Elsie’s Summer Project House

As many of you already know, my husband and I are in the middle of a challenging waiting period for our adoption right now. I have no doubt that it will all be worth it soon, but the day-to-day can be discouraging. Some days are better than others, but one of the big helps we have found is staying busy and creatively challenged in our careers.

Well, this summer is off to an AMAZING start in that department! We have a huge product launch for fall that I can’t share just yet (it’s one of the most exciting things we have ever worked on). In addition, we are finally taking the dive into short-term rental properties — this being the first one!

This house is in East Nashville, near a bunch of our favorite spots. This summer, we’ll be giving it a makeover and sharing the process with you here!

The two big differences between this house and my personal house (which I am still not done touring here) is that this home is not mid-century (it was built in the 1930s), so I’m not going to lean heavily on that style. Also just for this ONE house, I have banned myself from using pink. I will always love pink, but I think this is a great time to try other colors. When we were house shopping, Jeremy challenged me to lean more into a “Nashville” style for this home. (In his words, “Nashville doesn’t need another Palm Springs house.” Haha!)

I’ll share my plans for the color theme soon … it’s inspired by one of my favorite movies!

But first, I just wanted to pop in and share a few of the “before” photos.

The exterior is mostly brick with some white siding on the back. I am considering painting the exterior, if budget allows, but would you go light or dark with it?

The front porch is too cute, but the concrete is badly damaged. I am thinking of adding outdoor tile after it is repaired.

Here’s the kitchen. I am stepping outside my normal “box” in so many ways with this house. For the kitchen, it’s not going to have open shelving, which is my typical go-to.

It’s not going to be all white either (but still plenty of white!!!!).

Beside the kitchen, there is a small breakfast nook area. One of the first big projects Collin will be working on next week is built-in benches and a table for this little nook.

Here’s the living room. It’s small and cozy, with a wood burning fireplace. I want to do some contrast in this room, either a black fireplace or maybe a black wall behind the fireplace?

And here’s the dining room. You can see it’s right next to the living room. It has plenty of space for a six-seat table. I’m still thinking about how to make this room truly special.

Next up, there are two downstairs bedrooms — both currently painted blue. They are both on the small side. I plan to put a full size bed in one and a set of bunk beds in the other.

Here’s the other room. This is the first room we started working on this week. It’s not blue anymore …

Between the two bedrooms is a downstairs bathroom. There is a laminate floor in there (the same as the kitchen) that I’m hoping to change up soon. If you have inspirations for small bathrooms, please send them my way! You walk up a flight of carpeted stairs and there is this larger bedroom at the top. It was previously being used as the master bedroom and it’s really a great space. I can see so much potential here!

There’s also an upstairs bathroom with a cool original tub. It’s currently painted purple and I can’t wait to give it a fresh coat of paint!

Here’s the laundry room, which is off the kitchen downstairs.

OK, I think that is all the rooms. There is also a really great fenced-in yard that we plan to plant a willow tree in this summer.

Our goal is to complete this house so that we can have guests stay by the end of the summer. Since June is already almost over and we’ve barely started, that might be a bit ambitious, but we’ll see! I will share progress reports with you all along the way and room tours when it’s ready to be rented out.

Thank you so much for following along! This is a dream project for me. I am so grateful for a chance to fix up such a pretty home. xx- Elsie

Credits//Author and Photography: Elsie Larson
  • I’ve been a silent reader for YEARS, and this is the post that I finally feel compelled to comment on. I’m really looking forward to this transformation. As a 24-year-old, this house actually looks like a home I could (and would) purchase and add my own flair to. Of course, I’ve loved seeing you transform your beautiful home, but seeing a smaller home like this is more on-pace with what someone my age can afford to buy and re-do!

  • My husband and I are renovating our Inglewood home in Nashville and we are working with Rhonda Weatherford at Because Home Matters. She’s the only woman contractor that I know of in Nashville (which is awesome) and her team is INCREDIBLE. Just wanted to throw out that recommendation if you need to hire anything out! They do bathrooms, flooring, exteriors, masonry, custom carpentry–basically everything! Good luck!

  • Careful planting a willow: their roots can be really invasive to infrastructure as they search out a water source. Maybe go for a maple or a group of three aspens instead (less invasive and super-pretty in the fall!).

