By Torie Temple

Photos by Melissa Donald 

Nestled among the busy streets of the Highlands neighborhood stands a turn-of-the-century shotgun house with redefined spaces and eclectic inner workings that comfortably blends in with its surroundings. Living under its 12-foot ceilings is Holly Gregor, former writer on interior design turned full-time designer. “When I moved, I knew I wanted a completely different living experience than my last house,” Holly says. “So when my oldest graduated from high school, I wanted to downsize and find that new living experience. The Highlands was the perfect solution. It’s a different kind of living here, and I can walk to anywhere I want to go.”

Fate had a hand in leading Holly to her Highlands home. Her friends and fellow designers Rick Jenkins and Virgil Vaughn knew the last three owners of the home and were able to inform Holly of its impending sale before it was on the market. Once she secured the house, Holly, Rick and Virgil got started on making the inside bright and livable.

Paint also saved Holly money in the kitchen by transforming the ceramic tile flooring. “The floor tile in the kitchen looked gray to me, and the walls were mustard, so we had the walls painted cream and the cabinets painted green,” Holly says. “The green (Porter Paints, Fatique Green) in the cabinets brought out the green in the tile that I didn’t see before. I didn’t have to tear the tile up because everything was so cohesive.”

The home’s biggest transformation came by the gallons. Cream-colored paint (Porter Paints – Velvet White) covers the walls, ceilings, and hardwood floors throughout the house. “My whole house is done on a budget because I am very price-conscious,” Holly says. “To save money, I had the floors painted instead of having them refinished. Painting everything cream gave me a clean palette and the all-white look I was going for.

The home was originally a one-bedroom with a separate dining and living room, but Holly needed two sitting rooms and an extra bedroom for her son. She solved this by converting the former dining room into her extra sitting area, and she used a little imagination to add another bedroom. “The front room/library is now my bedroom,” Holly says. “Since the house was a one-bedroom, I had to use the space in a modern way, so my bedroom also serves as the dining room.”

“It is amazing what a coat of paint can do. It made everything more open and made the ceilings look higher. You see things differently and it brings out the details in the house.”

Front sitting room

Now redesigned and redefined, the home’s unique style continues with the combination of antique and repurposed decor. Holly has gathered pieces from World Market, Joe Ley, and Rick Jenkins and Company (Rick and Virgil’s company).

Designer Rick Jenkins says coming to dinner at Holly’s house is a lot of fun, very European, and you don’t think about being in a bedroom while eating. This could be because of the clever way the table is placed in Holly’s room with a large mirror behind it. The mirror was designed by Rick out of a piece of molding he found at Joe Ley Antiques.

She has learned that it isn’t about how the house was lived in before, but how you want to live in the house. “When you’re going to move into a house, try to think how you live in order to designate each room for what you need it to be,” Holly says. “Just because it’s supposed to be a dining room doesn’t mean it has to stay the dining room. Bring in a mix of modern and antiques. Having the two together makes for an interesting house.”

Holly incorporates playfulness into the arrangement of her bathroom — opting for stacking her shelf with toilet paper rather than towels. 
In her son’s room, Holly created a sofa using twin beds.