Ruthie & Will's Eclectic Nashville Charmer

House Tour

Name: Will and Ruthie Sayles
Location: East Nashville, Tennessee
Size: 1600 square feet
Years lived in: 8 1/2 years; owned

Ruthie and Will's East Nashville home is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from some of the most unique little stores and cafes in town — I mean that literally; they can cross the street and buy a freshly brewed cup of coffee! That's not the only reason their home is such a jewel; this little place is packed with history and character, and Ruthie has thoughtfully filled it with things that are meaningful to her family.

Ruthie and Will bought their home over eight years ago, when it was a rather run-down old place in the heart of a neighborhood that was less than desirable. Fast forward to now — after a lot of hard work and some serendipitous neighborhood evolutionary changes, this little house has it all!

One of the first things I noticed about Ruthie and Will's home was how cozy and comfortable it felt. It felt like being at Grandma's house — a really cool, hip Grandma that has way more style than me! The way Ruthie pulls together family heirlooms, garage sale pieces, and flea market finds is nothing short of inspirational, but she is remarkably loose and laid back about her talents. There are no copied catalog spreads in this home — almost every single piece of art or furniture has a special meaning, a story, a history.

This home is a treasure to Ruthie and Will, and to their friends and family as well — and most recently, to Taylor Swift, who shot images for her most recent album here! Ruthie waves away the fame, explaining it as a series of really cool coincidences, but what Taylor's team probably saw in her home — what I saw in her home — was a place with soul. Ruthie pours her spirit and energy into her home, and her creative heart — a heart that cares about family, about heritage, about relationships — makes this little place sing with personality and warmth.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: I love mixing all types of styles. I adore vintage, and our home is a 100 year old Victorian, so luckily vintage works well there!

Inspiration: I'm inspired by so many things: the music my husband plays (he's a drummer), my incredibly talented friends here in Nashville (I'm surrounded by amazing musicians, painters, designers, etc.) — I always leave their presence feeling inspired! I'm also so inspired by films and books. I grew up in south Louisiana and love the French New Orleans style of home. I also love Catbird jewelry store out of Brooklyn — it may be my most favorite company of all time. The owner Rony has the most incredible taste and supports local artisans from all over NY, which I love. If I ever feel a lack of inspiration all I have to do is check out their incredible blog and I'm instantly taken away with inspiration! It's a good thing that precious little store is located in Brooklyn or else I would spend all our money there! Instead, every birthday or holiday I choose one special piece from there and that's what my boy gives me. Lastly, there's an amazing locally owned store named OMG (old made good) in my neighborhood of East Nashville that sells the most precious vintage furniture, jewelry, knick knacks, etc. — the 2 precious owners have the most amazing eye! They always have SO many treasures and I always want to buy up the entire store! I adore the girls and I adore the store!

Favorite Element: My wallpaper which I found at Anthropologie for 75% off! I seriously started crying and said, "It's a Christmas miracle!" I also adore my hanging chair on the back porch. That's where I do most of my work — it's my little happy place! Also after my papa (my dad) passed away, his precious Amish friends came and built us a brand new fence in one day in his honor! It means the world to me.

Biggest Challenge: Working on a tight budget, because I always have so many ideas of things I want to do. I feel like it causes me to be more creative!

What Friends Say: I asked!
"I think your place is so well-curated, and you can tell that a lot of love lives there. I love how everything around you feels like it has a story to tell."
"I love that it is a place of self expression. It's like you get to know Ruthie better by seeing what she loves and experiencing it. It feels timeless as well — not fad-driven. It also seems to wrap around you in intimacy and familiarity — there is a sense of delight and fun."

Biggest Embarrassment: Is it bad that I can't think of one??

Proudest DIY: Painting the floor on my back porch so that it looks like a rug.

Biggest Indulgence: The hanging chair on my back porch.

Best Advice: Go with your gut; if something feels really good to you then get it! I don't always know what I'm going to do with a piece when I find something that I am totally drawn to, but you can always make it work. Also, my house is small so I have a rule that if I buy a new piece of furniture I have to sell something just so it doesn't ever feel cluttered.

Dream Sources: I love Anthropologie! There were also a ton of shops all over London and Paris that I could have just melted in because they were incredible. And I love reading Emily Henderson's blog.

Resources of Note:

ENTRY

    • Marble top table: belonged to Will's grandparents
    • Chest: belonged to Will's great-grandparents
    • Chair: antique mall in Franklin, TN for $45!
    • Animal head: brought back from Paris. I had my friend build a base for it because I thought it would be funny!
    • Small painting to left of front door: one of my favorite pieces; painted for me as a wedding gift by a dear friend Coco Treppendahl. Her daughter was a close friend of mine and was killed in a drunk driving accident years ago. The painting is of the tree Coco found solace under after her passing — I look at that picture every day I leave my house and I thank God for allowing me to know such an incredible girl like Laura Treppendahl.

