Historic Home Tour for the Holidays

I’ve had a passion for historic homes dating back from when I was a small child. One of my favorite things to do is attend historic home tours. Taking in the craftsmanship and intricacies of the architecture, as well as seeing how the homeowner populates the home with furnishings and decoration, always fuels my imagination and plants new ideas for projects and paint colors. I’ll be sharing some of those, so read on!

Maury County Historic Home Tour with The Decorologist

Recently, a friend and I spent a wonderful day on a holiday historic home tour a couple of counties away from where we live. The Maury Christmas Historic Home Tour is a Maury County tradition. The tour began in 1951 as the “Majestic Middle Tennessee Tour of Homes” and was held each year in the fall. Since that time, the tour has evolved into a two-day event taking place the first week of December and is the annual fundraiser of the Maury County Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA).

Academy Hall at Columbia Academy TennesseeEntrance to Academy Hall

Can you even imagine the cost of an entry like that if commissioned today? Academy Hall was designed by Edwin Carpenter, who also designed the Maury Country Courthouse:

Columbia, TN courthouse, photo by Kristie BarnettMaury County Courthouse

AND the historic Nashville landmark, The Hermitage Hotel, which is where Mr. Man and I spent our wedding night over 22 years ago!

Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville

One of our first stops was at the President James K. Polk home, which was the first brick structure to be built in Columbia, TN. The house is a museum of Polk’s life as the furnishings are those used by him and Mrs. Polk in the White House and in his law office.

James K Polk home interiorEntry of the 1816 James K. Polk Home

While the downstairs rooms of the Polk Home featured wallpaper with white or stained wood trim, the upstairs rooms had plain white walls with trim painted in bright colors, like this daring leprechaun green:

paint color similar to Benjamin Moore Luck of the Irish 588

Here’s a portrait of Polk’s wife, Sarah, that hangs in a bedroom with trim moldings painted in a vivid peach paint color.

James K Polk home portrait of wife Sarah and peach trim moldingtrim color similar to Benjamin Moore Hugs & Kisses 097

This carpet in the master bedroom is a replica of Sarah’s favorite floor covering from her days in the White House:

dark pink patterned historic carpet at James K Polk home

I love, love the green door in the walled courtyard behind the home.

Benjamin Moore Tarrytown Green exterior doorpaint color similar to Benjamin Moore Tarrytown Green HC-134

Although it never belonged to a president, the home I was really excited to tour belongs to an old college friend of mine! Just take a gander at the exterior of the Esslinger’s beautiful historic home:

Esslingler Home in Columbia TN photo by The Decorologist

Bonnie Esslinger owns and operates Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace in historic downtown Columbia, TN, which is in the  building that housed JC Penny from the 1930s through the 1980s. Bonnie’s goods occupy 2000 square feet of the space, and she leases out the rest to 55 vendors and a cafe on the 3rd floor.  Bleu 32 is heavy on the vintage, but also include jewelry vendors, boutique clothing, art, home decor, cards, toys, and more. It is an absolute DREAM, and I could have spent all afternoon in her store!

Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace in Columbia, TN

If you are ever in Columbia, you have to check it out! You can follow Bleu 32 on Instagram here. Here’s a peek before we actually tour the inside of her personal home:

I left the shop with a couple of unique vintage gifts for friends and few bottle tree and pink elf ornaments for myself!

But back to Bonnie’s house. Check out this staircase in her entry, and the stunning black base molding:

curved staircase in historic home with black base molding

Bonnie and her husband bought their 1914 home seven years ago and are only the third family to own it. The curved staircase, exterior columns, and porch were added to the mail order American Foursquare in the 1950s.

I’m not sure, but I’m betting that’s when this AH-MAZING crown molding and box moldings were added.

paint color similar to Sherwin-Williams Frostwork 0059

I’m really excited to show you the “updated” kitchen, because most people completely miss the mark when they renovate a period or vintage kitchen. Not the Esslingers! Their recent kitchen renovation marries modern functionality with period charm. And all her vintage collections certainly help with the charm. Check out the vintage aprons tied to the backs of the purposely mismatched bar chairs:

turquoise kitchen with marble countertops and marble floors and mismatched counter stools with vintage apronspaint color similar to Sherwin-Williams Halcyon Green SW6213

The Esslingers gutted the kitchen’s metal cabinets and asbestos tile flooring. Bonnie says the best thing they did was tear down the wall in between the kitchen and breakfast room which was hiding those gorgeous windows and all that light!

vintage Christmas decor in historic kitchen

Oh, how I would love to have such beautifully preserved vintage plantation shutters like these!

red hanging wall telephone

The Esslingers also renovated three out of the four bathrooms, while carefully retaining all the period details possible. The chalkboard paint on the walls is a fun touch, and the contrast draws attention to the beautiful trim molding.

chalkboard paint in bathroom

About 95% of Bonnie’s decor is from her shop or yard sales – her addiction and passion that led her to opening a vintage store in the first place!

silhouette grouping

I obviously spent a lot of time at Bonnie’s home, but let me show you some more great highlights on the historic home tour!

