This house is where I first met interior designer Rachel Halvorson. It was long before I knew about her incredible studio space just a few blocks from my house, but I remember quietly taking note of the attention to design detail and being a bit in awe of this talented young trendsetter. I was co-hosting an event for a Champagne partner client a couple of years ago at the home of Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook and Rachel was onsite helping to fluff the setting prior to the party. The interiors already seemed perfect, but she was discovering little ways to tweak items and placement so that the end result was jaw-dropping perfection when it came time to greet the first guests. It was a magical night.
As Rachel’s personal space was featured in our fourth issue and two of our once featured Little Big Town members are her clients, it seemed only fitting to showcase just a peek of how she helped them transform an outdated home into a house worthy of a movie set. This is just one example as I have seen other homes that are hardly recognizable once she’s worked a little magic. That is definitely the case of this house, which she and the owners both lovingly call TammyWood.
She had been looking at dozens of houses with Karen and Jimi prior to walking into this one, which just happened to be previously owned by country music legend Tammy Wynette. Maybe the music connection was fate, but the structure held an immediate attraction for both her and the couple. They knew it was ‘the’ house despite the dated finishes and colors. From that point on it was ‘team TammyWood’ for a period of two years as they gave the property a complete overhaul. Work, yes; but, based on comments from all parties involved they actually had a ball cultivating their dream living environment.
One of the things Rachel likes to do prior to working up interior ideas for clients is to take a little stroll through their closets. “A person’s wardrobe choices can offer a great deal of insight as to what type of interior look reflects their personal taste. In the case of Karen and Jimi, both fashion enthusiasts are known for cutting edge style that is organic and earthy but also swings to risk-taking glamour.” She laughs remembering one of Karen’s mother’s friends saying, ‘Karen’s taste is just WILD’, which in some ways is very true. She is very aware and appreciative of varying textures such as velvet, silks, mohair, fur, and leathers. “In fact, this house is likely my first and last time to be involved in designing an over the top fur closet for a client. I designed it to totally say ‘Karen and Jimi’ and even painted it a bold red. Over the top but fabulous and so suited to these entertainers.”
The house had a 1960’s Old Hollywood feel to it and was filled with possibilities. But those visions came with just as many challenges as finding rugs and furnishings to work with curved walls in main living areas. The living room also was oddly elevated and surrounded by railing so lowering that floor and the stairs for more open room was key. They all collaborated together through the process, finding joy in discovering the perfect wallpaper crafted from wood for a statement curved wall and other unique finishes to bring the mid-century bones to a modern-day showplace. Rachel finished the powder room like a jewelry box to reflect Karen’s love for accessories and jewelry. The curved view leads out to a clover-shaped swimming pool that is quite unique with various sitting and gathering areas put into place, including some of the most beautiful sun umbrellas for lounging that I have seen outside of Beverly Hills. The pool setting is always party-ready, but mostly used for their son, dog, and family to splash around during warm weather. The view though is spectacular in that it is easily seen from different rooms, making the outdoor space feel like part of the house. Rachel decorated accordingly and it’s possibly one of the most stylish private pools in the South.
“I really got to know them through the process of making this house their home and we became good friends. That actually happens often with my clients. I am there to assist and guide and offer expertise based on my education and experience, but I really let them get as involved as they wish. Karen and Jimi were both very involved.” Once the final picture was on the wall and visitors came to see the finished product, Karen explains that people kept saying ‘this house is so YOU’ upon seeing it. And that is the way Rachel likes it. “The best compliment that I can receive as a designer is for no one to realize that I was ever there. When a space suits the personality and style of those living in it, that’s the ultimate reward.”