By Hollie Deese
Who hasn’t gotten sucked into a marathon of HGTV’s renovation show “Fixer Upper” and started thinking they might have the chops to turn some flea market finds into fabulous show pieces, or Googled where to find shiplap in Middle Tennessee?
In fact, the renovated, fancy farmhouse aesthetic made popular by Chip and Joanna Gaines on the hit show is so coveted right now that their first book “The Magnolia Story” isn’t even out until October and has already hit No. 1 on Amazon for pre-sale.
Luckily there is no need to wait until this fall to start adding some of those personal and lived-in touches the Gaines’ have become known for, especially for a look that seems custom-made for Sumner County. Here’s some of the trends often seen on the show that are happening right now locally.
Chad Hornick with Arthur Rutenberg Homes calls the aesthetic “modern craftsman” and says it is a real change from what was happening 10 or 20 years ago when everyone was building production homes that at times could be considered cookie cutter.
Interior brick walls – real or faux – are one way people are choosing to add visual interest, a look seen in many older farmhouses like the ones getting a redo on “Fixer Upper.” And when paired with more industrial pieces like conduit pipe and wood beams it doesn’t come off as too crafty.
“It’s just really different, and people may not want modern and white everything,” Hornick says. “When you start warming the house up with some wood and stone and you get a real good balance between that, you can furnish a house in any design style you choose.”
Hornick says that is one of the biggest benefits of this rustic and modern mashup – being able to use any number of beloved items in the décor, mixed among newer ones.
“Some of the more experienced buyers have furniture that they’ve had 30, 40 years or some of the younger families adopting their table from their grandparents,” Hornick says. “You could throw a white leather couch in one of those rooms with a really old rocking chair and put some wood on the ceiling and it looks amazing.”
Trey Pettis with Pettis Builders says they have several clients who will do an island a different or contrasting color than the backdrop of the cabinets, or maybe stain the hood different from the rest of the cabinets. And you can’t go wrong with shades of grey.
“It just looks cool and resonates with younger people and retirees too,” Pettis says.
Pettis says one way to offset all wood elements that come with the style he calls “rustic “glam” is with chrome light fixtures. “Those kind of mix well together, older-looking barn wood offset by a chandelier that may be hanging off of the vaulted ceiling right next to these beams,” Pettis says.
And wood or not, light fixtures are having a moment of their own, standing out for all the right reasons in addition to adding illumination.
“Light fixtures are a big deal,” says Robin Meyer of Robin’s Nest Interiors in Hendersonville. Meyer says the Mason jar trend is on its way out, while fixtures with an industrial feel are taking their place, while the Edison bulb with visible filaments are not going anywhere at all.
“You need to be careful about getting something that is so trendy you’re not going to like it in a couple of years, unless you’re willing to change it out,” Meyer says.
Painted wood furniture and walls is one look that happens over and over on HGTV, and while it can be amazing for breathing new life into old pieces, Meyer warns about going overboard with the brush.
“It depends on the aesthetic of the room,” Meyer says. “There are some pieces that you do want to paint to give it that look, but not everything. If you are going to paint a piece you can make it look all different ways.”
And when it comes to hardwood, the less manufactured and more imperfect, the better. “People like seeing the knots,” Meyer says of the hand-scraped style. “You can buy it or have it milled that way.
Homeowners are even opting for woodgrain plank tile in bathrooms and basements. “I’m doing a whole lower level that comes off from the lake and that’s not the only one I’ve done,” Meyer says. “It is less expensive and they’ve come a long way with the look.”
“We definitely do a lot of exposed beams,” Meyer says. “You want to change a look, add beams. Even in new construction there’s going to be beams in some rooms for that rough, clean look. There are places that sell actual wood beams that come out of old buildings or farm houses.”
For a less expensive version people will also do what is called wrapping a beam. “It’s not quite as expensive and it also isn’t as heavy,” Meyer says.
Hornick says another option is creating box beams, putting four pieces of wood together into a square instead of using a full solid piece of wood while Pettis says many people are painting them or distressing newer ones to make them look old. But sometimes you just can’t beat the real thing.
“We will purchase wood that’s been torn off of 100- 200-year-old barns, spray it for bugs and clean it up a little bit, but leave the gray tones,” Pettis says. “It’s really hard to get the same feel and look of a 100-year-aged oak gray color. There’s a lot of texture in that wood, so it’s really a look that is very difficult to capture without using the real thing. We can stain product to look like it. We can beat it up and try to make it look old, but nothing looks the same as an actual 100-year old piece of wood.”
“You don’t need to fill that entire wall with artwork when you have that because the door itself incorporates itself into the design of the house and becomes part of your interior decorating,” Hornick says. “Instead of buying artwork, the artwork is part of the house.”
Meyer says she installed just one slider door with exposed hardware several years ago to cover a safe room and now people request them all of the time, all over the house. The only problem with them is the amount of wall space you need beyond the door to accommodate the slide.
“They’re really cute but you’ve really got to have the space,” she says. “You really need twice the amount of room than the opening.”