The original part of this home built in 1833 was designed by Adolphus Heiman, who also designed the historic Belmont Mansion in Nashville.

Benjamin Moore Dunmore Cream exteriorsimilar to Benjamin Moore’s Dunmore Cream HC-29

It is also known as The Clock Home because of the extensive collection of antique clocks inside:

vintage clock collection

The homes on the tour were full of amazing stained glass and other unique architecture.

stained glass windows in staircase of historic home

antique vintage staircase newel post

And the fireplaces. Oh, the fireplaces. Several of the homes had one in practically every room. This Arts and Crafts Style example was probably my favorite:

arts and crafts fireplace surround

green glazed fireplace tile

Check out this wonderfully creative Christmas tree alternative in one on the bedrooms on the tour:

Christmas tree dress form

Downtown Columbia has some of the most beautiful historic homes and buildings. I was totally envisioning what it would be like to live there.

benjamin moore spellbound house exteriorsimilar to Benjamin Moore Spellbound 1659

Italianate historic homegorgeous 1872 Italianate home – not on tour

Heck, I’d even move into this beautiful home – and it’s currently a funeral parlor!!!

Can you imagine the children bounding down this staircase on Christmas morning?

Rippavilla Mansion staircase with red runnerRippavilla Mansion, Maury County, TN

Or hosting Christmas dinner in this dining room in the Rippavilla Mansion?

Rippavilla Mansion dining room

We didn’t make it to all the homes on the tour because I locked my keys in the car midday and we had to wait for AAA to come to the rescue. We missed touring the idyllic Pullen Farm, where I’ve stayed many times and is currently for sale. You can check out one of several blogposts I’ve written about it here.

I hope you enjoyed Maury Christmas Historic Home Tour. I believe it may become a new Christmas season tradition for me!

If you want to learn how to choose the right paint colors for your home, my instructional video can help. Find out more here. And don’t forget, our March 14-16 Expert Psychological Stager certification course is open for registration here!

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Thanks for sharing! I love historic homes and they look so pretty during the holidays. Hope I can visit some day. BTW, is that unusual box with a cigarette in the bottom photo a humidor?

Lynn O’Brien
Lynn O’Brien
2 years ago

I love historic homes too and would live in one if I could! An office where I used to work was in a 18th century home in Annapolis. Thanks for sharing your pictures. The homes and rooms were beautiful! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Susie Tucker
Susie Tucker
2 years ago

I must have spent 30 minutes looking through this post! I love historic home tours and appreciate your excellent photographs. Merry Christmas!

Beth Lester
Beth Lester
2 years ago

This was pure joy to look at all the pictures! Thank you and Merry Christmas.

Emily Steinberg-Cash
2 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing all these photos and ideas…esp your friends home in Columbia! Since I am so busy with my own business in December and can never get away, it was really appreciated that you shared all of this information with us! Now that I am closed until spring I would love to trek down to the shop in Columbia! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well…

Linda Merrill
2 years ago

Wonderful historic house tour – thanks for sharing. I especially love the Sarah Polk rug – amazingly modern! Happy New Year!

Janet Lorusso
2 years ago

What a fun tour! Thank you, Kristie!

Sheri Bruneau
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing. I loved seeing these homes in all of their glory and have gone through this post several times just looking at all the detail of these homes.

Leslie Carothers
Leslie Carothers
2 years ago

Hi Kristie:

It was so interesting to see these beautiful homes through your eyes and images. I just love seeing posts like this, where I can get ideas for holiday decorating and, also, learn about the history of places I will probably never visit.

Your friend’s new kitchen is just beautiful, by the way! I love how she used those aprons in such a charming way on those barstools.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

2 years ago

Love the white house carpet thanks for nice post.

Related Posts

paint color training course

Staging Certification

paint color training course

Color Certification

paint color training course

My Staging Book

paint color training course

Small Wall

paint color training course