Country Living Makeover Takeover
Singer-songwriter Holly Williams is transforming her tired farmhouse
BY LAURREN WELCH AND LAURA KOSTELNY
With two historic home renovations under her belt, Holly Williams (as in the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr., and granddaughter of Hank, Sr.) didn’t have plans to tackle a new project anytime soon. She and musician/artist husband Chris Coleman have their hands full with 18-month-old Stella June and little Lillie Mae Louise, who arrived in March. But when she stumbled upon a circa 1800s farmhouse—on Craigslist of all places!—just an hour outside her home of Nashville, she was powerless to resist clicking, and, ultimately, buying.
Holly, with the help of Country Living Style Director Page Mullins, started with the outside of the house with its dreamy double porch. But with dingy siding and no landscaping, the home lacked curb appeal.
Page painted the porch ceiling a dreamy blue (Borrowed Light by Farrow & Ball), and Holly worked with local landscape architect Anne Daigh (annedaigh.com) to add a little green.
Without seating options, the spacious double porch was underutilized. “As a songwriter, I’m very inspired by old homes—the generations of love, loss, happiness, tragedy. There are so many stories that happened behind those walls,” says Holly. “I want to preserve the simpler times and honor beautiful pieces of architecture.”
To maximize seating on the double porch, we installed pairs of swings from The Home Depot opposite one another. Four rocking chairs, plenty of patterned throw pillows, a mahogany door and black wall sconces, new upper porch spindles, and planters and shrubs up the home’s curb appeal.
After: Front Door
To refresh the tired exterior, Holly requested James Hardie (jameshardie.com) HardiePlank lap siding and HardieTrim boards in Arctic White. The crisp white planks are an eco-friendly choice that are as long-lasting as they are beautiful, thanks to their unique weather-resistant fiber cement formulation. The new front door is from The Home Depot.
“The double porch draws you in the moment you drive up,” says Holly.
Inside, the original beadboard ceiling and walls just needed a fresh coat of paint. Holly discovered the old pine floors after ripping up the carpet, but they were in rough shape. Rather than undertake a costly restoration, she chose to paint them instead.
To make the best use of the bedroom space, Page placed reader-selected Sleep Number’s Contemporary Camelback upholstered bed in Stone Linen and i8 mattress (sleepnumber.com) in front of a window. Bold draperies in Night Vine in China Blue by Diane Von Furstenberg (theshadestore.com), nickel bedside lamps (circalighting.com), a new ceiling fan (thehomedepot.com), and a tufted linen settee (pier1.com) complete the focal point.
Bedding tip: Keep it simple with white sheets (Sleep Number In Balance set, sleepnumber.com), then layer on a calming mix of color and pattern.
Before: Open Storage
Before, a corner of the bedroom served as clothing storage in the closet-less room.
After: Writing Nook
Page removed the hanging rod and replaced it with a small desk to carve out a writing nook.
An antique armoire now acts as a makeshift closet, while a weathered writing desk and artwork by Holly’s husband create a collected-over-time feel. A custom mix of bold paint on the floors—a custom Farrow & Ball blue—provides an unexpected pop of color. To brighten up the space, the beadboard ceiling and walls were painted a crisp white (Wimborne White by Farrow & Ball).
From the drapery hardware (Royal Wood Hardware by The Shade Store; theshadestore.com) and ceiling fan (rejuvenation.com) to the bedside tables (bostoninteriors.com) and mantel, ebony accents anchor the light space and add sophistication. Minimalist paintings by Holly’s husband, Chris (chriscolemanart.com), add another dramatic layer to the room. The fireplace is painted Black Blue by Farrow & Ball (farrowandball.com).
Next up, Holly and Country Living Style Director Page Mullins teamed up to take the outdated kitchen and dining roomfrom tattered to tranquil.
First, they refreshed the palette by coating the walls and trim a crisp white and installed ceramic subway tile (Lancaster Bianco; tilebar.com) for added texture. An inky black ceiling grounds the room, while patterned roman shades add hints of blue without blocking too much natural light. Holly filled the open corner shelving with treasured family heirlooms, and she replaced the old sink with an apron-front model (rohlhome.com) in front of a window that offers views of the 8-acre property.
