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While there are so many new home builds popping up around Nashville, there are still plenty of historic Nashville homes that remain intact, lending charm and character to the city’s architectural narrative. One particular historic home in Nashville’s Belmont neighborhood is a role model for remarkable renovation, introducing a daring contemporary addition and interior design that beautifully marries historic elements with modern aesthetics. In need of more family space, the homeowners approached Sara Ray Interior Design to create plans for a large renovation and addition, including a new kitchen, secondary bathrooms, powder room, mudroom, and wet bar, as well as selections for all fixtures, finishes, furniture, and décor throughout the existing home and its new addition.

The interior design team worked closely with Allard Ward Architects to blend new areas with the traditional and original style of the American foursquare home, retaining historic charm while injecting present-day design. The three-year project of reimagining this 1906-built home was a labor of love, and the results are breathtaking. “The family loves this home, and that is evident,” Sara Ray says of her clients who took special attention to respect their home’s history. “There was a sensitivity to maintaining the integrity of the home and honoring the existing space while introducing an addition and new design.”

historic nashville home

This home, which was built in 1906 recently underwent a breathtaking renovation that earned it a Metro Historical Commission Preservation Award for its redesign that made it more compelling and more livable.

Charged with giving the home a welcoming aesthetic, Sara Ray tied the original structure of the house with Allard Ward’s two-story addition by delivering a design that celebrates both the old and new. “The goal was to make the home feel more updated through furnishings, color and finishes while respecting the original design of the house and creating a nice flow with the addition,” she says.

The overall design blends the traditional style of the home with a more of-the-moment
aesthetic by mixing older materials with new & antique furnishings, rugs, pillows and paint colors that all work together for an overall cohesive concept. The designer incorporated rich color in the sitting room and dining room, which are located off the main foyer and are identical in size, to maintain a traditional formality. The dining room received a generous coat of moody blue paint on the walls, molding and ceiling to make the existing wood trim and the client’s furniture stand out. “This room is a strong pop of color at the front of the home,” Sara Ray shares.

historic nashville home

Both spaces received an extensive renovation, including a stunning coat of paint in deep colors that complement the original hardwoods and rich hues of the family’s antique furniture.

historic nashville home

A recessed built-in is nestled in the corner of the dining room to create storage, and its vintage-inspired latch knobs tie the room back to its historical setting.

historic nashville home

In the formal sitting room, Sara Ray modernized a traditional tufted sofa with a navy mohair fabric and painted the walls in sage green. “The deep blues of the sofa and pillows and green walls are pulled together in the hues of the vintage rug, and the room is arranged around the original fireplace for an intimate gathering space,” she explains.

historic nashville home

The large rooms and foyer made it easier to incorporate a modern addition without having to rework the entire layout. Framed chinoiserie wallpaper panels hang in the foyer as statement pieces to admire as you enter the home.

Reimagining historic residences to meet the demands of modern life while sustaining original character is a point of passion for architects Michael Ward and Tyler LeMarinel, who respect the integrity of the homes they renovate. It is that passion, paired with the homeowners’ fondness of the original design of the home, that directed the addition. The addition comprises a finished basement, first-floor living room, bathrooms, and dropzone, a second-floor playroom with a bathroom and laundry room, and a terrace overlooking the backyard to increase livable square footage. Additionally, the closed-off kitchen was relocated and now opens to the spacious living room, and a guest suite sits in the space that was previously occupied by the kitchen.

Dark charcoal cabinetry on the center island grounds the fresh, white kitchen, and floral stools and a vintage rug “provide the room with a bit of colorful interest and pattern,” as Sara Ray explains. The design applied to the back of the home starts with neutral backdrops and pops of color in art and fabrics. New and vintage furniture, bright colors and modern art live atop a palette of warm neutrals in the family room, and new elements, including a built-in bench seat and fireplace mantel, were designed to be seamless in the old home (even though the family room is part of the brand-new addition).

historic nashville home

The window was the biggest challenge in the kitchen. Because of the home’s stone structure and thick walls, it could not be relocated. Therefore, the layout centers around the window.