  • it’s adorable! and i’m so excited for you 😀 and you should DEFINITELY german schmear that outside brick! <3 it would look gorgeous. so many historic older houses in nashville have it 😀

  • The outside of the house reminds me of my grandmother’s home. It had that same beautiful brick front and a hedge in lieu of a fence in the front yard. I love the brick exterior. Perhaps with complementing paint colour/s to match the colours of the brick on the plain white walls/columns, door and concrete front would help. It would look stunning if you made the natural brick colours pop with complementing colours around it.

  • Oh, what a dream! Speaking as someone who has airbnb’d not one but two East Nashville homes, it’s a destination spot (and one where great design/styling really does set you apart).

  • I am going to jump on the please don’t paint the brick and especially not the fireplace train! The 1930’s was an amazing time for construction – workmanship had significantly improved since the turn of the century and they still used good quality, hefty materials that you cannot even buy today. I respect people making decisions for their own home that they plan to live in for a long time, but it would be such a shame to cover up historic stone for a rental! Not to mention added cost, maintenance, and the almost impossibility of removing it in the future. Craftsman style is so beautiful, maybe you can view it as a stretch for yourself creatively? I promise, decorating true to the house is really fun! If you decide you want a painted fireplace, can you pull out that gorgeous stone and send it my way instead? ;P

  • My friends and I are planning a trip to Nashville this fall and I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that we can stay here!

  • Yay, so fun! My husband and I are thinking of doing a similar sort of investment (but for long term rentals, not short term) here in LA, and this post is making me get more excited about it! Will be fun to follow along on your journey for inspiration! As always, thanks for sharing your creativity and brightness with us!

  • Personally, I would leave the brick unpainted and maybe change up the rest of the exterior if you’re looking for a fresh start, but if I had to choose a paint color, I think I’d go with a deep navy. That could look so good! My grandmother lived in a home very similar to this one in East Nashville while I was growing up, so I’m really interested to see how this ends up.

  • This is the cutest home! I adore how so many American homes have porches, its just not something you see in England.


  • Hi Elsie! I’m so excited to see the transformation!! I think you should DEF. paint the brick! A creamy white with black accents – think ‘modern’ cottage or maybe a DARK charcoal gray. There’s an adorable cottage on Seymour Ave across from the Eastland Kroger’s gas station that has the most adorable landscaping. Also, I have a VERY similar bathroom layout and I just remolded – here’s what ours came out like!

  • This house is so cute! I can’t wait to see what you do with it!


  • I know whatever you decide will look great and cohesive, but I have to agree with everyone who votes for not painting the exterior brick. I think for a lot of home styles, painted brick works great (like your own home) but for a craftsman with lovely brick like this one, I’d leave it unpainted. There are already so many great details in a craftsman cottage, I’d focus on making those stand out and shine. Just my two cents! Like I wrote, whatever you decide, I’m sure will look lovely.

  • Wow, can’t wait for the results!! Such an exciting project.Good luck! xo

  • How fun! We bought a new house at an ocean community that was a short term (nightly) rental and I had so much fun furnishing it! The only caution I have for you is insurance. We thought we had the right kind (we used a broker who sold the policy to us), but when our house got broken into they dropped us because it was landlord insurance. Nightly rental insurance is HARD to find. We ended up with Lloyds of London which was $$$!

  • Aaah this is one of my bog dreams to!! I`m an architect and I`d love to buy houses, renovate them and rent them when they are all finished 🙂
    Good luck! Can`t wait to see what you`ll do!
    xx Caroline


  • Oof, I know you have strong feelings about going ahead and painting brick/stone/wood if that suits your style and makes you happy, but in this case–with an older, classic home which is not going to be YOUR actual home–I would just feel like I had a responsibility to future owners and the community in general to try to preserve the history of the house and NOT just paint the brick on whim to create a funky rental vibe. Have you done any research/comparison about homes built during that time in this area? Maybe it’s not remarkable at all, but it would be interesting to know if the brick was a common style or unique in the area or even where the bricks were made!

  • Just wanted to vote for keeping the brick as is as well. I have truly love being inspired by your creativity for the last decade, and I’m sure you’ll make a great choice, but bricks from the 30s don’t want to be painted.

