Home Sweet Home: Southern Style

Nashville decorator Sarah Bartholomew studied the works of some of the finest designers—teaching herself to spin traditional interiors like these in her own home.

The Family Room
Comfortable and roomy tufted-back sofas and club chairs were layered with light, organic neutrals for a calm, natural feeling.
Five years ago, when Sarah Bartholomew got the inside scoop that a certain Georgian house in Nashville was about to hit the market, the then-34-year-old decorator sensed that the search for her family’s dream home might be over. 
But at the moment she got word, she was visiting family in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Bo, and their four young children. “We bought it sight unseen,” she says with a laugh. Such seat-of-the-pants maneuvering wasn’t as impulsive as it seems. 

The Foyer
Bartholomew mixes a great deal of pattern and ornament: a batik-inspired wallpaper (Pierre Frey’s Toiles de Nantes), leopard-print runner, and chinoiserie porcelain. The space feels lively rather than overwhelming due to her careful attention to scale and the refined color palette.

In fact, Bartholomew had been preparing all her life to leap at such a well-proportioned house. The Georgian home’s good bones were exactly what she was looking for. 

The Seating Area
Two striped club chairs and a cushioned footstool (below) make a pretty mise-en-scène.

After a renovation that included complete overhauls of the kitchen and baths, Bartholomew decorated room after room for family life without skimping on glamour. 


The Kitchen
In this narrow, L-shaped kitchen, Bartholomew chose a traditional all-white foundation (shiplap walls, marble counters, Shaker cabinets, a Dutch door) and accessorized with pieces she has long admired, like French bistro stools, myrtle topiaries, Chippendale dining chairs, and a painting by Kayce Hughes.

She’s a devout decorating classicist, and her clean version of traditional style achieves effervescence with its crisp, clear colors and graphic vignettes.

The Breakfast Nook
To save space, she built in a banquette and made a rectangular top for a Saarinen tulip base—a clever way to squeeze the typically round table into a square space.

The Living Room
In here, there’s an easy confluence of elegant furnishings, including a Neoclassic center table, a parchment-covered waterfall cocktail table, and French chairs slipcovered in pale blue cotton. 

The Entry Table
The entry’s William Kent-inspired console is an antiques mall find. Bartholomew elevated it with a marble top and white paint.

The skirted antique Louis XVI chair and the Pierre Frey wallpaper are both ideas Bartholomew bookmarked years ago in her beloved inspiration The Givenchy Style.

The Master Bedroom
Bartholomew made curtains, a headboard, and a bed skirt from Les Touches, a versatile 1965 Brunschwig & Fils print. She’s always on a quest to find traditional things with a modern aspect, and this classic snow leopard print filled the bill. White sheets with a green scalloped edge provide a cheery contrast on the bed.

The Dining Room

Bartholomew outlined the grass cloth walls in spring green trim fabric to give it crisp definition and to tie together the room’s many layers of green: celadon in the curtains, leaf in the de Gournay painted panels, and pear-colored fabrics on the upholstered dining chairs.

The Bay Window
A pair of rattan club chairs, set near the family room’s large bay window, creates a small sunroom-like moment.

The Powder Room
Tucked off the blue-and-white entry, the powder room is livened up with green lattice wallpaper and matching green trim.

The Children’s Bathroom
She papered the gender-neutral children’s bath in Sister Parish’s Chou Chou pattern with a matching shower curtain.

The chinoiserie highboy (above) is a nod to Bunny Williams’ mentor, Albert Hadley, who frequently used similar pieces.

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