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Project House Reveal in Franklin, Tennessee

Project House Reveal in Franklin, Tennessee

Franklin Tennessee Project House exterior

It’s all finished, so come take a tour!

It’s a wrap! We’re so excited to unveil our completed farm cottage remodel Project House in Franklin, Tennessee. After so many months of planning and hard work by the design and build team, Matt and Kara Christensen of Garden Gate Homes, we’re finally ready to reveal the whole house.

Franklin Tennessee Project House exterior
Designer and builder Kara Christensen wanted the home’s exterior to stand out from the white homes on the street. Blue was one of the homeowners’ favorite colors, so she painted sample shades on the house. “They absolutely loved the blues, especially with the brass lighting fixtures,” she says. “We removed the aluminum siding and vinyl shutters, as those are a big no-no for a historical home.” New custom-painted shutters with louvers from Shuttercraft and rocking chairs from Troutman Chairs are pretty as well as practical.

Project House in Franklin, Tennessee: Renovation Central

Some of the major renovations of the Project House in Franklin, Tennessee included increasing the size of the primary bedroom and adding a laundry room, mudroom and side porch. Matt and Kara moved some of the rooms around to accommodate the homeowners’ needs, while maintaining as much of the home’s original footprint as possible, including the kitchen, primary bedroom, dining room and living room.

Project House living room
The Garden Gate team added a new fireplace to the living room, reusing salvaged brick from a nearby demolition. Kara designed the oak shelves to include a gallery shelf atop a standard book-depth shelf so the homeowner can display artwork and taller decorative items below.
Project House bar
The homeowners wanted a bar under the stairway, so Kara designed shelves to fit their glasses and bottle collection. The whitewash allows the glassware and accessories to be in the spotlight. Riverbend Home amber glassware perfectly coordinates with the ambience of the room.

Kara designed the Project House in Franklin, Tennessee with an old-meets-new approach. She wanted to keep the vintage character while incorporating modern touches to give it a fresh look.

Project House kitchen
The homeowners wanted a classic white kitchen, so Kara designed the large island in a stained oak to make sure the heart of the home was warm and inviting.

Since the kitchen wasn’t adjacent to a dining room, she wanted the island to look like an oversized farmhouse table. Stools in caramel leather are a perfect complement. White oak flooring by Mullican Flooring is an easy wood to stain, which now match the original pine floors in some of the connecting rooms. “A large brass backplate and crystal knob from Emtek complete the historic look, and their brass hardware warms up the white cabinetry,” Kara says. “Riverbend Home had everything we needed for styling the cookware. Hanging their Curves de France copper pans from a brass rail under the hood instantly brought charm to the kitchen.”

The homeowners wanted a neutral color palette, so Kara used textures and subtle patterns to add interest to the décor. Accents such as velvet curtains, plants and vintage items complemented key pieces like reclaimed wood furniture and brick fireplaces with colors the homeowners find cozy.

Franklin Tennessee Project House exterior
 The house needed new shutters, so Kara used Shuttercraft to create custom shutters that accent the blue exterior and add to the historic look of the home.

Outer Space

The home’s exterior shows careful attention to detail as well. “We had a custom flower box made for the front window,” Kara says. “I designed the box to extend past the bottom windows to offset the upper window in the front gable, choosing taller end plants to flank each side of the window. That large flower box makes a big statement, welcoming guests approaching the home along the walkway with beautiful flowers at eye level with a sweet fragrance.” On the side porch, Kara worked her magic to include a mix of new and vintage, including a new brick fireplace by Cherokee Brick that still echoes the vintage brick inside.

Garden Gate family
The Garden Gate build and design team (from left to right): daughter Chloe helps with social media, mood boards and interior design; husband Matt, aka Mr. Garden Gate (“the nicest and hardest-working builder in town in my opinion,” Kara says); wife Kara, designer in the all-encompassing role of a builder’s wife; son Levi, who helps his dad with everything from demo to budgets, (“he’s the brains of the family,” Kara says); and daughter Alexa, who now works full-time with the family as a designer, and also manages their shop Homes by Garden Gate in downtown Franklin.
Adjacent to the guest suite is a potting shed. “We converted this storage space,” Kara says. She used reclaimed wood from another project to panel the walls, and then brightened the room with a terra cotta pink ceiling. “I found a sweet Italian tole light fixture to hang and an old worktable to use. Then I filled it with all things vintage garden.”

Final Thoughts

When assessing the completed Project House in Franklin, Tennessee, Kara points to the elements that are practical as well as pretty standouts. “I think my favorite design aspects of this project were the many little nooks we designed to serve a purpose for the homeowners, as well as to make a visual contribution to the home’s character and ambience,” she says. “The eating nook, the coffee bar, the pantry, the stairway nook, the added dormer and transom in the guest bedroom to fit a study desk underneath, and even the flower arrangement center in the laundry room. They were all very tiny spaces that had a very big impact on the home’s design and function.”

