When a historian and an archivist decamped from their New York City roost to Louisville, Kentucky, during the pandemic with their new baby in tow, settling in a historic home was the goal. Their search for a suitable abode led to a gracious 1924 Tudor revival with great bones. Unfortunately, there had been a series of design decisions made between the 1980s and ’90s that had obscured historic elements, blocked light, and obstructed the flow throughout the house. They needed help contemporizing the beautiful Tudor revival—making it livable for a couple with a newborn—while maintaining the home’s original integrity. An introduction by a contractor led the new homeowners to AD PRO Directory designer Bethany Adams, who proved to be an excellent fit.
“We were trying to make it a family home, and not have it be a museum,” Adams explains. With the original blueprints included in the purchase of the home, Adams went about creating congruence between the house’s distinguishing characteristics and the comfortable, contemporary aesthetic the couple was going for.
Clunky ’90s-style doors and windows at the back of the house were swapped for steel-frame Crittall replacements, a signature style of many 1920s residences that lets natural light through glass panes. Wood-frame Tudor-style doors and windows, along with their stained glass, were left untouched in order to retain period charm. Elsewhere, original flooring was refinished throughout the home, except in the kitchen and breakfast room, where dark cherry wood planks were replaced with Belgian terra-cotta star and cross tiles to create a period-appropriate aesthetic.
In the kitchen, Adams and the homeowners continued to let history dictate their design approach while balancing two distinct styles. “The term that we use, tongue-in-cheek, is Shaker Deco,” says one half of the couple. “Shaker because there’s a strong legacy of wooden handicrafts in Kentucky that was largely informed by the Shakers, and Deco just because this house is an artifact of the 1920s.” The island, cabinets, and open shelving in the kitchen clearly reflect the clean lines of Shaker-style workmanship, and shiny brass knobs and fluted brass rods are just two elements infused with Art Deco flair.
Whimsical palette choices and playful furniture selections also make up a major portion of the home’s decorative language. “I’ve always loved interesting color combinations,” Adams says. “There’s no bad color—it’s just [about] finding the right one to make [another] color look amazing. I find that [to be] a fun exercise.”
The dwelling’s color story is strong, especially in areas like the dining room, where orange vintage Finn Juhl chairs contrast with green-toned wallpaper. The effect is lively and ebullient, with the fantastical Moon Pendant Ensemble by Ludovic Clément D’armont adding to the animation. Not far away, blue seating electrifies the formal living room, bright yellow enlivens a powder room, and a plum four-poster frame sits in a midnight blue primary bedroom. “That’s my personal preference all the time,” Adams says about color’s starring role in the decor. “I’m not usually lucky enough to have clients who are willing to go there with me, but we just were very aligned in what we envisioned for this space.”
The clients also couldn’t be happier with their collaboration. “Living in New York, we were always fantasizing about a house that felt like it was a part of history,” the couple says. “That’s what attracted us to this specific place, and [it] informed the whole process. The result reflects that dream.”