Tina Wilson's Striking Style

Tina Wilson's Striking Style

Sarah Dobbins
May 25, 2012

Name: Tina of Tina Wilson Photography
Location: Johnson City, TN
Size: 3500 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; owned

At first glance, Tina's studio-home looks like every other normal, suburban home. Except for the fact that there are no beds, there are portraits covering the walls, and oh yeah — there's a reception desk in the living room! This is Tina Wilson's office-house; she set it up to not only make her clients feel welcome and at home, but to show them how portraits can work in an interior design setting. She has an innate sense of design, and marries her unique style to her passion for encouraging folks to surround themselves with images that speak to them, remind them of who they are and those they love.

With a brilliant smile, unflinching honesty, and unbridled passion for documenting families and relationships, Tina is a class act. She left the high-profile wedding photography circuit to pursue her own success story — and she's not only succeeded, she has blossomed. A genuinely introspective and spiritual thinker, Tina has crafted her home-away-from-home around the people most important to her success — her clients.

Tina moved her business from an urban downtown location to this quiet, homey street several years ago; she wanted her clients to be able to identify with the images on the walls, to be able to envision them in their own homes. The home had been previously set up for offices, so they had a lot of demolition work to do before they could begin building their vision.

Refinishing this 1935 home had some challenges, but lots of rewards. The challenges: the consequences of owning a 77-year old home — faulty plumbing (partly due to tree roots busting through some pipes!) and drafty walls and windows. The rewards: Tina was able to control all of the elements of creating an environment that would help her mission thrive, and she was able to do it all within the walls of a place with lots and lots of character. She also discovered original hardwood floors under the old blue berber carpeting that came with the house — a definite bonus!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A little bit classic, a little bit rock n' roll. I love an updated classic look with an unexpected twist of whimsy.

Inspiration: Fleeting moments in life and relationships (mine and those around me) and passionate people.

Favorite Element: I love the architectural character… the trim, the beveled glass in the windows, the french doors inside and the little nooks throughout the house.

Biggest Challenge: The upstairs. We have 3 offices, an ordering room and a very bad shoot space (bad as in very, very tight). I would love to tell you about how we've worked that out, but it's very much to be continued…

What Friends Say: I want my house to look like this.

Proudest DIY: In the basement, we found old window screens that were attached to the house at some point. We made a "wall grouping" with them and attached cork board to the screens and made a really cool bulletin board wall. We also found the french doors that are currently hanging in the main lobby area going into the dining/planning room in the basement as well.

Biggest Indulgence: Oof. We invested pretty heavily in the front desk and lighting box for our waiting area in the front room. We wanted to make a statement as people walked in the door that this is a place of businesss. It's not (at all) the style I wanted, but a top priority in remodeling was to stay true to the integrity of the architectural style, all the while marrying a modern twist with functionality. It works.

Best Advice: One room at a time, decide how the room will be used, who will use it most and what activities will take place while they are there. What do you want them to feel when they enter for the first time and then after being there for awhile? Answering those questions led us to our color palette, style of furniture, comfort/welcoming levels and lighting for each room.

Dream Sources: My answer could change weekly on this one, but currently… Currey Lighting, Restoration Hardware, Aiden Gray, Revival Uncommon Goods.

Resources of Note:


    • Living Room : Intellectual Gray
    • Family Room : Porpoise
    • Kitchen : Shoji White and Chalkboard
    • Hallway : Intellectual Gray
    • Downstairs bath : Garrett Gray
    • Upstairs landing : Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray
    • Upstairs office : wall paper
    • Viewing room : Accessible Beige
    • Upstairs bath : Snowbound


    • Sofa : Braden's Lifestyle
    • Chairs : Braden's Lifestyle
    • Tables : Target


    • Sofa : Ikea
    • Chairs : Ikea
    • Other pieces : Pier 1


    • Table and chairs : Local off-brand store


    • Sink console table : Target; had hole cut and my dad attached a sink and faucet purchased from Overstock.com.


    • Desk : cheapy off-brand; we tore the top off and found an old door for $10 at an antique store in town for the new top.


    • Furniture : Ikea

Thanks, Tina!

(Images: Sarah Dobbins)

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