Home Tour

A carefully curated home

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One of our favorite friends and clients, Sandy Presley, opened up her home recently for us to share with you. It’s full of one of a kind treasures and collected pieces from antique shops and local Knoxville stores. Sandy’s home is one of those places that always feels like a breath of fresh air and a place where it’s easy to relax and be yourself. With a neutral palate and a warmth that comes from beautiful woods and colors, Sandy’s home is like a retreat. We hope you enjoy this peak into her beautiful space.

How long have you lived in your home?

14 years. When we decided to build, we purchased a house plan and customized it. We opened up the main living area more than the plan called for to make our space work better for hosting large groups of people.

The music room

The music room

Powder Room

Powder Room

Sitting nook in a guest bedroom

Sitting nook in a guest bedroom

What does home mean to you?

It’s a landing place for all my family. A gathering retreat where memories are relived and new ones made.

Living room

Living room

Living room— custom cabinets made from old heart pine that Sandy collected.

Living room— custom cabinets made from old heart pine that Sandy collected.

How would you describe your style of decorating?

Modern- rustic. I hope that it’s comfy and cozy!

Bench: Antique from a shop in Atlanta, watercolors from O.P. Jenkins

Bench: Antique from a shop in Atlanta, watercolors from O.P. Jenkins

Did your style happen organically or was it a process of figuring out what style means to you? Has your style changed over time? Do you have any favorite stores or shops for furniture or home decor?

I try not to be too trendy but always go with pieces I love. I tend to work with the character and nature of the home itself as well. I decorated our previous house differently because that home was a very different style than my current one. For furniture and decor I love the Restoration Hardware outlet and antique and vintage shops. Locally, my go-to’s for pretty things as well as therapy are O.P. Jenkins, Laws Interiors, & Bennett Galleries.

 
The keeping room

The keeping room

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collected books and treasures

collected books and treasures

You have some really amazing pieces in your home, what is your relationship to your belongings?

I’m not super attached to much of anything and offer almost everything to my kids except for my blue velvet chair in the keeping room. Everyone wants that chair!

When people come into your home, what do you hope they feel?

Peaceful and relaxed and so comfortable that they want to come often.

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Do you have a style or home philosophy?

Love what you love. Don’t let magazines dictate what you should love.

Dining room with heart pine wood paneling that Sandy collected.

Dining room with heart pine wood paneling that Sandy collected.

How is your home an extension of yourself or of your family?

This home is too much house for me so I love sharing it with others. I’ve hosted many showers, parties, wedding events, Christmas carol sing along’s, even a wedding itself here. I always want it to feel open to anyone.

Foyer

Foyer

Laundry room details

Laundry room details

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Do you have a favorite room in your home? A favorite piece of art or piece of furniture?

The keeping room. I love the coziness of the fireplace and I love that you are still part of what’s happening in the kitchen.

I have put a lot of thought and care into everything I selected in the original design so each thing is pretty special. It’s hard to pick but I would have to say the wood panels in the foyer and dinging room as well as the cabinetry in the living room are my favorites. Sam Whisman and Bruce Kestrel made them from old heart pine wood that I’d collected over the years. I also collected antique doors for this house and have used them in all different ways.

 
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What do you love most about your home?

I love that it’s a quiet place of refuge for me, my family and my friends. I love that everything has a story behind it.

Sandy and her family. Image by  Texture Photo

Sandy and her family. Image by Texture Photo








Guardian of the Adventurer: A world traveler’s home tour

“Guardian of the Adventurer” protects loved ones on their journeys and guides them safely home. Made by  Mary Ennes Davis  of Crow River Studio. Mixed media made from a cupboard door, banister railings, coat hanger, rulers, letter press, coins, sterling compact, chopsticks, and beach glass beads. Purchased by Susie at the Smithsonian Craft Show.

“Guardian of the Adventurer” protects loved ones on their journeys and guides them safely home. Made by Mary Ennes Davis of Crow River Studio. Mixed media made from a cupboard door, banister railings, coat hanger, rulers, letter press, coins, sterling compact, chopsticks, and beach glass beads. Purchased by Susie at the Smithsonian Craft Show.

