Hannah Crowell of Crowell Interiors in Nashville, Tennessee, knows a thing or two about style. She also happens to hail from one of country music’s most iconic families: She’s the granddaughter of Johnny Cash, and it shows in her ability to bring a messy imperfection to every space she creates. It’s therefore no wonder that she’s emerged as the designer of choice for southerners looking for a relaxed, organic aesthetic.
Crowell’s projects are a study in contrasts—Scandinavian furniture sits next to rustic American pieces, while contemporary photography hangs next to oil portraits from the ‘40s and ‘50s. She uses midcentury furniture, but re-upholsters them in vintage Native American textiles, and perches sleek bathroom cabinets and fixtures atop Moroccan-tiled floors. Combined, these touches give each home she designs a classy, modern look, but with a messy, unpredictable demeanor.
For her latest Nashville project, Crowell worked with another music family to transform their home: Erin Breeding, a singer in the band The Breedings, and her husband, DJ Gerard Hardiman. The duo had recently purchased a new home in historic East Nashville—a very hip neighborhood, with lots of old, charming homes.
“We basically went in and tried to undo what the builders had done,” says Crowell—think hollow doors, lots of earth tones, and poorly-designed bathrooms.
So, even though the project wasn’t a complete renovation, a lot of work was required. “Aesthetically, very little about the house felt right when we bought it,” says Breeding. “I wanted darker floors, different paint colors, and an updated kitchen and bathrooms. I’ve always loved French doors, and this house was crying out for them. Hannah helped us realize ideas like cutting back a wall to open the kitchen more, tiling around the fireplace, and redesigning the pantry closets.”
As a result, marble and custom cabinetry was added to the kitchen, while luxurious fixtures, marble showers, and bathtubs were added to the bathrooms.
The bedroom, however, is the space that contains Crowell’s favorite design element in the home. “The wallpaper accent wall in the master bedroom definitely helps draw the eye to that gorgeous pattern, and away from the pre-existing odd scale,” the designer says. “And I had the bed custom made.”
As this is the couple’s first home together, each of them came to the project with different desires. “This was our first chance to figure out what our respective styles were—what we liked and what we didn’t,” says Breeding. “Gerard cared about the structure and functionality of the house, while I cared about the way it felt. I wanted a home that was warm, welcoming, interesting, and well-designed, but not intimidating.”
They found in Crowell the perfect complement to their tastes and needs. “Hannah starts with clean, functional elements, and then adds just enough quirk to make a house feel like a home. She knew when to be daring and when to apply restraint. She pushed me out of my comfort zone more than once,” says Breeding. Isn’t that what we all want in a designer?