LIVING ROOM

    • Wallpaper: Anthropologie
    • Coffee table: gift from my papa years ago for Christmas
    • Wood: from an old shack in Louisiana (where I am from)
    • Blue chairs: $25 each from the Nashville flea market
    • Imitation Eames chair: from the 60's; bought on Etsy — had been dying for one for ages!
    • Couch: Pottery Barn Outlet
    • Botanical prints: $8 copies from my dear friend's grandmother's botanical book — the copies looked fantastic, and I got the frames from Michael's. I love how it looks like nice artwork but was so cheap!
    • Other art: local artists — I love supporting local artisans!
    • Rug: gift from my sweet mom for my 30th birthday; it was on clearance at Anthropologie!
    • Chandelier: flea market
    • Yellow swirl lamp: antique mall in Franklin, TN
    • Yellow lamp: garage sale, but shade is from the sale room at Anthropologie
    • Red quilt: my favorite piece in this room! Given to me last year for Christmas from my aunt, it was made by Great Aunt Ruthie (whose picture is on the table to the left of the couch.) I don't have many pieces from my mom's side of the family, so that piece in particular means so much to me — plus it's made in some of my favorite colors (not to mention I was also named after her!)

DINING ROOM

    • Table: hand-me-down from my brother and sister-in-law; I recovered the chairs.
    • Chandelier, tablecloth, and silver: belonged to Will's grandparents
    • Blue lamp: from the 60s; garage sale. I have a thing for old lamps and lights — it's one of my favorites!
    • Bar cart: found at an antique mall in Nashville for $40; have had the most fun dressing it with new and old pieces (mostly old!) I gave it to my boy for Christmas last year.
    • Map: this map is super special to me — it is a drawing of my parish from the 1800s. Every member of my family has one of these maps hanging in our home! I grew up looking at one every day and I love it!
    • Curtains: 2 panels from the Habitat for Humanity home store sewn together by my dear friend Evie Coates.

KITCHEN
This is the room I spend the least amount of time in. I'm a terrible cook; that's probably why I have done the least amount of work on this room!

    • Overhead light: from Nashville flea market; gift from one of my dearest friends Debbie.
    • Walls: mint color; I wanted something cheerful!
    • Cookie jars: thrift store
    • Church sign above fridge: antique mall in Chattanooga; had a fun time making letters for it!
    • Table and white piece under chalkboard: flea market

MASTER BEDROOM
This is one of my favorite rooms of the house — my safe haven! I love the old fireplace in our bedroom; the tile is original to the house and is from Italy. All the pieces on top are things that hold loads of meaning for me.

    • Wallpaper: Anthropologie; I adore this wallpaper, it feels like a beautiful piece of art to me.
    • Bed: wedding gift from Will's parents
    • Armoire: belonged to my parents
    • Side tables: belonged to Will's grandparents — I found them in his parents attic, and they just needed a bit of love to bring them back to life!
    • Vanity: belonged to my namesake Grandmother Ruth. She was a very fashionable lady; I have loads of memories playing in her jewelry and makeup at that vanity while growing up.
    • Artwork: most done by friends that are incredible artists. Most of the pieces I buy or thrift have meaning to me. I am probably a bit too sentimental, but I love for pieces to have meaning, and then they are just that much more special!
    • Mirror above bed: monthly flea market; I got this for super cheap!
    • Bedspread: Anthropologie; was a Christmas gift last year
    • Quilt on bed: found at an antique mall in Woodville, MS for $40; it's over 100 years old!
    • Vintage dress form: antique mall in Nashville; I had been wanting one in my room since I was a little girl, and found this one for $75! I was so thrilled. I keep all my necklaces on it.

GUEST BEDROOM
Will and I have an open door policy in our home. We love to have friends and family stay all the time. We even have friends who live in Nashville come over for slumber parties often just because it's so fun! That being said, I just wanted the room to feel cozy and welcoming.

    • Walls: Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware
    • White dresser and mirror: hand-me-down from my aunt; I painted it white and added fun knobs!
    • Quilt: sale room at Anthropologie; it's super warm and comfy.
    • Red desk: found at a garage sale when I was in college; hope to use it in our child's room someday!

HALLWAY

    • Walls: Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore
    • Bench: from an old railroad station; I found it thrifting in Franklin, TN
    • Pictures hanging above bench: photos of my gorgeous mom! She wasn't a model but she should have been.
    • Hanging lights: both hanging lights in the hall are the only 2 lights that are original to the house.
    • Photos in small hallway: photos of both of our families. I adore old pictures; I guess for me it's a reminder to never forget where you have come from and to remember to try to carry on their legacy in a way that would honor them.
    • Brass bird sculpture outside bedroom: one of my favorite pieces; thrift store. I love it so much, I had it put onto my business cards.

BACK PORCH
This may be my other favorite spot in our home. I spend most of my time in the spring and fall eating, working, and entertaining out there. The hanging chair is where you can usually find me if I am home! I had always wanted a screened-in porch my whole life, and two years ago my sweet boy and our friend Jeremy built it out for me. I adore it! I wanted it to feel more like a room than a porch, so that was the mindset I took when decorating it.

    • Chairs: hand-me-downs from my brother
    • Hanging chair: Anthropologie
    • Everything else: things I already owned — trying to be creative on a budget!
    • Rug: Couldn't afford an outdoor rug, so we just painted one!

Thanks, Ruthie!

(Images: Sarah Dobbins)

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Sarah is a freelance writer and photographer and mother of four boys. Her hobbies include writing emails at 4 am, fixing up her century-old home, critiquing superhero spin kicks, and trying not to kill her garden.