When newlyweds Paige and Walter Scott bought a Mountain Brook Tudor two decades ago, they were charmed by the 1933 cottage. It had lots of character, arched doorways, and a petite front façade that belied its five-bedroom, four-bath interior. “It felt homey but gave us plenty of room for our growing family,” Paige says. “However, 15 years later, we realized the wiring, plumbing, and fixtures were all really old. We thought about selling, but we love the location and the house so much that we decided to renovate.”
With a long list of things they wanted to change, the couple called on trusted professionals who knew their family and how they lived—architect Lissy Frese (Walter’s cousin) and designer Aimee Belden (Paige’s longtime friend). “One of my priorities was to create more closet space,” says Paige. Also on the list were an updated master bath; an open-plan kitchen and den; private baths for each bedroom upstairs; and maximizing the gorgeous valley views from the back of the house. “The Scotts were full of ideas and creative solutions,” Lissy says. “The project was a major undertaking that required gutting the middle of the house.” It also required the family to move out.
While the new master suite, kitchen, den, back deck, and other changes were underway, Paige and Aimee went to work designing gorgeous interiors for the renovation. They shopped for some new items, such as the den’s Charles Stewart chairs, the living room’s upholstered furniture from Circa, and the dining room chandelier from Dennis & Leen. In addition, they had some pieces custom made, including the breakfast table by Michael Morrow of MDM Design Studio, the master bedroom’s nightstands by Village Woodworks, and the living room’s coffee table made from a remnant found at Stone Concepts. Local iron maker Rusty Heaton created the base for the coffee table, as well as the railings for the stairway.
The Scotts also had a number of family heirlooms and other existing pieces that they wanted to incorporate. “To help bring this mixture of pieces together and keep the house from feeling heavy, we painted the walls white, used light fabrics, and added thoughtful, high-end details,” Aimee says. And the friends weren’t afraid to also mix in a few items with lower price points, such as the gold lamp and gold cubes from Target on the screened porch.
Finally, after two-plus years of planning and a year of construction, the project’s end result more than fulfilled the Scotts’ wish list. “The expertise that Aimee and Lissy brought to this project was key to keeping the character of the house while also making it comfortable for our family for the next 15 years,” says Paige.
Live for Today
Add a powder room. Give your guests a dedicated bath on the main floor. The Scotts’ new powder room was formerly a closet. It has a pocket door to save on space and offers a visual wow with bold wallpaper and a striking soapstone sink surround.
Capture the view. Rearrange walls and openings so that living spaces capture the best your lot has to offer. Before, the Scotts’ main-floor configuration offered the views in the bedrooms. Now, the stunning vistas are glimpsed immediately from the front door and soaked in from the den, kitchen, deck, and master suite.
Make outdoor living areas usable. The Scotts love to entertain. Before, the open deck was too hot in the intense summer sun. Now covered, the space offers fans when the temps soar and heaters when they dip, making the area usable for three seasons.
Bring the laundry room into the light. Who says the laundry room has to be hidden away in your home’s darkest recesses? Before, the Scotts’ laundry was tucked into a windowless corner of the basement. Now, it has main-floor billing in what was the kitchen, complete with natural light and an exterior door.
Aimee Belden Talks Interiors
Design Philosophy My goal is to create a beautiful environment that fits my clients’ lifestyles. Sometimes we incorporate heirloom pieces alongside new items; other times we start from scratch.
Budget Matters You can make a home pretty regardless of budget, if you are clever. If you can afford one standout piece of furniture, an original artwork, and a gorgeous fabric, then you can create a magnificent room. I always try to incorporate a special fabric, even if it’s only on a pillow.
Sure Things My favorite local sources are Circa, Argent, Table Matters, and Susu’s Petals. I also like to incorporate some budget items I find online at All Modern, CB2, and Restoration Hardware.
On the Road When I travel, I try to observe everything around me to stay fresh and aware of new trends. I don’t want to get stuck in a rut.
Before: 4,671 square feet
“The existing house was a classic English Tudor built in a time when the kitchen was a back-of-house area,” architect Lissy Frese says. Designer Aimee Belden adds, “It was a charming house that had plenty of space, but it did not flow well.” Previous renovations opened the kitchen’s eat-in area to an enclosed, windowless den and added a master suite to the rear of the house. Guests had to use the Scotts’ daughter’s bathroom on the main floor, and the two upstairs bedrooms shared a bath.
After: 5,651 square feet
“The renovation opened the house up to much more comfortable living spaces,” Lissy says. “The existing formal living and dining were unchanged since they were perfectly sized and situated in the house.” The architect reconfigured the kitchen, den, stairwell, and master suite and also moved the laundry from the basement to the main floor. A covered deck now extends from the den and kitchen and captures sunset views. Upstairs, the two bedrooms now have their own baths. And in the basement, a new garage space sized for today’s vehicles tucks under the new master suite.
Interior Design: Aimee Belden, Belden Designs, LLC, 205.613.1341 Architect: Lissy Frese, CCR Architecture & Interiors, ccrarchitecture.com, 205.324.8864 Landscape: Gary Webb, garyawebbhorticulturalist.com, 205.655.7974 Pillows and window treatments: Theodore’s Custom Interiors by Tammy Horstead 205.663.0417 Kitchen hardware: Avondale Specialty Hardware, avondalespecialtyhardware.com Den rugs: Nashville Rug Gallery, nashvilleruggallery.com, 615.484.1719 Powder room soapstone counter/backsplash: Stone Concepts, 205.836.6425