White's Mercantile Room and Board | holly williams
White's Room and Board are vacation rental properties curated by Holly Williams in recently, renovated historical homes. There are 3 unique properties for rentals: The Sweeney Cottage located in Leipe'rs Fork, TN; The Fox Country Farmhouse in Cornersville, TN; and The Centerhill Cabins located in Sparta, TN.
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Take a Peek Inside This Historic 1890s Tennessee Cottage Turned Charming Inn

“Sweeney Cottage,” the latest renovation project from singer-songwriter and CL contributor Holly Williams, is full of pretty patterns, gorgeous antiques, and quaint farmhouse details.

BY MADELEINE FRANK REEVES AND LAURA KOSTELNY  view article >

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Back in 2005, Holly Williams, the Nashville singer-songwriter and one of Country Living’s 100 most creative people, spent her nights playing gigs all over Nashville, trying to get a record deal. She spent her days working in a sandwich shop situated next door to a charming 1890s cottage in nearby Leiper’s Fork. More than a decade later, the cottage hit the market and Holly teamed up with friend (and Leiper’s Fork historian) Aubrey Preston to restore it to its former glory. The result: a charmingly quaint 1,200-square-foot space now available for rent through Holly’s rapidly growing White’s Mercantile brand. Take a look around at Holly’s inspiring work.

Entryway

Holly chose her favorite “neutral” for the doors: Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball.

Kitchen

The pretty chandelier, rose-colored rug, and accent wall papered in Smoky Rose by House of Hackney pretty up the practical space.

Dining Room

Holly hunted down each and every one of the vintage mirrors. “Reproductions are fine,” she says. “But I wanted everything in this house to be antique.”

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country living sweeney cottage

Meet the Country’s 100 Most Creative People

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countryliving_mostcreativeissueHolly’s passion for restoring old farmhouses-some she even finds on craigslist!-has added “innkeeper” to her multi hyphenate job description. (She’s currently at work restoring two more soon-to-be rentals and just finished renovating the “Sweeney Cottage” in Leaper’s Fork, Tn.) “I want to welcome songwriters searching for a creative getaway; families craving quiet restorative time; and anyone wanting a little peace and clarity.” See the rest of her Sweeney Cottage renovation here.

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Inside Holly Williams’s Charming Tennessee Cottage

BY JAIMEE ZANZINGER – PHOTOGRAPHS BY IKE EDEANI  View article >

The singer-songwriter and tastemaker pulls out all the stops when visitors come stay at her painstakingly renovated home.

whites room and board

I love the way old houses tell stories,” says Holly Williams, the Nashville, Tennessee–raised singer-songwriter and mom of Stella June, 3, Lillie Mae Louise, 18 months, and Arlo Gale, 4 months, with her musician-artist husband, Chris Coleman. “I adore rooms brimming with the happiness and tragedy, laughter and tears, of the generations who loved, lost, and lived there.

Built in 1892, the historic Carl Sweeney House in the Franklin, Tennessee, village of Leiper’s Fork (population: 650) set the scene for a particularly eventful chapter in Williams’s life. As a 25-year-old, she rented the 1,200-square-foot cottage and worked at the sandwich shop next door between performances. Recalls Williams, granddaughter of the late country icon Hank: “It was a dreamy time.”

A pair of Gibson guitars hangs in the music room. Williams (with her family), who is working on her fourth album, hopes people will be “inspired here, whether to write, paint, or play guitar. We’re creative people, and we want to spread that around.”

Neutral-hued vintage plates and mirrors, found on eBay and at antiques malls, evoke a Southern sensibility, says Williams: “I love the mystery behind who dined with the old plates.” The beadboard is painted in Sherwin-Williams’s Tricorn Black.

In the entryway, she color-matched Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground ($127 per gallon) with Sherwin-Williams’s $36 version “to save some dough” and papered the ceiling with Cole & Son’s cloudy Nuvolette print. The sign above the door is from local antique shop Serenite Maison.

“A big white bed is inviting,” shares the mom, who paired linens from Target with pillows from Pottery Barn. A West Elm rug covers the floor.

When the tin-roofed home came on the market, 36-year-old Williams co-purchased it in 2016 with resident preservationists Aubrey and Michele Preston. “It’s too small for a family of five,” jokes Williams, “but I wanted to turn it into a cozy, curated rental property.”

“I hope we can welcome families and couples craving quiet and restorative time and children craving a slice of the country,” says Williams.

