When Blaire Murfree got a call from a client asking her to help downsize from a large country estate southwest of Nashville to a townhouse in nearby Belle Meade, the designer knew it would be an exciting challenge. “My client’s previous house was a beautiful Georgian home with a lot of history, old architectural bones, and rooms that were huge in scale,” says Blaire. “She entertained often and had a lot of family pieces she wanted to preserve. My goal was to make this relatively new, smaller home look like it has some history and gravitas while also feeling fresh.”
Given that the owner has four sets of china and five sets of silver, the first item on the agenda was maximizing storage. Blaire decided to open up the original butler’s pantry and laundry room in order to expand the sunroom, adding storage to the enlarged room while also increasing space for entertaining. New millwork and hardwood flooring elevate the sophistication quotient throughout the home. As for the collection of antiques, Blaire says, “We used as many of my client’s pieces as we could but often gave them a refreshed look. For example, old lamps got new shades, and furniture was reupholstered.”
In the foyer, Blaire wanted to capture some of the grandeur from the owner’s previous entry, so she installed black-and-white floor tile and then covered the back wall in antiqued mirror to help amplify the space. A leopard-print ottoman brings an edgy accent.
Throughout the design process, the designer used art to make a statement and sometimes bring a sense of balance. For example, in the living room nook, an oversized architectural photograph takes center stage while also creating chemistry with the surrounding furniture. Over the mantel, an abstract painting acts as a palate cleanser to the antique Chippendale sofas. And rather than scattering family pictures throughout the house, Blaire opted for a high-impact portrait gallery to anchor the stairwell. Set against a white background, the colorful images seem to come to life, almost as if they’re in conversation with each other. (Given the family’s generational history in the area and their success in the banking and whiskey business, they likely have a lot to say.)
In the bedrooms, Blaire evoked some of the grandeur of her client’s previous home. “She was used to such formal décor,” says the designer. “People rarely decorate that way anymore, so I had fun leaning into that style.” She chose a canopy bed swathed in fabric for the master suite. In the guest bedroom, two heirloom beds rescued from Sherman’s March in the Civil War are covered in quilted Fortuny bedding plucked from a more recent moment in history—they were sold to a New Orleans antiques dealer by a family fleeing Hurricane Katrina.
For Blaire, a traditionalist whose work has a modern bent, this project was a chance to indulge in a bit of old-world glamour—from the sumptuous textiles to the formal bedding—while also nudging the home in a contemporary, updated direction. “Historically, Nashville design has been very traditional and conservative,” she says. “But now we are seeing the music industry have a greater influence here. People from New York and Los Angeles are bringing a sleeker, edgier look that’s becoming more mainstream. Like Nashville itself, it’s a dialogue between old and new, town and country. And it’s growing more and more in demand.”