When interior designer Minnette Jackson and her husband moved from New York City to a house in Nashville, they were sure they’d never be able to fill their newfound space. After seven years in the home, Minnette says, “I can tell you we proved that thought wrong!” Far from being cluttered, however, each room is now beautifully appointed with a mix of items the designer describes as “classic with a twist”: comfortable upholstery and French antiques plus contemporary art and daring doses of color and pattern.
Arriving at that point took some imagination. “I referred to it as a ‘cocoon of beige and brown’ when we moved in,” Minnette says; the house felt heavy, drab, and dated. But the structure was sound and the layout flowed, so the designer set about giving herself a clean slate to work with. “There were so many design directions I wanted to go that I ended up just neutralizing and brightening everything.” The mini refresh gave her time to mull her approach while living in the space, and to source a few key pieces in the meantime.
Although most rooms went through multiple transformations, the home’s final design ended up reflecting its surroundings. “Nashville is such a vibrant Southern city, complete with classic architecture, beautiful green hills, and a heavy dose of Southern hospitality,” Minnette says. “It is hard to design a home there that doesn’t reflect those comforts.” She drew from the leafy greens and bright blues of the Tennessee landscape, and took further inspiration from her and her husband’s deeply personal—and widely varied—art collection.
Although Minnette and her husband have recently relocated again—this time to Minnette’s hometown of Houston—they cherish the memories they made in Nashville. “It was a little hard to leave that one behind,” Minnette says of her now-former home. “We loved to recharge there and also to entertain family and friends.” But, she says, “we’re getting settled in, and slowly but surely turning this house [in Houston] into our new home.”
I love mixing contemporary and abstract art into interiors. The right piece can add a much-needed dose of color, form, and contrast that can keep a room from feeling too predictable or stuffy.
Nashville is such a vibrant Southern city, complete with classic architecture, beautiful green hills, and a heavy dose of Southern hospitality. It is hard to design a home there that doesn’t reflect those comforts.
Minnette’s Top Tips for Mixing Old and New
Find the right balance: “When a room is all made up of completely new items, it risks feeling a little sterile and soulless; at the same time, it does take some skill to know how to mix in older with newer pieces. I personally love working that balance, and I love when there is a story to tell about how or why you acquired a certain piece. I find I am often drawn toward antiques that have a modern sensibility to them.”
Make hand-me-downs your own: “Working with hand-me-downs can be tricky—if you don’t love a piece but are holding onto it because you feel getting rid of it might not go over well with an older family member, find a way to ask them if you can give it a new home, give it new life with a fresh coat of paint, or possibly sell it to put toward something you really love. With upholstery, if it’s a good-quality piece, you can often have it reupholstered in a beautiful fabric and have certain elements reshaped, like oversize arms, to make it feel more current. Make sure that if you are getting rid of or modifying a piece you aren’t damaging something valuable. Sometimes you just need to try it in a new spot. Often, family heirlooms can be the best touch in a room and give you a unique starting point that no one else will have in their home.”
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