One of the many beautiful things adorning the walls of Susie’s home is a special piece of art titled “Guardian of the Adventurer”. I can’t think of a better way to describe the entirety of her home. Walking in, I immediately felt safe and welcome and like I had just stepped into a treasure trove. Susie herself is quite the adventurer, and her home is a perfect capsule of the many places she has been, the loved ones she has experienced life with, and the beautiful art she has both collected and created herself along the way.

An antique wedding chest from Germany circa 1815.

An antique wedding chest from Germany circa 1815.

Formal dining room with an AMAZING German folk art cupboard circa 1843 at the head of the table

Formal dining room with an AMAZING German folk art cupboard circa 1843 at the head of the table

Susie’s collection of Gaudy Welsh

Susie’s collection of Gaudy Welsh

Antique samplers and another beautiful German folk art cupboard circa 1806

Antique samplers and another beautiful German folk art cupboard circa 1806

A native of Oak Ridge, Susie spent many years with her husband, Carl, living abroad and in the D.C. area. When she returned to Tennessee in 2015, she settled into her home and has transformed her space into a wonderful collection of stories and past and present memories. With a fondness for where she’s come from and an excitement for what the future holds, her sense of adventure is contagious.

Copper Luster from England and treasured books

Copper Luster from England and treasured books

Collection of Ink wells and  Turnbridge ware  collected from England

Collection of Ink wells and Turnbridge ware collected from England

 
A German wedding box which says “When two hands are joined as one”.

A German wedding box which says “When two hands are joined as one”.

“Mother and Child”by  Jacque Parsley  of Louisville

“Mother and Child”by Jacque Parsley of Louisville

A collection of Dala horses and other treasures from Sweden passed down from Carl’s side of the family

A collection of Dala horses and other treasures from Sweden passed down from Carl’s side of the family

When I asked Susie what home means to her she described it as her nest, her safe haven-- and one that she can open up and extend to others as well. Home is her happy place, and it’s filled with the stories of her life. When people come into Susie’s home, her desire is that they feel loved and welcome. She loves creating a comfortable place that evokes curiosity and invites questions and storytelling.

Susie had the wonderful idea of replacing the panels of several of her upper cabinets with glass fronts to lighten up her kitchen.

Susie had the wonderful idea of replacing the panels of several of her upper cabinets with glass fronts to lighten up her kitchen.

A wonderful sun room that Susie converted from a screened in porch to be able to use year round.

A wonderful sun room that Susie converted from a screened in porch to be able to use year round.

Antique stained glass collected from a church in Aberdeen Scotland and framed to fit her space. We love the creative ways that Susie has customized her home.

Antique stained glass collected from a church in Aberdeen Scotland and framed to fit her space. We love the creative ways that Susie has customized her home.

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Susie’s decor leans toward traditional with a deep love for antiques (including some incredible European pieces) and a bit of quirkiness thrown in. One of her go-to spots for furniture and home decor was Westwood Antiques of Knoxville, which closed in 2018. The owner, Scott Bishop, now has a booth at Bearden Antique Mall. A self-proclaimed lover of all things hand made, she has a special love for created items. Artwork of all sorts graces her home, including carvings, sculptures, quilts, paintings, antique samplers, lithographs, and mixed media pieces. Susie shares that she’s had a good sense of her design leanings for as long as she can remember. She’s always loved antiques and folk art and has always gravitated towards certain colors.

Round Robin  quilt made by Susie and 5 friends from England

Round Robin quilt made by Susie and 5 friends from England

Hydrangea guest bedroom

Hydrangea guest bedroom

Antique depression era quilt hanging on wall. Quilts on bed are  Lone Star  variations made by Susie

Antique depression era quilt hanging on wall. Quilts on bed are Lone Star variations made by Susie

I was intrigued by how travel had influenced Susie’s decorating, and she shared that early on in her marriage, while they were living in Europe, they would purchase a piece of artwork in each place they visited. Sometimes it was a print or a lithograph and sometimes it was an original painting, but they always brought back a memory. As an Army wife, she was heavily influenced by the people she met and the places she visited in their travels.

