From New York to Nashville, Putting Down Roots in a Charming Brick Bungalow

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The house was built in 1940 and still has a lot of original aspects, from windows to crystal doorknobs to the original doorbell hardware. (Image credit: Submitted by Amelia )

Name: Amelia, Mark and their toddler Silas
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
The basics: 1 year ,owned — 1,800 square feet

Amelia and Mark’s charming brick bungalow feels like the kind of spot New Yorkers dream of when they imagine moving out of the city. A home with actual space and a yard but still cool and funky and full of character.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My partner, Mark (a bowmaker for violin, viola, cello and bass) and I (a women’s media editor and poet) and our son Silas (a one-year-old and ice cream expert), and Prudence (a cat) bought this brick bungalow in East Nashville in 2016. After being officially priced out of all five NYC boroughs, we flew down to Nashville for two days and looked at 12 houses, all of which were pretty terrible — either entirely new and boring or entirely old and run-down. This home (built in 1940 but with brand-new bathrooms and kitchen) was serendipity; I maaaaybe started crying as soon as we walked in. When you know, you know!

What is your favorite room and why? The navy-and-white kitchen is what sold us on the house, but the most special (read: weirdest) may well be what we use as the master bedroom. It has white shiplap walls and slanted attic ceilings, plus a windowed alcove we use as a closet of sorts. It’s the room we’ve done the least with (we keep it pretty spare and white and still haven’t bought a bed frame) because it makes us feel like we’re sleeping on a boat every night.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? Everything old that Mark would change (i.e. the 1940s window glass and original floors in the nursery) I would fight to keep, and everything new I would change (i.e. replace the new bathroom fixtures with vintage ones) Mark would want to stay modern. So, nothing? Although we do both agree the unfinished basement is a little creepy, and we’d like to make the whole house magically impenetrable to spiders. After 10+ years in NYC we’re still pretty new to this whole “nature” thing.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? We bought blue suede to reupholster the Stickley love seat Mark inherited from his boss in Brooklyn (“inherited” = he called one day like, “hey I have this fancy antique that won’t fit through my apartment door, do you want it??”). The wood on the piece is amazing, but it was upholstered in a kind of gross-yellow silk. So Mark worked his magic with the upholstery tacks, and now it’s a loveseat worthy of Elvis.

Which fictional character would be most at home in your place? My first instinct was Sally Seton from “Mrs. Dalloway” (the brash feminist turned homemaker but still pretty much a badass) but actually Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” may fit even better. Either way, I’d like some forward-thinking turn-of-the-20th-century woman like those two to be transported here and think, “this is just what I need.” I’d like her to have a room of her own to work in like I do, and not too much stuff to maintain or keep clean. Maybe Edna would even revise her own ending. Plus, Nashville isn’t New Orleans, but there’s a certain American-South aesthetic/weather vibe that pervades Chopin’s novel as well as our house (especially in August).

Amelia’s words of wisdom: What Marie Kondo said! Keep things that spark joy, that tell a story, that serve your daily life. Don’t keep 23 different hyper-specific kitchen appliances you use once a year. Aim for quality over quantity; empty spaces can be alluring. I’d rather no couch (or bed, as evidenced by our current lack thereof) than a crappy one that’s just a placeholder until we can afford the one we really want. (Although I still can’t get behind that whole Kondo routine of thanking your shampoo or whatever.)

Thanks, Amelia!

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