Name: Cassidy and Todd Wellons (and Lyle the six-year-old Weimaraner)
Location: Cleveland Park — East Nashville, Tenneesee
Size: 2700 square feet
Years lived in: Own, lived in for 2.5 years and renovated for 1.5 years
This historic East Nashville house was completely gutted when Cassidy and Todd purchased it in April 2014—even the baseboards were gone—but they saw the potential in the structure. Along with Cassidy's parents, the couple spent a year and half renovating; the entire house is one big DIY project!
Cassidy and Todd originally hail from Virginia but their musical interests led them to Nashville a little over four years ago. Cassidy is a pharmacist, fiction writer and interior decorator. Todd works in real estate... but is really a musician in a rock band. And they filled their home with items that tell their personal stories, from musical instruments, shelves of books, and rooms with antique treasures and modern pieces. But first, before the accessorizing, they had to renovate.
They did everything from structural work to electrical to plumbing and even remodeled the ceiling upstairs by raising it two feet, creating more head space. Needless to say, they learned a lot through the renovating process. And while the space certainly matches their fun, modern style, they also worked to make sure it retains its historic appeal through era-specific molding, fireplace mantels, and other design details.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Eclectic DIY. Along with my parents, we renovated this home from the studs, and I think that shows in the finished product. I'm a restless spirit, so even now I'm continuing to update with new paint or furniture or decor. Our friends are surprised every time they come over because something has always changed!
Inspiration: When we were renovating, I scoured the internet constantly—Houzz much, anyone?—but we're also huge travelers with big imaginations, and we're always incorporating new experiences into our aesthetic.
Favorite Element: The old stuff! When we bought our house, it had already been gutted, so we missed out on a lot of the good things I wanted in an old house—trim, trim, and more trim—but we did get some original elements like the five-panel doors, pocket doors in the dining room, and fireplaces. The mantels in our formal rooms were salvaged from other old homes that weren't lucky enough to be saved, and when we installed new trim, I got advice from a historic preservationist friend about a style that would honor the past. However, out of everything, I think my absolute favorite old things are the pocket door hardware that we restored and the old back porch ceiling we salvaged and used for an accent wall in the downstairs bathroom.
Biggest Challenge: The upstairs floor plan. The original upstairs was cramped with lower ceilings, lots of dormers, and sloping overhead. To make matters worse, I had bought this antique poster bed and had my parents bring it back from my sister's in Houston, but it was so tall that we couldn't figure out a way to make it fit anywhere. In the end, a random suggestion from a neighbor to extend the hallway by a foot made all the difference. We also changed the roof support to expand the dormers, pushed back the knee walls for extended floor space, and raised the ceiling by two feet. I'll give my mother all the credit on this! We had been struggling for months with ideas, and one day, it just clicked for her.
What Friends Say: Our home has always been a gathering point among friends. When we were working on the house, friends and neighbors were constantly popping in to check out our progress and keep us company while we worked. After we finished, not much changed! Our house continues to host gatherings—from writing groups and band practice to game nights and dinner parties. Our friends say that our house is both comfortable and interesting. There is always something changing in our house, and it's fun to watch our friends notice these things.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our hand-me-downs and cheap decor. While we finished renovations just barely over budget, we didn't have a single cent left for furnishing, so we ended up bringing in a lot of the furniture we'd been using in our rental houses over the years and buying things to fill spaces that I didn't necessarily love. A lot of our furniture pieces are things that I've had for twenty years and repainted twenty times along the way. We're slowly replacing these pieces with ones that we can carry around for the next twenty years.
Proudest DIY: The whole thing! We put so much time and love in the house, and I think that shows more than anything else. When we tell people we renovated, they naturally assume that we hired someone to do the work. It's only when we show them pictures of the house before that they begin to understand. As we like to say, we did everything but hang the sheetrock. (Yes, we did the plumbing, electric, structural...)
Biggest Indulgence: Our marble countertops. I fought for those babies! People are always warning you about marble in the kitchen because it so easily etches and stains, but I say that even the most etched and stained marble is more beautiful than a mint slab of granite. Of course, once everyone agreed to let me have marble in our own kitchen, I went for the most beautiful—and expensive—one. My parents still talk about how our counters singlehandedly broke the budget! After two years of constant use, I wouldn't change a thing. Our countertops and the story they tell through use have become a metaphor for our daily lives. It's a beautiful thing.
Best Advice: DIY! If you want it, do it yourself. You can save so much money by doing the work yourself, and the experience of learning something new or conquering a challenge is unbeatable. If you're scared to try alone, ask a friend for help.
Dream Sources: All the antiques and shiny things from all over the world! Every time I travel, I imagine buying a house and decorating it in the style of that region or country. In my budget-less dream house, I would have textiles from Tanzania, furniture from Scandinavia, antiques from the coasts, pottery from the Southwest, and endless Turkish rugs.
Table — Flea Market, Nickle and Wood Furniture, Nashville, TN
Mirror – Antique from Craigslist
Runner – Etsy
Cacti – Hewitt
Antique Cabinet – Found in home and refinished
Accent wall – Stencil from Royal Design Studio
Coffee Table – Built by us with wood from Springfield, TN
Wingback Chair and Bucket Chair — Vintage Craigslist finds
Ashik Wool Rug — West Elm
Mirrors – Antiques from thrift store and estate sale
Antique Poster Bed — Craigslist find
Quilt – Anthropologie
Duvet – Target
Rug — Craigslist find