georgian mahogany bow front chest from England, and the botanical prints are artfully framed by Blue Door Framing.
To make it easy, the bedrooms were labeled the blue room and the green room. In the blue room, the etchings by James Coignard frame the corner and provide contrast to the white walls. Upon a closer look, the etchings are a series of collages with some details hand-painted by the artist. The bedding is by Matouk with a throw from Peacock Alley. The daybed was ordered from Ballard Designs and covered in a Pindler fabric. Another Paris flea market find is the green tole lamp and nest of tables beside the bed. Kathyrn used a Schumacher fabric for the Roman shades, and the bed pillow is Romo trimmed in Pindler.
Weaving in the green hues from the bedroom into the bathroom adds continuity. The mirror is by Regina Andrew, the wallpaper by Zoffany, the sconces by Visual Comfort and the fabric on the sink skirt and shower curtain is by Fabricut. We love the pop of blue found in the monogrammed towel.
Nashville’s weather lends itself to screened-in porches as they can be used from March through the end of October, and Carole and John’s porch is perfect for a family gathering or to grab a moment with your favorite book. Adding the inside grill is a brilliant idea as the party can begin and end on the porch, allowing the hostess to enjoy the evening.
In the South, we adore everything about summer — the peaches, tomatoes and fresh corn. We can’t think of a better place to entertain than this lovely porch to celebrate the joys of summer.
The floor was designed by Marcella Zimmerman, a dear friend of Carole’s. It took almost 10 years for Marcella to convince Carole that the floor would be the focal point of the porch. The overall decor was done by Kathryn Berschback of Berschback Design. The wicker furniture and outdoor rug were purchased at Summer Classics. The coffee table is from Gabby.
Christopher Munn, a classmate of Kathryn’s at O’More, designed and built the walnut swing. It’s the perfect place to stretch out and nap on a lazy summer day. The Red Grooms poster on the wall, signed by the artist, is a portrayal of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Here’s a closer view of this versatile swing that was designed and built by Christopher Munn. The fabric on the pillows is a Pindler outdoor fabric, created by Natalie Howald from Dandelion Interiors.
Carole selected her mother’s monogrammed linens for this pretty table setting. They were produced in the 1950s from Moseley’s of Detroit. Antique coffee pots, crisp white china and vintage silverware create a beautiful look. The flowers are from The Tulip Tree. Of course, the strawberries are homegrown in Tennessee.
Thank you to John and Carole Sergent for opening up your home to us. Kathryn Berschback’s design talents go without saying, as she is truly gifted when it comes to creating color palettes that delight the eye and living spaces that are both versatile and comfortable! And many thanks to Caroline Sharpnack for capturing the beauty of this comfortable Southern home!
For more information on Berschback Design, reach Kathryn Berschback by phone (615) 578-2888 or email.
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