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris

Susie shares, “The above quote has always been my mantra for creating the 13 homes I’ve lived in as we’ve moved all over the world. As an Army family who had to relocate often, it was very important for Carl and I to make each place special—unique, our own, no matter if it was an Army-furnished set of quarters with generic furniture, a temporary apartment, or our dream home.”

Hydrangea quilt made by a dear friend of Susies. Jenny Harris is a British quilter who won prizes for her creation.

Hydrangea quilt made by a dear friend of Susies. Jenny Harris is a British quilter who won prizes for her creation.

In the same way, Susie’s own creativity and art has influenced her home. She has beautiful quilts, sketches, and other crafted creations throughout her home. She considers her home a large- scale photo album of her life.

Susie’s craft and art room

Susie’s craft and art room

Vintage pencil box

Vintage pencil box

Quilting closet. Every quilter needs a palette

Quilting closet. Every quilter needs a palette

Collection of miniatures from special places and adventures

Collection of miniatures from special places and adventures

Collected vintage and antique toys and children’s books from all over the world

Collected vintage and antique toys and children’s books from all over the world

In the same way that Susie has collected art and artifacts, she’s also collected people and brought them into her clan, blending and connecting beautiful things and friendships in new and synergistic ways. Thank you so much Susie for opening up your amazing home and sharing part of your story with us!

Susie and Carl in Suffolk, VA in December 2012

Susie and Carl in Suffolk, VA in December 2012

Phillips Family Home Tour

Meet the fabulous Phillips family! Dan, Brooke, their 4 kids and their awesome dog. I sat down with them a few weeks ago and had a great conversation about life, love, and making a home. This home tour is a bit different than our usual tours because in a few weeks they will be moving to a new home. We wanted to capture a small piece of the beauty and love in their fixer upper before they said goodbye to it. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into their life. All photos were taken by Haley Kennedy.

How long have you all lived in this house?

We bought the house in November of 2016. (It’s a wild story!—read more about it here on Brooke’s blog.) The home had been sitting empty for about six years and we affectionately coined it the “Phillips Family Fixer Upper” and set to work making this gem of a home into all it could be. We did a major overhaul on the kitchen by removing a wall, adding the island, new countertops, and open shelving. We took it back to the bare bones and simplified. It’s made me realize how freeing it can be to have only what you need. Aside from the kitchen, we restored all of the floors, resurfaced just about every wall in the house, added ship lap in a few rooms, and created a breezeway in order to make the office and master bedroom wing function better. We strategically added walls to create a better flow and layout for our family. We did a lot of the work ourselves with the help of family and friends.

How would you describe your style of decorating?

Brooke: It’s collected. I don’t really know how to describe it other than by saying I don’t follow trends. If anything, I look back to what history has shown us is beautiful. If it was beautiful 100 years ago and still is today, then great! I look around and look for natural textures and use them collectively. I don’t like synthetics or reproductions. It’s more true when it’s been found and discovered rather than copied. When I’m working with a client I always say “Tell me about YOU! You don’t want a carbon copy of a Joanna Gaines’ house. Tell me about YOU! Let’s see what you love and figure out how to use it in a tasteful and beautiful way.” In order to have the richest experience in your home, an item either needs to be useful, beautiful, or sentimental. Ideally it would have all 3, but at least 2 or you shouldn’t have it.

Another major thing I use help create a space is that I want to touch on all the senses when decorating. I pay close attention to the textures felt, the sounds heard, the mood they want, the smells that create memories. Did you know that smell is the only sense that’s initially processed in the brain and the limbic system? Smells can cause a feeling! Dan helps me think through what’s really functional. He grounds me. He comes up with the best ideas because he’s so logical. I think of myself as the creative but he is creative too, just in a different way. He takes my dreamer self and helps me make it a reality in a practical way that’s so much better once it’s been thought through.

