Jimmy and Betty Barton Blythe became enamored with the Monteagle Mountain
community while their daughter was a student at the University of the South.
Home DesignTo form an entryway, the Blythes erected walls in what was formerly a living area to create a foyer and dining space. The foyer walls were designed with a 4-foot, lighted alcove specifically built to hold this hand-carved sideboard. Photos by Susan Pierce
The Alabama couple retired to Sewanee, Tenn., in 1998, settling into a home
that seamlessly blends with the beauty of its wooded surroundings. Four
years ago they began a remodeling project that repurposed rooms and
increased living space to accommodate their love for entertaining as well as
treasured collections of antique furnishings, books and photos.
Mrs. Blythe turned to Susan LeSourd, whom she had met through a mutual
acquaintance, for assistance in sourcing fabrics and redecorating her rooms.
The result of their collaboration is a savvy juxtaposition of natural
materials (wood and stone), textured fabrics and soft, serene tones. The
decor neither detracts from the exterior grandeur of the mountain setting
nor the interior's elegant Federal and English antique pieces.
Here are four ways the Blythes created a home that interacts with its
To fully capture the impressive view at the rear of the house, the former
screened porch was replaced with a spacious living room whose back wall is
an impressive expanse of glass from floor to vaulted ceiling.
Oak flooring was installed throughout the house during the remodel. The Blythes expanded the use of oak in the living room, incorporating oak
paneling and custom built-in shelving. The result is the illusion of little
break between the wood of the room and that of the mountain forest beyond the wall of windows.
LeSourd chose a linen velvet sofa in a rich chocolate brown to anchor the
spacious living area. The sofa's color complements upholstered accent chairs in creams and earth tones. A bold Shumacher Tree of Life fabric on side chairs and pillows ties all colors together.
The beautiful berry-red Oriental rug told us to add a large, inviting sofa
in a luscious brown ... mossy greens and vibrant golds were also added,
LeSourd said. The room is an interesting blend of textures. It combines glass windows, oak
floor and paneling with marble insets in a wood-and-metal-framed sofa table.
Nearby the sofa is a massive, 8-foot French cabinet that Blythe believes
probably held priests' vestments and altar pieces.
Blythe adds warmth to her home by prominently displaying family
treasures. The first artwork visitors see entering the new entry foyer is an oil piece by their daughter, Ellen Fennel Blythe.
The Blythes removed everything from the living room's built-ins, then
LeSourd organized and replaced books intermingled with interesting accent pieces. The result is a look that's uncluttered, functional and a showcase for a collection of volumes.
A bedroom hallway was transformed into a photo gallery when the couple had more than 50 family photos framed for hanging.
Antique furnishings passed to the Blythes from their parents add elegance throughout the house, but the heavy statement pieces are softened with judicious fabric choices in light neutral shades.
Layering old with new adds visual interest to every room.
Incredible antique chests are next to new upholstery. Botanical prints are
next to original oil paintings by the Blythes' daughter. Delicate bird nests
sit next to antique books. It's layered but not cluttered, said LeSourd.
It's this mix ‹ sophisticated yet inviting ‹ that gives this house soul.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...