After gutting the kitchen and bathroom, Williams—owner of three White’s Mercantile general stores, plus a 140-square-foot “White’s Mercantiny” outpost in an old smokehouse next to Sweeney Cottage—applied her designer’s eye to the decor. “I wanted it to feel like home mixed with lots of items from antiques malls and modern pops,” she explains. “I loved mixing the old and new.”

On a chalkboard paint–covered kitchen wall, Williams writes a special greeting to each guest along with nitty-gritty info like the Wi-Fi password.

To that end, Coleman’s signature cowboy sketches mingle on the walls with black-and-white historical images of the town. Says the mom: “I wanted to give the home a sense of redemption, to honor the people who long ago donated their blood, sweat, and tears to build the structure when times were harder.”

Williams ensured the home’s interior will hold up to its current inhabitants. In the kitchen, she installed butcher-block counters for less than $300 (“they will be aged and cool when they get beat-up,” she says) and piled break-proof melamine glasses from World Market on open shelves. Gray TEC Silverado grout keeps the subway tile looking cleaner longer alongside House of Hackney’s London Rose wallpaper.

The first of four properties (and counting!) she plans to list under the White’s Mercantile Room and Board banner, the space holds trinkets visitors can buy from her stores. But the true highlights are the personal touches inspired by Williams’s maternal grandparents, Warren and June White (namesakes of the shops). “They had huge holidays. We had supper at noon around the big table after the bell rang at their home in Louisiana,” says Williams, who caters to vacationing families with an eight-person farmhouse table from Scarlett Scales Antiques, games including Yahtzee and Apples to Apples, and a fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs out back. She also provides an heirloom-worthy Staub cast-iron cocotte, KitchenAid knives, and her favorite cookbooks. Those down-home comforts, notes Williams, will turn new guests into old friends.

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Country Living Makeover Takeover: Farmhouse Fix-Up

BY LAURREN WELCH AND LAURA KOSTELNY  view article >

In this year’s installment of our makeover series, singer-songwriter Holly Williams is transforming her tattered Tennessee fixer-upper one room at a time.

With two historic home renovations under her belt, Holly Williams (as in the daughter of Hank Williams, Jr., and granddaughter of Hank, Sr.) didn’t have plans to tackle a new project anytime soon. She and musician/artist husband Chris Coleman have their hands full with 18-month-old Stella June and little Lillie Mae Louise, who arrived in March. But when she stumbled upon a circa 1800s farmhouse—on Craigslist of all places!—just an hour outside her home of Nashville, she was powerless to resist clicking, and, ultimately, buying.

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Before: Exterior
Holly, with the help of Country Living Style Director Page Mullins, started with the outside of the house with its dreamy double porch. But with dingy siding and no landscaping, the home lacked curb appeal.

Without seating options, the spacious double porch was underutilized. “As a songwriter, I’m very inspired by old homes—the generations of love, loss, happiness, tragedy. There are so many stories that happened behind those walls,” says Holly. “I want to preserve the simpler times and honor beautiful pieces of architecture.

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Holly Williams on Her Country-Music Roots, Flipping Houses, and the Best Gift She’s Ever Received

The musician, store owner, and granddaughter of Hank Williams offers AD a glimpse into her happy home life in Tennessee

Text by ANTONINA JEDRZEJCZAK  view article >

As the granddaughter and daughter of country legends Hank Williams, Sr. and Hank Williams, Jr., it’s safe to say that Holly Williams, a successful musician herself, has Southern folk in her blood. But there’s much more to the crooner than creating music. Williams opened H. Audrey, a fashion outpost carrying top luxury designers, nine years ago and recently launched White’s Mercantile, a modern general store with a décor slant that’s massively popular with the residents of her home state of Tennessee. A busy mom of two small girls—two-year-old Stella June and seven-month-old Lillie Mae—with husband Chris Coleman, Williams still finds time to pursue her love of antiquing and house flipping (farmhouse, to be exact). With a White’s Mercantile set to open in Arkansas next spring and an ambitious bed-and-breakfast enterprise in the works, Williams spoke with AD about her own decorating style, the lasting legacy of her maternal grandparents, and the best gift she’s ever received.

whites mercantileTell us a bit about White’s Mercantile. I’m really passionate about the modern mercantile store. It’s named after my maternal grandparents. The Hank Williams side is always so focused on, but my maternal grandparents from Louisiana were very eclectic, cultured people for their time. I was really inspired by them and their design aesthetic, and my great grandfather had a mercantile. When I’m on tour, I’m able to find anything from an old wooden spoon to some fabulous olive oil or beard oil and put it in the store. I’m excited to say we are opening another location in a fabulous small town called Wilson in Arkansas in May.

