Country Strong

In a true labor of love, interior designer Jared Paul transforms a dilapidated 1850s farmhouse in Palmetto into a charming, unpretentious retreat

Seven acres, a hog pen, a muscadine vine and an 1850s mechanical well. Those “amenities”—along with a single photo of a run-down, mid 19th-century Palmetto residence on a realtor’s website—were intriguing enough to convince interior designer Jared Paul to see the place in person. “The lead-in for the listing read, ‘Country Road, Take me Home,’” says Paul. But an inspection would later reveal that making this old house a home would prove challenging.

Vacant for nearly a decade, the residence was in rough condition. Though the foundation was solid, the house literally stood on piles of flint rocks supported by cypress logs. Layers of asbestos siding and climbing poison ivy would need to be carefully extricated from the exterior; inside, critters including lizards, wasps and birds had created a filth Paul would later determine only a pressure washer could eliminate.

But Paul’s desire to work on an old house remained strong, thanks to a log cabin restoration project he tackled as a teenager in Alabama with his Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Charlie, both of whom would prove instrumental in helping Paul take this house apart and put it back together again. “The entire process was kind of like unwrapping a present,” he explains. “We didn’t know if it was going to be a good present or a bad one.”

As they peeled away the layers, the house began to reveal not only its hidden treasures but also its humble beginnings. In the home’s central breezeway, for instance, they pulled back gold carpet and found the original floors, beautiful pine planks they would refinish to their original glory. But the most notable gems were perhaps the 16-foot heart pine boards—found only after a drywall installation in the home’s current master bedroom came crashing down on Paul’s uncle—without nary a nail hole, that had been laid over rafters as a ceiling.

That clue, along with the fact that Paul discovered cutouts for an oven vent as well as a cat hole in the door, allowed the three to piece together that the current master was originally the home’s kitchen. “The beauty of tearing everything out,” Paul recalls, “was finding all this wonderful stuff they had just covered up.” Paul’s two-year labor of love was not without hiccups but the light at the end of the tunnel was the joy of furnishing the vacation home with his partner, interior designer Kelley Harris. Because the renovation afforded the pair the luxury of time, they were able to curate an interesting mix for the renovated space. “I’ve always loved Southern stuff that’s not perfect and built by hand,” Paul says. Coveted antiques like a pie safe (used as a bookshelf of sorts in the den) and settle bench table (a showstopper in the restored breezeway) complement more whimsical, off-the-beaten-path finds, whether it’s the trolley-turned-coffee table from a dilapidated bag factory or strategically placed works by local artists from Sandler Hudson and Whitespace galleries.

“There’s a lot of details people don’t think about when you’re dealing with putting a house like this back together,” Paul says. But the payoff is palpable. “We truly feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Man of Design – Jared Paul’s Favorite Things:

CARS: Anything diesel; the Saab 9000 series
ARTIST: Dan Flavin
CHAIR: After all of these years, I am still in love with Michele De Lucchi’s “First” chair for Memphis
KITCHEN GADGET: Garbage disposal
COMFORT FOOD: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
WALLPAPER: Most anything from Studio Printworks‚ their prints make such a statement in a room!
WATCH: Swatch  Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Country Life #1490
COCKTAIL: Jack Daniels & Ginger Ale
MOVIE: Airplane
Way to Entertain: Anywhere with great music, great food and friends
TV SHOWS: Dallas, Dynasty‚ any drama that was aired after 9pm in the ’80s!
VACATION SPOT: Anywhere my iPhone does not get service

INTERIOR DESIGN Jared Paul, Paul + Raulet, (404) 261-1820, PAINT COLORS Exterior: Martin Senour Tree Trunk 1-6. Exterior Doors: Pratt & Lambert Brick Dust 6-19. Living Room, Hallway, Master Bedroom and Master Bathroom: Martin Senour Peyton Randolph Stone Dark CW-405. Kitchen and Den: Benjamin Moore Plymouth Brown HC-73. Guest room: Benjamin Moore Rockport Gray HC-105. Ceiling in Den and Guest room: Benjamin Moore New Chestnut Brown AC-6