When a former Baptist parsonage went on the market in Palmetto, Florida, lifestyle influencer Sarah Tucker recognized the potential of the old house. “I felt an immediate sense of home. I was excited to refresh it with paint and light fixtures but hit the jackpot with its good bones,” says Tucker, who bought the place in 2014 with her husband, JB. Nestled near the Manatee River in the city’s historic district, the 2,800-square-foot Colonial Revival home came with plenty of Americana style. But as with most older houses, unavoidable headaches followed suit, like the cloth wiring that had to be replaced and a shortsighted 1970s addition that had popcorn ceilings. She persisted with tasteful updates, adding her traditional-meets-approachable aesthetic. The mom of two likes the close-knit community as much as the house. “It feels like stepping back in time in the best sort of way,” Tucker says.
When the couple first toured the house, the mature jasmine vines along the arbor and picket fence were in full bloom. “I was hooked,” recalls Tucker. Another factor that sold them is the bike-friendly community; the family often pedals to local ice-cream parlor Alice Scooper’s and then walks on the pier to watch the boats pass by.
A living room vignette highlights Tucker’s collection of blue chinoiserie pottery. “I’ve been collecting it for years, including pieces from second-hand stores,” she says. “There are also special ones that my mom has given me.” The sweet scene is anchored by a scalloped wicker side table from The Enchanted Home . “I love wicker,” says the tastemaker. “I think every room needs at least a touch of it.”
After she’d admired her neighbor’s antique church pew, Tucker was surprised that he gave her the treasured bench before moving into an assisted-living home. “I’ve never painted it because I’ve loved it just the way it came to me,” she says. “He told me he got it many years ago from one of the oldest churches in Bradenton.” It’s also a perfect complement to the wall color ( Sherwin-Williams’ Sea Salt, SW 6204 ).
Tucker’s secret sauce for a great tablescape? Layers, textures, and mixing old with new. The space features a vintage table and cane chairs she scored for a song at a local thrift store. She chose an Amanda Lindroth tablecloth, Cailíní Coastal wicker place mats, Addison Ross lacquered blue chargers, and Ginori 1735 plates (a special birthday present from friends who know the dinnerware fanatic best).
Dose of the Coast
When designing the living room, Tucker found inspiration in the iconic aesthetic of The Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande . She anchored the space with a large statement clamshell filled with various beach finds collected throughout her travels. “Most recently, my boys added conchs from Harbour Island in The Bahamas,” says Tucker. Blue ticking stripe club chairs pair swimmingly with the natural wood tones of the Wisteria spindle-leg coffee table and printed ottoman, which stores activities for impromptu game nights.
Following Her Heart
Tucker is known not only for her style but also for her positive spirit, which grew even stronger after she had open-heart surgery at 23 years old. “Hardships give you perspective. When you reach the other side, you feel this gratitude, a zest for life, and a sense of purpose,” she says. “It gave me the realization that we have one life and it was okay to change the path I thought I should be on to the one I actually wanted. I have my master’s degree in science but pursued a creative life instead.”
The White House
This former parsonage has deep roots in the community. “So many people will walk by and say how they’d been in the home as kids or adults, from Bible studies to baby showers,” says Tucker. The house was painted a dull pink when the couple bought it, so they transformed the exterior with classic white for the siding and Benjamin Moore’s Onyx (2133-10) on the shutters and door. “I didn’t need to change much other than paint,” says Tucker. “That’s one great thing about an old house; you get the mature trees and landscaping.”
In the primary bedroom, they selected a soothing shade of blue ( Sherwin-Williams’ Take Five, SW 6513) to set the tone for the space. The enveloping upholstered bed by Hooker Furniture feels like a cozy hug. A trio of framed hydrangeas from Charleston, South Carolina-based Urban Garden Prints punctuates the look.
The Evelyn Wallpaper by designer Lulie Wallace was an easy choice for the powder bath. “It just looked like it belonged there, as if it could have been there 60 years ago,” Tucker says. The historic character continues with the original sink, which was given an update with new brass hardware.
The screened porch is original to the home ( haint blue ceiling and all! ), but she updated the space with new floor tiles, a swinging porch bed, and a small dining table perfect for early breakfasts or late-night dinners. “It’s one of my favorite spots in the house, especially when it rains,” says Tucker. She styled the outdoor spread with scalloped rattan place mats from Crate and Barrel , dishes from Kate Spade , and a centerpiece in a Lettuce Ware Pitcher from Tory Burch .