Curtain Fabric: Baris,duralee.com. Paint: Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball (on floors); Delicate White by Porter Paints; Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams
Light gray cabinets (omegacabinetry.com) add much-needed storage, and Holly chose elegant finishes like on-trend brass hardware (homedepot.com) and faucet (rohlhome.com) and Cambria quartz countertops (Ella, cambriausa.com). The crisp, updated island is now home to a downdraft KitchenAid (kitchenaid.com) range.
Holly Williams’s Rules of Renovating
1. EMBRACE WHAT WORKS “I fell in love with the home’s old fireplace the moment I walked in. The brick is perfectly worn, and I love how it separates the room but still leaves plenty of space for flow around it.”
2. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE 15-FOOT CEILINGS “The kitchen was a visual disaster, but give me a tall ceiling, and I can work magic! I was worried about fitting an island in there, so we made a smaller one that still has room for entertaining and stirring up cookie dough.”
3. ADD A LITTLE SOUL “Family heirlooms are what make a house a home. We should preserve memories for future generations every chance we get.”
4. TAKE A FEW CHANCES! “Pink Ground from Farrow & Ball might be my favorite color of all time. It’s a very mature adult pink—not little girl at all. I got the wild idea to try it on the hardwood floors. I love the light it brings to the space.”
Wall Sconce: Sutton Collection 1-Light rust outdoor wall sconce; Front Door: Savannah 6 Lite stained mahogany wood prehung front door; both fromhomedepot.com.
Before: Dining Room
Holly and Page preserved the kitchen’s original layout, opting only to reconfigure the placement of the refrigerator and cooktop.
After: Dining Room
The dining area’s original bead-board walls were painted the same white seen in the kitchen. Rather than undertake a pricey floor restoration, Holly opted to paint the hardwoods a barely there shade of pink. Both Holly and Page loved the look of the distressed brick fireplace, so they left it alone, save for a slight update: white and gray decorative concrete tiles added to the hearth (granadatiles.com).
After: Dining Room
Inspired by the fireplace, Holly wanted honey-hued wooden accents that would provide a rich contrast to the all-white space. The open dining area feels homier, thanks to a large rustic dining table and chairs from Cost Plus World Market (worldmarket.com) that will easily seat the family of four as well as visiting loved ones. “We can pile in for a weekend and play long games of Monopoly,” Holly says. A distressed bench, chandelier, and simple wine rack (all things Holly has collected over time) further the lived-in feel, while cozy throw pillows and rugs (kingshouseorientalrugs.com) add an extra layer of femininity to the hardworking room. The art on the walls is courtesy of Holly’s grandfather. “My grandfather, Warren White, drew these in 1940. He was an incredible artist,” says Holly.
Next, Page and Holly tackled the bathroom. “I would describe the ‘before’ as bland and terrible,” Holly says. “Everything was old—and not in a charming way.”
The team gutted the room, enlarged the window, and elongated the shower, now covered with 3-by-6-inch white subway tile (Lancaster Bianco; tilebar.com), the piled on the pattern. “Holly has a gift of mixing patterns together,” says Page. Case in point: green toile wallpaper + a graphic black-and-white tile. The small scale of the playful toile doesn’t fight with the floor.
Ceiling Paint: Black Blue by Farrow & Ball. Trim: All White by Farrow & Ball. Wallpaper: Country Living Toile in Green by Spoonflower. Floor tile: Cluny by Granada Tile
A new curio cabinet provides a pretty display for towels from the Alexandra Linen Flower Collection (worldmarket.com), chosen by CL readers who voted online, and complements the vintage claw-foot bathtub, which Holly found on one of her antiques hunts.
Holly worked with Omega Cabinetry (omegacabinetry.com) to create the perfect base for the Brockway cast-iron sink and Cannock faucets (both from kohler.com). Sleek Gatco Tavern mirrors and clean-lined Sutton sconces (both from lampsplus.com) complete the space.