  • I wonder if just changing the grout between the bricks to a less contrasting colour would update the house while keeping the timelessness of the brick? Matching those dark charcoal bricks or even the red.

  • This is so wonderful and right up your alley! I could see home updates being a whole thing for you guys – it’s so rewarding. Excited to see what you come up with! Short-term rental, is that like AirBnB or something else?


  • Elsie it’s so exciting!! I love to see what new you’ll do with this house. This kind of stuff are one of my favorites from your blog. 🙂 enjoy and good luck!! xoxo

  • Can’t wait to see the progress of this project! That house had so much potential! 😀


  • This is exciting, I’m so curious how everything will turn out!

  • I’ve been given your book as a birthday present and have just started reading it and following your blog.

    This house is beautiful. It’s looks fabulous on the outside and the brickwork is lovely, so please don’t paint the bricks. I will enjoy seeing how you transform it.

    Will it be a holiday let? I’ve been to the states a few times but not Nashville. I could be tempted to stay here xx

  • Yaaay, I am so excited to follow your journey along this project and see the after photos 🙂 It’s an amazing house, it really has SO much potential. I love the idea of the little area to eat breakfast and I also love, love, love the purple bathroom. It’s so nice and open and airy, I think it would look nice painted a plain white and then have lots of greenery potted about up there!

    Have a great weekend 🙂

    Chloe @ https://girllgonerogue.blogspot.co.uk/

  • I’m so glad to see other people in the comments have the same opinion as I do about not painting the brick. I feel like painted brick is on trend right now but trends change so quickly and original brick is so timeless. Leaving the brick really makes the house feel original. Just my opinion ?

  • ^What Emma said. Team pink brick! ?

  • What a gorgeous little house!! I know you’ll do an excellent job of that attic.

    I wouldn’t paint the brick though. It’s not even about looks, but about the bricks. Paint can be very damaging. Just maybe look into it first, and ask a brick mason about what’s best for the integrity of the bricks.

    Would a painted wood floor work in the bathroom? The turquoise stained floor in your own house is perfection!!

  • There is SO much potential in this house!! I can’t wait to see what you turn it into!! Wishing you lots of creativity and distractions as you are trying to wait patiently!!

  • Can’t wait to see what you do with this house! What’s your other website where you talk about the adoption process I found it so open and inspired

  • Normally I’m all about light and bright, but the second I saw the first picture I thought “Dark!” It would look amazing in a dark charcoal grey with all the white trim. And while I totally understand where the “No painted brick” people are coming from, sometimes things look okay from far away in a picture but up close they need some cosmetic help.

  • What a fun project! I think in times of waiting– whether for joy or grief, or that odd homesicky feeling of both– finding a way to stay busy, as the back of your mind processes through it all, is such a healthy, happy thing.

    With older homes, I find that the brick is often remarkable and worth preserving in it’s own way. For example, I lived in Baton Rouge for college, and saw this distinctive gray brick everywhere. It wasn’t really special to me until I found out it was from a specific quarry and was only available for a set period in history, and only in that area. Or the tumbled brick on my childhood home– it was upcycled when the house was built in the mid-60s, so there’s no telling how old or special those bricks are. Also, like your house here, I think the differentiation in colors is often better in old brick than in new subdivision brick.

    All that being said, I would keep the brick exposed, but consider a fresh, sorta mod take on craftsman styles, and balance it with a few gray and olive tones and a warm wood application somewhere. I like the color ways The Cavender Diary blog uses, if that makes sense. Cedar, Charcoal, dove grey, mid-tone olive, etc. with lots of crisp white throughout. This palette is both historical and on-trend (with tones kinda tweaked for this house specifically) and is fresher in person than it sounds here. Here’s their house: https://thecavenderdiary.com/category/new-home/house-tour/

    My favorite baths lately have been on the smallish side and kinda fit in with the lines of your house and the colors just mentioned.

