Unexpected combinations can make for the most sublime of pairings. In an era of musical mashups — and a time when Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are still working together — we just can’t get enough of different styles interacting with magical results. That’s just what designer Hannah Crowell had up her sleeve when she decided to incorporate a taste of the Scottish Highlands into a farmhouse project in middle Tennessee.

By blending old and new with color, playful patterns, and a good helping of rock ‘n roll — Crowell is the granddaughter of Johnny Cash — she infused the space with a one-of-a-kind ambiance that’s both high-design and homey. Traditional antiques sit beside pieces upholstered in practical performance fabrics — this is a working farm with children, after all — to create a design that’s welcoming, livable, and thoughtfully curated all at once. Read on to learn more about the project.

Wall-mounted string instruments hang above raw wood chest and vase of wheat.
A musically inspired tableau from the living room

This home was a departure for you… you worked with much more traditional items for the Pinewood house than with your typical work. Why was that?

I typically approach new projects from a more modern perspective, so yes, this was somewhat of a departure for me. It was important to me to give this cabin a sense of place through design, and that called for a more traditional approach. At the very beginning of the project, I was in the process of planning a trip to Scotland with my children, so I had been looking at a lot of Scottish farmhouses in the Highlands. I think that imagery really informed the design. Ultimately I feel like we ended up with a Scottish-infused farmhouse in middle Tennessee. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on paper, but then again my designs rarely do!

Kids bedroom with patterned blue wallpaper, hanging birdcage, and matching twin beds.
The kids’ bedroom

Even though you used traditional pieces, the home still has a lot of color and a true sense of fun. How do you accomplish that?

It was fun finding the traditional pieces, but I wanted to offset them with lots of color and pattern in the wallpapers and textiles. For example, in the kids’ bedroom I liked the idea of woodsy toile wallpaper but wanted to give it a fun twist. I found a toile that depicted a wooded Japanese landscape with canoeing bears, pagodas, and fish kites. I absolutely loved the contrast between the two settings.

rustic kitchen with raw wood dining table and kitchen island with teal cabinets and brass lighting fixtures.
The kitchen

This home is about an hour outside of Nashville… Did that affect your design choices? How does a sense of place affect your plans for a home?

This is a 3,000-acre working cattle farm that sits alongside the Piney River. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. So the setting was incredibly important in that I wanted it to be a part of the design without being kitschy. I used a lot of botanical patterns and vintage oil portraits of wildlife as a subtle nod to the working farm. I also had to be more intentional about flooring and fabrics. This is a place where you get dirty and kids run wild. I had to make sure the fabrics were durable and could take a beating. 

Bathroom with floral wallpaper and blush basin tub and wicker accent chair
The main bathroom, featuring a pink claw foot tub

What most surprised you about this particular project? Were there any design decisions you made along the way that you didn’t expect at the beginning? 

If you ever told me that I would one day design a little skirt under a kitchen sink, I would say that you’d lost your mind. That was not the original plan, but when I fell in love with Radish Moon’s Radish print fabric, I thought, “Why not just take this next level and have a sink skirt.” That was out of character!  I would say that the main bathroom was another plot twist. I don’t often use claw foot tubs nor paint them a rosy pink, but I am obsessed with that bathroom and the tub especially.

Bedroom with carved black fourposter bed and floral drapes
The main bedroom

How would you describe your decorating style in general?

For lack of a better description I call it modern bohemian. I like things to feel unstructured yet thoughtful and curated. 

What are your favorite searches on Chairish?

We buy A LOT of art from Chairish. I have found some of my favorite pieces on the site. Also, rugs and side chairs are constant searches. I have also bought several ship dioramas from Chairish. My search history is unconventional at best.

Rustic living room with fan chandelier, leather couch, and patterned upholstered furniture
The living room

Are there any particular pieces on the site (or styles of pieces) that you have your eye on right now?

I am in the process of collecting vintage Thonet chairs to reupholster for my own dining room. I just used this print by John Vias at the Virgin Hotel in Nashville and I LOVE it. I want one for my own home. I am also absolutely obsessed with these shelled busts! And I have to order one of these 3D artworks right now, I think.

Are there any antiques that you purchase and keep, waiting for the right project to come along for them? 

Too many to list. Mostly accessories and styling pieces because when you see something great you have to snatch it up! I also usually have three or four vintage rugs in my studio at any given time that are awaiting homes. 

Wood surface with framed painting, antique lamp, and potted plant
A close-up from the living room

What kinds of vintage pieces are you most likely to buy for yourself and for your own use?

The other day I bought these enormous shell candlestick holders that make me feel like I live in a chic beachside villa in Anguilla. I also bought a civil rights protest poster from 1967 that felt like an important purchase in today’s environment. 

Any vintage shopping tips for newbies (or even experts) in terms of making sure you find the exact right pieces?

If it’s something you are investing in, do your research. Make sure it’s authentic and in good shape. There are a lot of replicas being touted as originals floating about. If you are buying less expensive items, then buy what you love and makes you happy. I am constantly buying vintage pieces without a clue where they will end up. What I love about vintage is that it brings a uniqueness and character to a space that something off the shelves just can’t. 

October 1, 2020

Dennis Sarlo is the executive editor of Chairish and a lover of all things design-related. Prior to joining the team, he served as the executive editor of Dering Hall and was the first site director of Architectural Digest. He was also part of the founding team of travel startup Jetsetter. He lives in New York.