A 100-Year-Old Nashville Bungalow Boasts Historic Charm with Modern Flair

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Living room with 2 off white/gray loveseats with black square coffee table between, sisal neutral rug, white walls, white bookshelves with books, gray stone fireplace, black overhead modern light fixture, wood floors, 2 large windows with sheer white curtains
Credit: Lynch Orr
I used a neutral foundation for the living room with twin wheat-colored couches, picking up gray and black from the fireplace. The artwork called for medium blue as an accent. This room sets the tone for my home with a mix of antique, vintage, and contemporary pieces.

Lynch Orr has been renting this Nashville two-bedroom place for two-and-a-half years: During one of the early “pauses” in the pandemic, I decided to look for a new place. That Sunday morning, I found a new listing for a compact craftsman bungalow in a great neighborhood. By Monday, I had a move-in date.

Credit: Lynch Orr
From the front door, you can see all the way through the house. Because the rooms are open to each other, I kept the design cohesive by repeating colors, shapes, texture, and chose furnishings that complement the adjacent spaces.

I love vintage spaces, and this one is near perfect (for me). At almost 100 years old, it’s full of original details like oak floors, windows with old, wavy glass, plaster walls, and high ceilings. It’s got all the quirks a century brings, too — not a straight line anywhere, an eccentric bathroom, and only one real closet. I converted the second bedroom to a walk-in closet and it’s actually kind of great.

Credit: Lynch Orr
The den gets the best natural light out of all the rooms. This is one of my favorite views.

There’s plenty of room to entertain, despite the small footprint, and great work-from-home space (I work remotely for a provider of continuing education for medical professionals). The neighborhood is charming, leafy, and full of beautiful old homes. Some have been renovated and some are still waiting for their turn.

Credit: Lynch Orr
In the kitchen, I added floating shelves, custom roman shades, and new cabinet hardware. I also painted the walls white (formerly robin’s egg blue), but the ceiling was painted black before I moved in. The ceiling and the black and white checked floors dictated the rest of the décor.

I studied visual art from childhood through college, with primary interests in drawing, photography, and graphic design. I think that experience shows up in my choices of art, lighting, and furnishings. I tend to compose vignettes like a photograph. Each object in my home was hand selected and displayed with intention.

Tone and scale really impact how I experience a space.

Describe your home’s style in five words or fewer: Collected, tailored, layered, textural, inviting.

Credit: Lynch Orr
The den also serves as my office with a 19th century writing desk reflecting the house’s patina, juxtaposed with modern elements. I incorporated organic materials and texture in the rug and other textiles as a consistent design element throughout the house.

What is your favorite room and why? I spend most of my time in the den. It gets the best natural light in the house, plus that’s where my work space is located and where I watch television. However, I really like my living room for entertaining, reading, or listening to music — especially when cold weather comes and I can enjoy the fireplace.

Credit: Lynch Orr
I’ve had the rustic, late Victorian dining table for almost 40 years. I love the mix of old and new.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I like browsing 1st Dibs, maybe more than is healthy, and picked up a very old grain storage jar (ca. 1500) from Tokoname in Japan. It’s holding pride of place on my dining room table at the moment.

Credit: Lynch Orr
The small bedroom comfortably holds a queen-sized bed and other appropriately scaled pieces. I limited the color palette for a calm, relaxed atmosphere.

Any advice for creating a home you love? I’m probably not qualified to advise anyone about decorating their personal space, but these tips worked for me.

  • Buy what speaks loudest to you. Over time, you’ll collect treasures that reveal your personal style. I still have the first piece of antique furniture I ever bought, as well as the first piece of “real” art in my humble collection (P.S.: ALL art is “real.” Go get some!)
  • Invest big money in classic foundational furniture pieces. Go “cheap” on the latest trend, whatever it is, and use only in small doses. Spend money in things you touch or sit on.
  • Speaking of trends, avoid going “all in” on themed decor. Similarly, please don’t buy entire suites of matching furniture.
Credit: Lynch Orr
My tiny, claustrophobic, slightly eccentric bathroom came with plenty of “quirky” vintage style.
  • Edit! Just because you own a thing, doesn’t mean you must use it. If it’s not working or there’s no room, store it until you can use it or get rid of it. William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
  • Beware of visual clutter caused by too many colors in a given space. Feel free to get bold, but consider that a tight space calls for a tight color palette. Try the 60/30/10 rule for choosing colors.
  • Renters probably shouldn’t buy site-specific pieces … like the giant mid-century sectional I bought a few years ago. Consider how and where you’ll use an item, now and in the future.
  • Oh, yeah — feel free to make mistakes. Make lots of mistakes. That’s how we learn.
  • Most important of all, do what makes you happy. It’s your home, after all.
Credit: Lynch Orr


This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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