Dan: My style is practical and comfortable. If it makes me decompress— that’s my style. I don’t like things to be too put together. I like things that make me exhale. I like dark woods, brick, masculine and earthy things—with a touch of woman— got to have a woman’s touch.

Backstory on how Brooke got into design:

When I was a little girl and my friends were buying toys, I was buying antiques. For my first job I painted horse fences and I took all of the money I made and bought an antique. It was a settee to go at the end of my bed. I’ve loved design for as long as I can remember. Jumping ahead in time— while my friends were in college, I was having babies and Dan was a pastor. I have always decorated peoples homes— but I did it for free. I did big homes and small homes and operated an art boutique for a period of time. When we moved to Knoxville and Dan transitioned from full time ministry to teaching and coaching football he said “Babe, you are going to have to get a job or charge people for what you do.” I went and got a job as a barista at a local place in Knoxville. One day the manager looked at me and said “Brooke— what are you doing here? Why are you serving coffee?? Go do what you do!” So I started my company 3 years ago. It started with one friend and then a few more friends hired me and now here I am!

You have some really amazing pieces in your home, what is your relationship to your belongings?

As sentimental as I am, I don’t hold on to things just because it was my grandmothers or because it has some memory attached to it. However, I love to hold on to things that are sentimental and use them in artful ways. Most importantly, I want my belongings to tell our story. I want reminders of where I’ve been or what I’ve been through. But I also have 4 kids and dog— a million things have been broken and I can honestly say I don’t get mad when things break—it’s just not worth it. I’ve either glued them back together and put them right back up or tossed them and moved on.

Do you have a style or home philosophy?

Everything here is rescued. Whether we spot a chair on the side of the road or hunt estate sales for the perfect armoire, there is a frugal-ness to what we do. You don’t have to spend a million dollars to make a beautiful space. You also have to remind yourself that a home is not built over night— its built over time. Without patience there is constant frustration— allow a space to be empty and wait for the right pieces.

So how do you decide what to purchase?

Wait! wait! wait! Certain pieces can change a room and are worth waiting for. Ask yourself, “Is this something that’s going to be with my family for years or generations?” If it is, it’s worth the investment. Build around your investment pieces frugally. Over the years I’ve found that it’s very difficult to buy good quality new furniture— the good quality pieces will cost you. Good quality new items are outside of 99% of the budgets that I typically work with. You have to look beyond the furniture store. I’ve learned to use furniture in a lot of different ways— ask yourself how versatile a piece is when you are considering it. Stay away from synthetics and go for things that are real. Do you love it? After a week are you still losing sleep of the dresser that you didn’t buy? If you are then go get it!

I will say this—As women, we look at magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram and either we live in envy over it and don’t have peace or we say forget it and give up. Often times people are in one of those camps. Have you given up and stopped caring about your home? Have you gotten obsessed with perfection and constantly worry about things getting messed up? Wherever you find yourself, there is a medium between those two extremes— that sweet spot where you find contentment. The goal is for your home to work for you and your family- it doesn’t have to be perfectly decorated. A home that you love and enjoy is easy for other people to love and enjoy.

What does home mean to you?

Dan: It is my refuge. It’s where I recharge, get encouraged, decompress. I don’t function well when I don’t get enough time at home. Home is where love happens. Everything I love about this home is because I love the people who live here.

Brooke: Home is a place where you receive love so you can give it. Just the physical home itself gives off that feeling. We’ve lived so many different places and they each served such a purpose. Not all of them were pretty… but they were all a home. When I came to this house- I could feel love.. I could feel that there had been a family here.

When people come into your home, what do you hope they feel?

Dan: Creating spaces that people want to be in is Brooke’s specialty.

Brooke: Our house is an emotional place for people. I want them to feel like they belong here and can be comfortable here- be themselves. All their problems, all their quirks, can just be here— you don’t have to become something or someone else to walk in our door.

Thank you so much Dan and Brooke for welcoming us in and sharing part of your story!