East Nashville renovation makes things light and bright

Photography by Reagen Taylor

Hannah Crowell grew up in a family of performers, each more talented than the next, to the point where it seemed weird if you weren’t a musician. Daughter of Roseanne Cash and Rodney Crowell, granddaughter to Johnny Cash, music was certainly in her blood. But that didn’t make it right.

For a while she tried to follow in the footsteps of her illustrious family, but she eventually realized performing wasn’t at all what she wanted to do. So got her degree from the San Diego Design Institute and started over, embracing interior design as a second career.

“I didn’t realize that was an actual career, even though I watched ‘Designing Women,’ ” she jokes. “Coming from a family of performers, I just assumed that that’s what I had to do. Now, looking back, I was obsessed with my room and I was, at the time, obsessed with every Laura Ashley print. I just wanted to swaddle myself in Laura Ashley floral prints. It was definitely there from the beginning.”

It was certainly the right career move. She first founded Belak and Crowell Interiors before branching out on her own with Crowell + Co. Interiors.

One recent project Crowell worked on was the East Nashville home of Erin Breeding and Gerard Hardiman. Built in 2004, the home had missed the mark when it was constructed; the attempt to match the historic nature of the neighborhood fell short. The house was too dark, and somehow not quite right, so Crowell was brought in to make it modern while maintaining a bit of the 1940s feel the rest of the neighborhood has.

The process took about eight months to complete from start to finish, including a total gut job of the master bathroom — complete with downed walls and reconfigured pipes. The new dark tile contrasts with the light marble tub and shower, the large, patterned rug is unexpected but works to warm things up a bit.

“We made a master bath that felt bright and airy, and that had enough storage,” she says. “It is a master bath that you would want to have.”

The master bedroom was a bit of an awkward space, with really high ceilings but rather anemic windows. The scale was off, so they decided to put wallpaper over one of the giant walls to detract from the oddness.

“I love wallpaper more than anything on the planet, so I do use it a lot,” Crowell says.

The pattern she wanted was expensive, and Crowell and the homeowners went back and forth between it and a more affordable pattern. In the end, they decided the cost was worth getting the one they loved. She then hung the window treatments way above the casings to make the small windows appear longer.

Floors were an issue too; the prefabricated floorboards were stained red and wouldn’t work with the new plan. Refinishing pre-fabricated floors is a big risk because there is so little to sand down, but the end result was a risk that paid off.

“I love my floor guy, and I just made him do it thinking that everything was going to be okay. And it was,” she says.

The kitchen was another gut job that included opening a wall into the family room for more flow, as well as adding a wall of windows and French doors that opened into the spacious-for-East-Nashville backyard.

“It was just kind of dark and felt tight, so we wanted to open it up and make it bright and happy,” she says.

Meet The Designer

Hannah Crowell of Crowell + Co. Interiors likes to call the shots when it comes to design and admits she is a bit of a Type-A personality. “So I do kind of think that my opinion is really the right one, but we can’t always do that,” she jokes.

Still, she loves to collaborate with clients and has even been drawn to things she never knew existed, thanks to the inspiration of others. “I really enjoy clients who are willing to take risks or do something that’s a little bit out of their comfort zone,” she says. “Or, who are just interested in having a livable, well-curated, comfortable space where everyone can pile in. It’s functional but still beautiful.”

Where do you shop?
I love Wilder. I love GasLamp Antique Mall. I always find weird little things there that I love.

Do you follow trends?
I don’t. Honestly, with having my own business and two little girls, I’m sure there’s all kinds of trends, but I don’t know what they are. I have 9,000 magazines, and I don’t have time to look at any of them.

What is your design philosophy?
If I like it, then I feel like it kind of works. I just don’t really think about it. I don’t have rules or anything. I feel like if I love it or if my clients love it, then it all kind of works out.