four poster bed in Project House
wooden rocking chair and floral curtains
Kara designed the primary bedroom with vintage and new details. “With such strong statement pieces as the Thos. Moser Pencil Post bed’s simple yet elegant design, along with the Thos. Moser rocking chair, the room doesn’t need much else,” Kara says. “I added an antique pine chest, antique Eastlake side tables, brass plug-in wall sconces and draperies for a splash of warm color.”
Project House guest suite
Project House guest suite
The guest suite Kara and Matt built also has vintage flair. “Creating a guest suite with a colorful cottage feel was fun, but styling it with those gorgeous cranberry tulips blooming across the walls in Laura Ashley’s mural wallpaper was even more so,” Kara says. “We created a cozy feminine vibe by mixing leather and velvet pieces, antique pine chest of drawers, a cheetah-print fabric coffee table and silk draperies with antique lace curtains to filter the light.” The bed by Charles P. Rogers is new, but has vintage vibes and fits perfectly in the room.
guest bedroom in farm cottage Project House
The farm cottage has several guest bedrooms, such as this one. Kara infused both new and old details into the design, such as the Thos. Moser chair and accompanying vintage pieces.
French country inspired bedroom
A dormer was built into the guestroom to create a more livable space. Kara added a transom window to the wall to break up the siding on the exterior view of the dormer, and bring more light into the bedroom. An antique bed dressed with soft linens and custom-made ruffled pillows makes the room extra cozy.
neutral bedroom in Project House
home office desk
Project House bathroom
For the bathroom in the guest suite, Kara selected a Laura Ashley patterned tile floor with a vintage appeal to help this new bathroom feel quaint. “The pattern has the charm of the old linoleum floors but also an elegant flair, which coordinated perfectly with the antique chest we had restored to use as a vanity,” she says. “The Laura Ashley wallpaper, with its subtle floral design, crocheted-edge blush rug and antique oil floral painting all add layers of character.”

Kara also reflected on what made the Project House in Franklin, Tennessee special to work on. “Each home we work on is unique, each with its own challenges and hurdles to overcome and each with its own charm and beauty,” she says. “For this sweet home, we had to overcome a challenging budget, which required some creativity, but we also had some wonderful surprises, like antique pine floors with a rich patina, beautiful burgundy brick discovered under cheap tile, and quarter-sawn oak found under layers and layers of paint. Those memories of special discoveries always set each renovation project apart, as they are always unique to that home.”

Project House eating nook
The eating nook is just off the kitchen for a relaxed, low-key area to have lunch. The vertical wainscoting uses trim from Woodgrain, with several wall sconces above for convenient lighting in the space.
Project House bathroom
For the bathroom in the guest suite, Kara selected a Laura Ashley patterned tile floor with a vintage appeal to help this new bathroom feel quaint. “The pattern has the charm of the old linoleum floors but also an elegant flair, which coordinated perfectly with the antique chest we had restored to use as a vanity,” she says. “The Laura Ashley wallpaper, with its subtle floral design, crocheted-edge blush rug and antique oil floral painting all add layers of character.”
Project House kitchen
“The laundry room on the plans called for an alley cabinet layout with no sink, but the homeowners loved my idea of redesigning the layout into an ‘L’ shape to be able to include an apron-front sink in front of the window,” Kara says. This left an open spot for a furniture piece they could use for storage. “I styled the room with an antique pine dry sink that serves as a place to pot plants and trim flowers for arrangements,” Kara says. “I have found that in older homes without a lot of space, creating multifunctional rooms makes them more livable.”

“This was the first time our family has worked on a home with a magazine as a partner,” Kara says. “We will never forget how lovely all the people were at American Farmhouse Style magazine!”

farmhouse style kitchen in Franklin Tennessee Project House
 The living room now opens into the new addition, which includes the kitchen and an eating nook. With its vintage-inspired gold color, the sofa was the anchor of the living space, and blends modern living with historic appeal. “To ensure the new open space didn’t seem too modern compared to the original smaller rooms of the house, we incorporated details like trim from Woodgrain that matched the original trim of the house, a wood beam room divider in the nook, and a Thos. Moser end table to add more character,” Kara says.
Franklin Tennessee Project House garage
The exterior got a facelift too, with the Raynor Garage Door RockCreeke Swing-Out garage door. It’s the perfect farm cottage look, replicating the look of real wood but with a durable polyurethane insulated steel-door base.
Project House outdoor dining
On the patio next to the guest suite, Kara designed and styled an outdoor dining space. The Big Green Egg is a grill that blends into the landscape and is so much prettier to look at than a traditional stainless-steel grill.
Kara set up a vintage garden table and chairs outside the little potting shed, painted the door in a terra cotta pink, planted rosemary and cone flowers in vintage pots, and hung crocheted café curtains in the windows for a lived-in feel to the back of the garage.
Project House side porch
“The side porch is very spacious, so I styled it with a farmhouse dining table, including a bench and some old wood chairs, and Troutman rocking chairs flanking the fireplace by Cherokee Brick,” Kara says. The woven cane detail in this rocking chair is a charming feature that’s also practical—the design is the original Kennedy rocking chair that President John F. Kennedy used to relieve lower back pain.
Project House backyard
 A little rust doesn’t hurt. Outside the potting shed, Kara added a vintage table and chair set, alongside an old bird bath and charming rope swing. This is now a great area to extend the party beyond the patio and dining area.

Curious about other years' Project Houses? See Our 2019 Project House Reveal. Looking for more design inspiration from Franklin, Tennessee? Read on for A Designer’s DIY Renovation in Tennessee and Antiques Shops in Franklin, Tennessee.

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