Text by Lauren Eberle / Photography by Shea Halliburton Wright
A chic floor-to-ceiling makeover gives a treasured Tennessee farmhouse new life, new love, and a fresh style.
Shea Halliburton Wright’s first three years of life were spent in a 1920s guesthouse on her family’s 80-acre farm in Clarksville, Tennessee. For three generations, this tiny abode has been much more than a starter home for the newlyweds in the family. Rather, the cozy cottage is symbolic of new beginnings—an experience Shea had firsthand when she moved back to the family farm in 2010.
Her initial design challenge was to make 900 square feet seem more spacious. Shea and her father began with the ceiling, unveiling original beams under old drywall. Coats of white paint on the ceiling and walls created a blank canvas, instant airiness, and a striking contrast to the dyed ebony floors.
In the kitchen, quick cosmetic changes produced dramatic results. Sticking with a monochromatic color scheme, Shea enlisted her family to craft concrete countertops, paint cabinets, give walls a Venetian faux finish, add can lights, and install a simple backsplash.
From there the fun—decorating—began. “I love mixing modern, clean lines with paint-chipped antiques to create an eclectic, unexpected look,” Shea explains. Take, for instance, the dining room, where Lucite chairs pair with a large oak table. “I knew clear chairs wouldn’t take up much visual space, allowing this open-concept area to appear less cluttered.”
In the living room, a modern gray sectional combines with an old golden chair, while a worn trunk doubles as both storage and a coffee table. Anchoring the space is a graphic charcoal rug, which breaks up the neutrals of the room with a bold pattern.
Across the hall in the master bedroom, a lovingly restored iron bed is accompanied by mismatched nightstands—on the left, a dental chest; the right, a modern cubby—offering clever character and space for sentimental treasures.
In 2012, nearly 30 years after her parents moved her in as an infant, Shea’s precious cottage became a newlywed haven. And although she and her architect husband, Josh, have grand visions for their next custom-designed house, one thing remains certain: You can go home again. “We’ll always look fondly on our time here in the little house,” Shea promises. “There’s just something so special about coming back to where you started.”