See How This Antiques-Loving Designer Decorates Her First Home in Louisville, Kentucky
"It’s the accessories that give a room its character," says homeowner Hanna Seabrook, who admits that when she's not running Gadabout Creative, she's scavenging Etsy, eBay, flea markets, and thrift stores for treasures that others often overlook. It takes patience, but collectors—like Seabrook—never have to decorate from scratch. "I always start with a piece I love and then build around it," she says.
Despite having ample time to amass her collection of furniture and accents, house hunting was a more urgent matter when Seabrook's husband, Nelson, landed a job in Louisville, Kentucky. The then Charleston, South Carolina-based couple had only three weeks to find and buy their first home. They settled on a simple 1940s cottage with 1,800 square feet, lots of original architectural details, and an ugly kitchen. "This house had the most potential," says Seabrook. Because of Nelson's career, the couple knew they would return to Charleston in four years, and this project felt doable. Their remodeling priorities included painting, reworking the den, and gutting the kitchen. Once construction was complete and daughter Eaddy arrived, Seabrook set out to create rooms that are inviting, balanced, and (best of all) convertible. "I move my furniture around all the time, so I pick things that can travel," she says.
Living Room: Before
Living Room: After
"I wanted to bring in the natural world as much as possible," says Seabrook, who paired a classic chintz pattern (Lee Jofa's Althea, used for both the curtains and the armchairs) with chalky green walls (Farrow & Ball's Vert de Terre). Botanical-themed accessories, like the prints around the fireplace and even a branch under the coffee table, complete the garden effect.
The fireplace surround is a jarring black tile. Rather than replace it, Seabrook uses a wicker screen to conceal it and maintain the room's airiness.
Seabrook hid existing built-ins with a flat-panel door hung with art. "In a small house, we needed all the storage we could get," she says.
Dining Room: Before
Dining Room: After
"I wanted a jewel box feeling in here, so I went with pale blue walls and a tonal trim," says Seabrook about the flat-finished walls (Benjamin Moore's Woodlawn Blue) and slightly contrasting trim in eggshell (Benjamin Moore's Wedgewood Gray). The difference in sheen and color is subtle, which helps pull together the room's mismatched antique furniture. "Growing up, I thought of brown wood pieces as "old lady," but now I value the craftsmanship and combine them with untraditional accents," she says.
Designer Olivia Brock (torrancemitchell.com), Seabrook's good friend, helped her with this cozy kitchen. The pair agreed that a farmhouse-inspired look best suited the 1940s home. Out went the faux stained glass window, black granite, and tile floor for timeless and surprisingly budget-friendly selections like beaded-board walls (run vertically for height), mahogany countertops, and hardwood floors painted a deep green gray (Benjamin Moore's Randolph Gray in an exterior Arborcoat finish for durability). The pièce de résistance is the Country French drop-leaf table, found at a local antiques store. "It's 4 inches too big for the space, but that didn't bother me at all," Seabrook explains. "Practically speaking, it's an investment piece that can just move with us to the next house." Seabrook designated the two open shelves to the left of the sink for holding everyday items, making it easy to reach and return.
"People think wooden counters require a lot of maintenance, but we just oil them twice a month," says Seabrook. "These are 2 ½ inches thick, which makes them look substantial."
Transform your cozy den into a library with floor-to-ceiling shelving built to show off your collection. "Books and their bindings give layers to a room," says Seabrook, who added the shelves and painted the backs brown. Keeping Netflix viewing in mind, there's a television tucked into additional shelves (not shown) facing the sofa. The Seabrooks agreed to use this blue-and-white print (Peter Dunham Textiles' Samarkand) as the only pattern in the room.
Seabrook chose a clean-lined four-poster bed with white sheeting and curtains to allow her unique finds to be the stars. "I actually gasped when I saw the white ceramic lamps on Etsy," she says. Next came the big gilt-metal floral mirrors. "I hunted for them specifically because I wanted something that was busy and a bit over-the-top to go with the lamps," she recalls. Blue-gray walls (Benjamin Moore's Mountain Mist) make an ethereal backdrop for all the elaborate accents.
There's a tidy practicality to daughter Eaddy's bedroom. Seabrook relied on classic, collected nursery pieces rather than anything modern to outfit the room: an antique walnut crib, muted pink walls, and a nostalgic but mature fabric—Schumacher's Cabanon Stripe.