A Heartfelt Undertaking

The Motlow Home

Bethe Motlow wasn’t looking to leave her quaint brick home in Red Bank when she stumbled across a charming pre-1850s farmhouse outside of the city. One of Motlow’s friends who had been working on the house for decades showed her the property, which had sat vacant for years. Sale after sale had fallen through for someone to purchase the home, and when Motlow stepped foot on the property, she immediately felt guided to become the caretaker for the historical house.

By Christina Cannon  /  Photography by Philip Slowiak

 

“It’s funny, really; I loved my home in Red Bank, and for a year, I wondered if I had made the right decision,” says Motlow.

One afternoon when renovations were underway, Motlow was helping install an antique glass doorknob on a newly refurbished door that provided access to a newly created room.

“The handyman was trying to free the lock so the door could close,” explains Motlow. “At that time, I was in the habit of wearing a vintage key necklace as a reminder of the keys to our greatest endeavors that each of us hold. The handyman turned and said ‘Give me that key around your neck.’ Low and behold, it opened the lock – to a door that did not exist, to a house I did not own when I was first given the key. Since then, I have never been more certain of where I belonged.”

Situated on roughly eight acres, the stark white, two-story structure carries with it an essence of true Southern hospitality that is further accentuated by a barn and creek at the front of the property. Even from outside the home, visitors can get an innate sense of the character that lies just beyond the front door.

Bethe Motlow

Bethe Motlow

Stepping into the foyer, Motlow’s eclectic style is immediately apparent. “When you walk into my home, I almost want you to be a bit thrown off as to what time period you’re in,” says Motlow. “It’s like removing a veil or something. People come in, and it automatically brings their guard down. I want people to be able to connect and experience these pieces.”

Contributing to the old-world charm in this space is an original telephone that hangs to the left and a mirror straight ahead that has been passed down for five generations. A branch emerges from behind a tabletop lamp and draws the eye upward while carrying with it the deep wood tones found in the room’s décor.

“I love to design with branches. To me, branches conjure and represent something positive,” explains Motlow. “Whether it’s a branch of a river, a branch of family lineage, or a tree branch like we have here, they are a reminder of how we reach out into the world.”

eclectic dining room with a heirloom globe chandelier accented with a cedar branch

 

Moving further into the home, visitors find themselves in the dining room. A modest oval table sits in the center of the room and accommodates four mismatched chairs. Another cedar branch rests overhead and adds visual interest to an heirloom globe chandelier.

A bar sits in the far corner of the room and offers up libations in style. Here, a gallery wall of historical family photos adds to the ambiance.

Warm hardwood high-sheen floors work to brighten the space and run past a set of original French doors and into the adjoining living room. Once again, a delicate balance of antique finds and family heirlooms commands the space.

“I come in this room a lot to read or just contemplate,” reflects Motlow. “I intentionally did not put any electronics in here because I wanted this to be a space where people could come talk and open up. I was very thoughtful about how this space is laid out.”

Traveling back through the dining room, guests enter the home’s kitchen, which features a lot of the same bones as it did when Motlow purchased the home.

“I take a bit of pride in being able to work with what is already existing, and that’s what I did with this room,” says Motlow. “I left the parts that were sound and functional and accented them with a mix of new pieces and heirlooms.”

Existing shaker-style cabinetry received a fresh coat of paint – gray for the lower cabinetry and cream for the upper cabinets. Solid surface countertops with an ogee edge detail were also present when Motlow purchased the home and are now complemented with a horizontal tile backsplash with a faint china-like pattern. Objects such as a vinyl clock, rotary phone, and stained-glass window maintain the charming and eclectic style found throughout the rest of the home.

“I like to marry new things with pieces that have history and a story to tell,” says Motlow. “I love it when people walk into a room and see something they connect to. They’ll say ‘Oh, my granddad used to have one of those’ or something, and it’s like these objects evoke a fond memory, bringing back a joyful time in that person’s life.”

master bathroom with patterned tile backsplash

 

Stationed on the second story is the master suite, which was previously one elongated room that has been broken up into multiple rooms. An old wooden door slides to one side and provides access to the master bathroom, which features gray walls with white wainscoting.

“When I purchased this house, every room was a different color. We had green, burgundy, yellow, wallpaper – you name it,” says Motlow. “So, I really wanted to tone everything down and provide continuity throughout the home. I had gray walls in my prior home, and I was a huge fan. It’s such a nice neutral color that can go with everything.”

The gray walls tie in with an array of abstract, square tiles that cover the combination shower and tub, which is angled to provide the perfect view of the creek that meanders along the front yard. An irregular-shaped mirror hangs above a white vanity with furniture-style footing.

Around the corner from the bathroom, the master bedroom takes the same gray walls seen throughout much of the home and builds upon them with furnishings that offer a pop of red. A large oriental area rug grounds the space, and a tufted velvet wingback chair belonging to Motlow’s grandmother rests just in front of a large window.

Additional inherited treasures and unique finds dot the room and help uphold the legacy of Motlow’s family while honoring the past of this historical home. CS

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