Once the wall came down, the space was far less choppy, and a new coat of dark paint reinforced the cohesiveness of the once-divided room. “The painters thought I was crazy to paint the ceiling, but I wanted the white bedding to really pop,” says Holly. (Camelback Upholstered beds and P5 mattresses, selected by CL readers; available at sleepnumber.com). A starburst chandelier, extra-wide nightstand, and stacked glass table lamp (all from worldmarket.com) add a modern edge to the space.
Ceiling and wall paint: Downpipe by Farrow & Ball. Floor Paint: Pavilion Gray by Farrow & Ball. Shade fabric: Laser in Champagne from King Cotton; kingcottonfabrics.com
Before: Sitting Area
A drab corner in the bedroom needed a cozy makeover.
After: Sitting Area
Although the fireplace doesn’t yet work (“It costs a fortune to fix!” Holly says), she created a warm reading nook around it with an antique French leather club chair and assorted flea market finds. Although new, the bar cart (worldmarket.com) blends right in and offers extra book storage, as well as a convenient spot to mix up a nightcap.
Holly Williams’s Country House Must-Haves
1. WALLPAPER “Some people like to watch TV or get on Facebook. I like to look at wall coverings. It’s a high-impact way to add personality to a space.”
2. A CLAW-FOOT TUB “Taking baths is my escape. I can’t wait to soak in my tub once my girls [Stella June, age 2, and Lillie Mae Louise, age 8 months] have gone to bed.”
3. SUBWAY TILE “I use it in almost all of my renovation projects: kitchens, bathrooms, you name it. Tilebar’s Lancaster tile has a worn-in, handcrafted feel to it that belies its very reasonable price tag.”
4. CANDLES “A staple at my shop White’s Mercantile, the lightly musky Forest Fir candle by Linnea’s Lights is a favorite, particularly during the holidays. It also hides the less pleasant smells that come with 100-year-old homes!”
5. GAMES “Nothing beats having friends over and playing Monopoly for hours.”
“It was dark, unpleasant, and certainly not the kind of warm welcome you’d hope for in a country retreat,” says Country Living Style Director Page Mullins of Holly’s entryway.
To wake up the walls, a coat of white paint offered a much-needed fresh start, and the floral wall covering now sets a playful tone. “The blue-and-gray color scheme keeps it from going too frilly or fussy,” says Page. The room also feels larger thanks to a gallery wall of mirrors, and a painted stair runner (Stone Blue by Farrow & Ball) reinforces the space’s 9-foot ceilings.
After: Reading Nook
Behind the stairs, new built-in seating and shelving gives Holly’s daughters, Stella June (2) and Lillie Mae Louise (7 months), a sweet nook in which to look at books.
Before: Living Room
“I wanted the whole house to be about gathering and reconnecting,” Holly says. “This room was so not about that before.”
After: Living Room
The original beadboard walls were refreshed with the same white paint used in the entry, and instead of refinishing the damaged floors, which can be costly and time-consuming, Holly chose to paint them blue. While the room is grounded in neutrals (white walls, beige sofa, wood coffee table), Holly loves pattern and color, so she selected a graphic rug and blush-colored pinch-pleat draperies, which hang from wood Lenox hardware (from theshadestore.com). Vintage artwork and signage pair well with new items like the roomy Oxford sectional sofa (roomandboard.com) and the Cameron coffee table (worldmarket.com), selected by CL readers who voted online.
Paint: All White and Dix Blue, farrow-ball.com
Fabric: Sanganer in Blush, theshadestore.com
The mantel, a find from Nashville’s Preservation Station, is the perfect old-meets-new hybrid: It dates back to the early 1900s but has been enlivened with a new coat of paint. The original brick surround provides the sort of old house charm Holly loves. “I love scouring antiques malls, like Nashville’s Gas Lamp Antiques, for historic and unusual finds that could have actually been here 100 years ago,” says Holly.