How would you describe your personal decorating style? I love to create warmth and spaces that feel collected. My favorite thing in décor is modern-meets-Southern. In our house, we have these great brass shelves that are usually used in retail stores. They look very modern alongside black cabinets and our cream-colored stove. I also have my grandmother’s oil paintings everywhere. And I love to mix Lucite with club chairs that are falling apart. I also love to travel to antique malls and find goodies, or just find antiques from family—pictures and letters. For me, it’s all about mixing the old and the new, and creating something that feels lived in, with furniture that’s beautiful but you feel that you can actually sit in it.

Being from such a storied musical family, and a musician yourself, does music directly influence your decorating style? Curating is my passion. To me, creating a song in the studio with base, and drums, and guitar, or creating a room with curtains, and fabrics, and paint is all design. In the studio, when one instrument is harsh, you lighten it up by adding something else. So that translates to how I approach design—I love a black lacquer room with something feminine and soft to let it breathe. The great musicians that I know also have other passions, a love for creativity.

What are some of your favorite antique markets? Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta and Ohio happens once a month and has unbelievable deals. There are many French and overseas vendors coming over, so I get stunning oil paintings at 80 percent off the regular price. That’s where I get my leather club chairs and kitchen pieces. The Round Top Antiques Fair in Round Top, Texas, is also one of the best. In France, I go to Marche. I don’t really have days off anymore, but in my former life I used to love to hop in the car and take a Saturday to just drive. In Tennessee we’ve got many antique markets on the side of the road, but you have to pick through what’s crap and what’s legitimate.

What’s the best thing you’ve found recently? At Scott’s, I found the most beautiful, old Italian mirror with a 1780s newspaper on the back that’s falling off. It’s hanging in my kitchen and I almost want to flip it around and show the back of it.

Any other standout deals? Well, we bought a farmhouse on Craigslist. It was the greatest find of my life! Someone told me that every now and then you can find real estate on Craigslist. I searched for a white farmhouse and there it was. It was so unbelievably cheap—these people did not know what they had. We got eight acres and a pre-Civil War farmhouse that we’ve been renovating for about a year. It’s in Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville.

What’s your favorite piece of art in your house? My husband, Chris Coleman, is an incredible artist. It really came out of the blue—he was a musician forever, and with the Kings of Leon for years—but our schedules got too crazy when our first daughter was born. He delved into the art world and does these incredible black-and-white oil paintings. My favorite in our house is a painting called Horse by the River.

What’s always on your bedside table? Besides diapers, I’ve actually found time to start reading again, so I’m trying to do a good book every two months. Right now, it’s one called Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.

Are you listening to any music on repeat these days? It’s funny, even though I grew up in a country-music family, I don’t usually listen to traditional country. But Chris Stapleton is like the Stevie Wonder of Nashville. He has the most incredible voice I’ve ever heard on a human besides Adele. His songwriting and guitar playing are full of soul and tension. Lately, I’ve also been going back to my Tom Waits and Neil Young.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you come back from a trip? I’ve always dealt with vocal issues from doing too many shows, so my favorite thing is jumping in my steam shower, pouring a giant cup of peppermint tea, exfoliating, and getting all the airplane grime off. Then I pile on the couch with my girls and just have quiet time. I used to love to cook right when I got home, but now I’m too tired to do that. So it’s Postmates from a good restaurant and chilling with the family.

What’s the best gift you’ve received lately? A friend of mine who is a photographer gave me this beautiful framed picture of the moon that he shot on the night Stella, my older daughter, was born. He included a letter he wrote about where the moon was in the sky that night and what that meant. It’s the most thoughtful thing I’ve ever gotten.

What’s next for you? I love to buy and flip houses—I love the architectural side of flipping. I’m passionate about redeeming old houses. All over the South there are so many beautiful old farmhouses that are falling apart and getting torn down. If I ever win the lottery I’ll be buying every single one! My goal is to create the branded White’s Mercantile farmhouse experience (starting with the farmhouse from Craigslist). People will be able to come to these very small towns, stay in a lovely decorate bed and breakfast, cook, and just hang out. It’s fair to say within the next six months we’re going to launch a number of branded rental experiences.

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