Renovating a home is usually associated with making a house more modern, improving it and making it liveable for its current homeowners, whether that's removing a popcorn ceiling, updating appliances, or creating an open floor plan where there was none. For duo Jaclyn Journey and Amanda Jacobs of the design firm Journey + Jacobs, the task at hand was a little more complicated. After a fairly "cookie cutter" renovation by another company, how do you embrace the history of one of the oldest homes in Louisville, Kentucky, without sacrificing modernity?
The home, built in the 1790s, is in the trendy neighborhood of Butchertown. The current owners purchased it with the dream of converting it into a "social house," a place for specifically women and non-binary people to relax, work, or just hang out, calling the property "The Butcher Rose." Journey and Jacobs were tasked with designing the space for today's comforts without discounting the history of the property.
"Priority number one was to restore it to a more natural state and add antique touches throughout without removing our modern conveniences," Jacobs says.
No sweat, right?
"The previous renovation, although done well, didn’t highlight the beauty and age of the building and had a modern farmhouse style," Jacobs explains. "We wanted to emphasize the age of the home with its original moldings and gorgeous original details that were reminiscent of the late 1700s, early 1800s."
Priority number one was to restore it to a more natural state and add antique touches throughout without removing our modern conveniences.
To help celebrate the original style of the home, the duo brought in antique lighting, added plenty of lime wash paint for texture and warmth, and painted moldings and trim. Never ones to shy away from a pattern, the duo hung mural-inspired wallpaper, a nod to the Colonial-style roots of the home, in the kitchen. As a special touch, they also added a display of old horse ribbons as a sweet tribute to Kentucky life.
Renovating a home never comes without its challenges, and this property was no different with only three to four months to redesign the entire property. Given supply chain issues, most furniture was sourced locally or found in vintage shops. The team also learned a very important lesson to always double check measurements given by installers to make sure you have enough product for your project.
"In the kitchen, the wallpaper only came in one length, so we hung from the ceiling down and then added a molding at the base of the wallpaper and painted below that to give the illusion of a taller baseboard and hide the fact that the wallpaper wasn't long enough," Jacobs explains. "For the age of the home, it was perfectly appropriate for tall baseboards, so it was a nice finishing touch."
In the closed concept floor plan of a Colonial-style home, it was important to Journey and Jacobs that each room had its own personality, but also feel like each space worked with the rest of the home.
"We differentiated rooms by focusing on color and that’s what inspired the direction for each space, ultimately calling rooms 'the blue room', 'the pink room,' 'the purple room,' etc," Jacobs says. "We used antique books and lots of vintage accessories like tea pots, antique silver pieces, floral vases and hat boxes, various pottery and brass pieces as well. We also included some original pieces that were found in the basement like an old photo album, camera and cigar within the shelves to display."
Those personal touches combined with vintage furniture and a soothing color palette make the space feel instantly homey, one of the team's main goals.
"At one time, the house was probably used for lots of entertaining and hospitality, so our desire was to bring it back to its glory and have it live that way once again," Jacobs explains. "It was about making a space that is considered a mansion, feel smaller, to not be overwhelming."
When the home was first built, Jacobs believes it was likely more formal than comfortable, so it was important to her to find "the balance between refinement and casualness."
"We care more today about a home being comfortable than just pretty," Jacobs explains. "Because of that, you would be able to curl up with a book and light a candle and not feel like you couldn’t put your feet up," an important quality to a space meant for relaxation and unplugging from the world.
At one time, the house was probably used for lots of entertaining and hospitality, so our desire was to bring it back to its glory and have it live that way once again.
Though Journey and Jacobs are inspired by many things including nature, magazines, and lots of travel, it's their clients who give them the most initial inspiration for each project. Each client's personality is very different, leading to the ultimate jumping off point for great design.
"It’s never about trends, but driven by how the space reads to us, the functionality behind the space and how we can bring organic and natural elements that don't feel foreign to our clients," Jacobs explains. "We love incorporating personal items, sentimental elements and things that feel unique but not off-putting. Generally, we tend to love vintage accent pieces and are drawn towards things that have aged but are still beautiful."
Though every designer may look back on a project and want to change something, these designers follow a mantra of "Go with your gut."
"Ultimately, the collection of colors, patterns and texture all together is our favorite part," Jacobs explains. "How it all melded together and was still unique and eclectic, but felt warm and familiar. It’s a hard mix to accomplish and this home really had all of those elements combined."