historic nashville home

Another challenge in old homes is the time and effort it takes to match trim styles and millwork. Here, custom trim was added to match what is original to the home. In this home, it was worth the effort to make every detail perfect.

historic nashville home

“The family room evokes a warm feeling that encourages everyone to gather together,” says Sara Ray. “The beautiful colors in the vintage rug inspired the colors used in the pillows and the leather on the stools.”

historic nashville home

Modern art by Angela Simeone hangs above an antique console in the living room — a clear example of Sara Ray’s ability to artfully juxtapose old and new.

historic nashville home

Tucked behind the family room, a wet bar is marked by its blue cabinetry with wire mesh detail, custom wood countertop and brass hardware. The wood countertop was made with salvaged American Beech studs pulled from the demolition of one of the original walls of the home— another special detail!

historic nashville home

“Evidence of the homeowner’s love for the house is found in the smallest details,” Sara Ray says. Hanging between the wet bar and dropzone, newspaper articles uncovered within the walls of the home and a tag (that perhaps belonged to a cow) found in the backyard celebrate the history of the home.

historic nashville home

Antique pieces belonging to the homeowners were easily incorporated into the design. The powder bathroom boasts a colorful floral wallpaper, which is a modern backdrop to the vintage vanity cabinet and mirror.

Sara Ray did not overlook the bedrooms and basement — she selected rugs, bedding, draperies and accent furniture while taking cues from the design implemented downstairs. “The master bathroom features classic elements like a vintage vanity cabinet and clawfoot tub, and vintage rugs soften the polished chrome,” says the designer. In the basement-level game room and music room, she brought vintage rugs to add richness to the warm browns in the leather sofa and pool table. She also notes the custom framing of the client’s collection of vintage sheet music “that elevates the piano area and ties a personal element into the new addition.”

historic nashville home

In addition to a new look, the master bedroom received new closet access through the master bathroom (as well as the new laundry room).

historic nashville home

Fireplaces throughout the home were thoughtfully handled and restored. In the master bedroom, the fireplace warms the room and enhances its historic charm.

historic nashville home

Again, antique furnishings and modern finishes come together to create a cohesive design that respects the history of the home.

historic nashville home

Sara Ray encouraged the kids to be part of the design process by asking their preferences in color and style, creating mood boards for them and offering different selection options.

historic nashville home

“The daughter’s bathroom was designed to grow with her,” explains Sara Ray. “We selected a sophisticated shade of pink for the vanity and marble tile throughout. Brass accents and geode cabinet hardware make the room a place for her to enjoy as her own.”

historic nashville home

The basement is a combination of a game room and a music room. Note the vintage sheet music that hangs above the piano.

According to Michael Ward, “The family had completed many renovations over the years, and they were particularly interested in preserving the house and taking care that all the details were just right. The home has fine construction, has been incrementally updated over the past 15 years, and is well taken care of. We provided an addition while restoring components of the house, but this was not a tear-it-apart and throw-it-away project.” A well-maintained historic home isn’t something discovered every day in Nashville, which makes a home such as this one sacred. “We hope our work respects the integrity of the home, and it is quite an honor to work with so many neat people on these projects,” Michael continues.

For Sara Ray, it is the character and attention to detail uncovered in historic homes that make her work rewarding. “In most new builds, there is not the same level of craftsmanship, and from an interior design standpoint, it is intriguing to think through how a client is going to use the space and how it can function beautifully for the homeowner, says Sara Ray. “It was such an honor for these homeowners to trust us to help bring their vision to life – a historic house, extensively restored, with the updated aspects of a modern home. We were proud to be a part of this project and to be commended by the Metropolitan Historical Commission with the Preservation Award. After working on this home for over three years, it’s been fulfilling to see the family settling in and enjoying life in their “new” old house!”

historic nashville home

Careful attention was given to the exterior of the house. A fresh coat of paint enhances the historic façade and helps it blend naturally with the addition.

To learn more about Sara Ray Interior Design, visit sararayinteriordesign.com.

This article is sponsored by Sara Ray Interior Design. The beautiful photos were taken by Gieves Anderson.

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