Genifer Goodman, Benjamin Sohr and his daughter, Lucy, moved from San Francisco to Nashville for reasons we can all relate to: the desire for a less hectic life and the ambition to start an independent business (a hip nail salon and shop called Favorite, open since August, right about the time their son, Oden, was born). The couple found a 1950s house in pristine condition but with a few "aesthetic challenges": a tiny galley kitchen and a formal living-dining room layout that didn't mesh with the family's casual lifestyle.
"We treat our house the way we would treat a brand-ensuring the statement is consistent throughout,"
Adds Goodman: "We're more problem solvers than decorators."
A small renovation budget (about $10,000 total) made transforming the place more difficult, but the couple had an advantage: Both had spent the past decade curating the shelves at major retailers-Sohr had been a director of store design at Banana Republic, and until recently, Goodman was VP of visual merchandising and store design for The Limited Brands, for which she now consults. Their radar for composition and color was indispensable to the bold but affordable makeover of their new home.
Sticking with all-white objects turns various inexpensive finds into an instant "collection."
"This was a really challenging room because the fireplace isn't centered," Goodman says. "So we made a very symmetrical arrangement with the furniture to give the space balance." A pair of vintage leather Chesterfield sofas look anything but stuffy when flanked by two Eames chairs on one side and a mid-century bench on the other. These pieces form a perfect rectangle around the coffee table, whose height is ideal for playing board games or late-night cards. The precise positioning of the heavier pieces and mostly black-and-white color scheme anchor the room, while pop-bright pillows and two off-center flea-market prints on the wall prevent things from feeling too measured.
This stack of solid and print pillows in descending size and shapes plays up the pink-and-blue theme in Lucy's bedroom.
By relying mostly on prints of flowers and other natural elements, Goodman and Sohr were able to mix them freely. In the guest bedroom, a nail-head-pattern bedspread, old-fashioned carnation-print pillowcases and a floral curtain look almost like a set—sans the matchy-matchy-ness. Steady color palettes throughout the house also help keep visual chaos in check, as does the tidy, tailored way in which the couple layers pattern upon pattern. This tonal and thematic harmony has an added perk: "We can change the entire feel of a space by switching out throw pillows, art and accessories. It's like having a completely new room," Goodman says.
"Hanging pictures low is unexpected and allows you to integrate them with other objects."
Overlapping freestanding pictures and objects feel casual and spontaneous.
From "real art" and old etchings to Sohr's doodles, graphic elements punch up every room in the house. Goodman explains that though she and Sohr were confident about furniture, they had never really had an art collection before moving to Nashville: "We thought, 'We're grown-up—we need some artwork!' But we didn't want to spend a lot of money." So the couple started picking up things quickly and eclectically, from flea markets, thrift shops and antiques dealers. What gives their finds polish is the way they are framed and displayed—in geometric compositions that would make Mondrian proud. "For us, it's like a puzzle, putting it all together," Goodman says. Their guidelines: Alternate big and small pieces and vary texture and type of work, maintain a color scheme, and don't leave huge gaps between pieces in a grouping (but don't be afraid of empty wall space, either).