June ABODE: Tracey Love’s pared-down Greenwood retreat

(Photo by Andrea Hubbell)

A year ago, Tracey Love and her boyfriend, Bridge, decided to buy a Greenwood farmhouse that was built in 1925. “It was a lifestyle change for sure; it was a commitment. Friends that drive out treat it as if it’s so remote, so rural—when in fact I’m five minutes from Crozet, 10 minutes from a Harris Teeter and it would probably take me longer to get to the grocery store if I lived in town.” And as the manager of tavola and founder of locavore dinner series Hill and Holler, Love spends a lot of time in town, but relishes being able to escape to her historical country abode at the end of each day.

The house has traditional country elements: expansive front porch, wide open vestibule, high ceilings, heart pine flooring in narrow planks, horizontal shiplap, and oversized single paned windows with glass so old it appears almost wavy. Love has appointed the house with items that are just as old.

“My philosophy and mindset when it comes to most things is that I’d rather acquire something old, used, and beautiful to give new life, as opposed to buy some random new thing from Target. The quality of older things is always going to be better than the quality of something new.”

She spends most of her time in the living room: “This room is so open and has such high ceilings, it’s actually the thing that sold me on the house,” Love said. They go for an authentic, pared-down aesthetic and a lot of the changes they made included stripping down the house to its original elements. Many of the floors had been painted, including the kitchen and stairway. “One of the first things we did was strip the paint away to get to the gorgeous pine underneath. There’s no point in hiding it!”

Her word of choice for her decor is “hodgepodge,” which doesn’t do justice to the artfully arranged conglomeration of odds and ends. Eclectic Americana charm is more accurate. Favorite items include an illustrative painting of wooden animals, an old wooden chair whose paint has completely stripped away, a bust of JFK bought for $30 from a thrift store despite its $350 original price tag, and three beautiful barrister bookcases.

Nothing is matchy-matchy. In fact, Love gravitates towards mixing prints and materials that don’t naturally go together. “I like different textures and patterns and things that shouldn’t really go together, I like to make them go together.”—Cate West Zahl

“When I managed a restaurant in Richmond for 10 years, I fell in love with wine and decided to take the drastic hands-on approach back in 2009. Bridge and I put all of our stuff in storage, quit our jobs, and drove out to Oregon to do a six-month harvest internship at a winery out there. We considered settling down there, but Bridge had done his undergrad at UVA and kept being drawn to this area. So we stayed with a friend, looked for a place to live in Charlottesville and I got a job at tavola shortly after that. We’ve been here now two and half years.

“I certainly have plenty of things that don’t really serve a function. Or I’ll buy things like a wooden mandolin that at first I think ‘Wow I could totally use this’ and then, you bring it home and realize that actually you have no use for it. In those cases, I try to pass the old item along to more loving hands.

“I feel the same way about high-quality older things that I do about the quality of good food. If you have high-quality ingredients, you don’t have to do a lot to it.

“We have plenty of things that are weird, and old, and falling apart. We are cycling through stuff that no longer serves a purpose. Bridge is a cheesemaker for Caromont, and I’m in the food business, so you can imagine how overflowing a kitchen can become, especially if you have a penchant for vintage cookware.

“Bridge moved a lot and didn’t really have stuff. I, on the other hand, have been accumulating things for years now. It was a self-contained environment that I could move from space to space. So I definitely brought more into the house than he, but now we are accumulating together.”

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