    Here’s one from The Hunted Interior: http://huntedinterior.com/2016/10/bathroom-shower-track-with-ball-chain.html

    And here’s one from Vintage Revival: http://vintagerevivals.com/2016/11/mind-blowing-939-bathroom-makeover

    And for the porch and other exterior slabs, maybe a new concrete top with a simple pattern on it? Like large scale diamond, etc. Similar to this: http://i.pinimg.com/1200x/21/b6/2d/21b62dc5f3f92ba55373af51209cdbc1.jpg

    It would be cool if you could tear out the corner cabinet thing next to the fireplace and that pony wall it’s attached to, and just let that all flow together. A dramatic deep wall color like you said would really stand out in a long application like that. If that’s the case, I would probably not paint the fireplace dark. Maybe restore the wood mantle to what the original tone was, and go natural with the rocks.

    While I’m kind of in the fresh take on craftsman camp, I’m sure whatever the final result is turn out great! Can’t wait to see the post!

  • I *love* painted brick – if I could paint my house right now I’d choose a light yellow!

  • I really can’t wait to see what you do with the place! It has so much potential. I LOVE the look of that tub!

  • It reminds me exactly of a house in the show Nashville! Love following your renos!

  • You’re killin me!!! I was just in Nashville…. welp, I guess I’ll be back again soon! (I am NOT complaining about that!!)

  • I actually really like the purple bathroom! Something about that color feels really calming in that photo… I would keep it and work around it.

  • so many fun possibilities!!
    I just did a home decor roundup post


  • this property looks so quaint, i cant wait to see how you refresh it all x

  • What a great way to stay productive! I think it will be fun! Can’t wish to see what you will share with us as you work on each room


  • Awesome! So excited to follow along. Do you plan to have long-term renters or just a cute space for your personal guests and Airbnb renters to stay?

    • We’re planning to use it for short-term (and guests, of course) for now. I may host some workshops there as well, it’s been a goal for mine for years…. 🙂 xx.

      • Hello, I’m a longtime reader and I love your blog. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to phrase what I’m about to say, because this is a really cute house, and I know your intentions are good, however, please think before you turn a house into a short term rental. Short term rentals are exacerbating gentrification and neighborhood affordability across America. I saw it happen when I lived in Brooklyn, and I’m seeing it happen where I live in Kansas City. Long term and more vulnerable renters are priced out of areas because it is more profitable for people to rent to short term guests, who, although many of whom are nice, well meaning people looking for a cool place to stay, have no long-term interests in the neighborhood. Here are a few articles on the subject.http://realtormag.realtor.org/news-and-commentary/commentary/article/2015/12/airbnb-crashing-neighborhood


        Thank you for reading.

  • awesome, how exciting, cant wait to see the transformation!
    We are doing our own bathroom at the mo, so feel free to check out my mood board for light bright bathrooms:
    Good luck! Itll be great

  • I’m with the don’t paint the brick crowd. Especially for the area.

  • Just saw this bathroom picture and fell in love with the space and its simplicity. Might work for your little bathroom:


    • Sorry that didn’g link properly:

  • But are you sure you don’t want to paint the brick pink or does that violate the pink rule? I mean, it’s OUTSIDE the house… so…


    • I also don’t think you should paint the brick– I think I would look adorable painted, but then you have to keep repainting it every few years. I wish my brick house wasn’t painted, it is just one more home ownership expense! I think you could up the curb appeal with a fun color for the trim and a new surface on the porch.

    • Agreed!!! I love painted brick, but not on a craftsman bungalow that never would have been painted to start with. I wouldn’t paint the stone fireplace either!

  • Oh, definitely go dark on the exterior if you choose to paint it. Dark blue, yes yes yes!

    • Totally agree that dark is it! I want a black house so badly!

  • well, perfect! I’m looking to visit Nashville this fall …. hoping you’re ready for us!

  • Insurance will be beautiful,your creativity is amazing!!
    The pink pineapple
    New post:http://thepinkpineappleblog.blogspot.com

  • Glad to see you take on this project! In my opinion, the house doesn’t look shabby right now, so I’m excited to see how you’re going to transform it into something even more amazing!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • oh Elsie this is such an exciting project and I think it is so so good you are staying productive and challenging yourself while you wait….I’m sure it could be so easy to dwell and drive yourself crazy with the whole waiting process so major kudos to you. I’m very excited to see what you do with this house as parts of it seem similar to our house that was built around the same time 🙂 can’t wait!!

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