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Coastal Cottage

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Photography by Harris Visual Media | Story by Emily Robertson

Bob and Jackie Browning spent 53 years of marriage collecting beautiful pieces of furniture and artwork to furnish the various homes they lived in throughout the Southeast. But, this past year, when it came time to retire and move to Bowling Green to be near family, they decided to get rid of all of their possessions and start from scratch in their new home.

“A few years ago we started talking about, when we retire, would we take any of our household items or start completely over in our dream house,” Bob says. “We had to talk about what that meant, what we would do with all of it and how we could let go of sentimental things that meant so much to us and our children.”

The Brownings decided to sort through all of their items and offer things to their children if they wanted them and then everything else was given away. They ended up only keeping a few pieces of small furniture and a couple of boxes. “It’s so liberating to start with a blank slate and it was really a gift to our children and ourselves,” Bob says. “Everything has a shelf life. We enjoyed it and its time to let it go. And for the furniture, its time to let other people enjoy it like we did.

The Brownings purchased a home in the Hartland area of Bowling Green that previously belonged to their daughter and son-in-law, which they had lived in since 2008. The home had previously undergone a renovation and addition in 2012, so the Brownings were able to move into the home in the fall of 2023 without needing to change anything about the physical structure.

“We changed nothing as far as walls or rooms,” Bob says. “They thought of everything during their remodel and it is wonderful how it is now. We’ve kept the purpose of the rooms pretty much the same everywhere, but we changed everything when it comes to furnishings: the
furniture, artwork, accessories and the floor coverings.”

The Brownings enlisted the help of Lisa Marshall and Natalie Hughes, owners of Embellish Home, to fill the four bedroom, three and a half bath home with pieces that were both beautiful and functional.

The outside of the home is a southern cottage style and when Hughes and Marshall began to ask about the Brownings lifestyle and interests, they quickly developed a plan on how to furnish the inside of the home to create a beautiful space that they would love. 

“They love a southern coastal vibe, so the color palette of lots of blues and greens really lent itself to that,” Hughes says. “Bob said he wanted the décor to pop, so we made sure to add a little more color into the home. Once we found the living room rug, we were able to build upon that inspiration for much of the rest of the home.”

The Embellish team also incorporated the few items the Brownings did have in the home, but repurposed them in new and different ways. They separated a set of mismatched night stands to function in other areas of the house and used some small seats as a bench area at the end of the bed in the main bedroom.

“We are about creating a feeling of coziness, lived in, comfortable style,” Hughes says. “And we love taking great things that people have and repurposing them. We love listening to the homeowner and what they want to give them the best design plan to suit their needs.”

When it came time to select artwork, Hughes and Marshall knew they needed to draw upon the Brownings interests to make sure that they loved the artwork. “They love traveling, they love the water, they love the mountains, so I feel like we tried to put a lot of nature on the walls,” Hughes says. “We leaned into the blues and greens, so it feels serene, without feeling rustic. We also tried to draw upon places they’ve lived in the past, or interests they have to find pieces they would be meaningful to them."

The end result of the revamp of the home is a cozy, southern, coastal dream, evoking memories the Brownings had of their past life and creating a beautiful future for the couple. “We wanted a place we could enjoy, even into our late retirement years,” Bob says. “Now we have a home where we will love getting up each day in the house of our dreams, not the house of our past. We believe this house will stay in our family and maybe one day, one of the children that grew up here will move back into the house. This house has special memories and we are so grateful to be here.

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