amy azzaritointerior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: chelsea and tec petaja

by Amy Azzarito

this is one super-stylish power team! tec and chelsea petaja live in nashville, tennessee where when chelsea’s not teaching visual arts to montessori school students, she frequently styles photography shoots for tec who does both commerical and wedding photography. (she recently put together a beautiful yellow and gray tablescape for oncewed.) oh and somehow she finds time to run an etsy shop! {thanks tec and chelsea!}

[We bought this house, our first home, in April of this year.  It was built in 1905 and is tucked in a historic neighborhood in the city. We’ve spent the past half-year making it us.]

[The majority of our home is comprised of hand-me-downs, thrift finds, or items we owned separately before we were married.  However, the dining room table and matching bench were one of our first purchase as a married couple (from World Market).  The orange chairs are garage sale finds, and the yellow chairs are repurposed hand-me-downs from my sister.  The large painting in our dining room is by Dr. Tommy Mew, a former professor of mine.]

The caned chair was saved from a “Goodwill pile” and the frames, all from Ikea, display some of our favorite pictures and mementos.  The “We’re better together” wording was done by just painting it on top of a thrift store painting we already owned.


CLICK HERE for the rest of  chelsea’s peek (and all the photos on one page!)

The typewriter was bought at an antique store in East Tennessee to be use at our wedding for our guests to type well wishes on… though we never got around to buying a new ribbon so that it would actually type.  The bird lamp is from Urban Outfitters and the shade is from Anthropologie.


Tec and my dad worked on converting our garage into Tec‘s studio all summer long.  They kept the garage door intact so that it could be raised on pretty days.  Tec painted the door with chalkboard paint and tacked up some inspirational tear sheets.

The photograph of the children is an image by Rob Curfman, a former professor of Tec’s.

This is the desk where I work on my hair fascinators for Oh, My Deer.  Tec surprised me with the table last Christmas.  It’s an antique tailor’s table that he bought from Downtown Antique Mall here in Nashville.

The painting was done by Nathaniel Mather, a local artist who is also the father of a dear friend of ours.

The cups are one of my favorite details of our house.  We were married last year on June seventh… 06.07.08.

The family that lived here before us took beautiful care of this home.  They left the swing for us to enjoy the front porch with.

Tec’s studio is the image on the left.  We planted a moonvine that my mom gave us in front of his window and it grew like crazy.  The image on the right was taken on our front porch, showing our eating nook.

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  • Their home is beautiful.

    Is their black coffee table an Ikea tv stand?? I have the same one, but as a tv stand :) It looks lovely as a coffee table!!

  • Love the garage room and chalkboard door! The porch swing looks so inviting, I’m going to be putting one at our house next summer. Sa-weet house!

  • Can someone please tell me where that Scrabble P print is from? It is the perfect gift for my sister! :)
    Amazing home! Great peek!!

  • What a lovely couple and such a gorgeous home. (VERY much a “home” with the thoughtful and personal way it’s decorated.)

  • This home is one of the most inspiring places I have ever seen. What a wonderful life these two have. It really makes me want to reach those few extra inches to make my own days that much more beautiful.

    Thank you Tec and Chelsea for opening your doors and sharing your space with us.

  • I absolutely love this. Not too feminine, not too masculine; not too modern or too cute. It’s just right!

  • love your cups! I got married 8th july 2006, so they´ll also fit my kitchen. Your swing is fantastic

  • to represent someone whose careers are in photography, perhaps the photos should be a bit sharper? Especially the first portrait, not sure if it’s a resize from a small image, or simply out of focus.

  • What a lovely home! I also live in Nashville and have the exact same orange cane chair from a thrift store. I think our chairs must be related. Maybe I won’t reupholster it after all…

  • This post really made my day because not only is Tec & Chelsea’s home absolutely beautiful, but this post introduced me to both of them. I am already subscribing to their blogs now and a major new fan. I am so inspired by their work and creative spirits. Amazing talents! Thank you for introducing me. :)

  • Uau! Really love your home, guys! And I see we share two things: we have the same marriage date and a love for owls, I saw at least two beautiful pieces in the post…

  • Now I have another reason to love this couple even more! I didn’t think it was possible!

  • I love this house to bits, but I agree about the photography – the focus is way too soft and has me squinting (to no avail) to see the details….

  • A lovely decoration♥
    Seems that the pictures and paintings speak for themselves.. my God!

  • I love that every picture/item has a personal story! So much more authentic and fun than those store-bought interiors in so many articles! Beautiful!

    Any chance we could know what green was used to paint the living room?

  • how gorgeous are they?! i love their anniversary cups in the window seal and the wall that the Rob Curfman photograph.

  • their creativity and sense of each other as a couple is really reflected throughout the whole house…beautiful home!

  • this is one of my favorites…

    i really like the “we’re better together” display

    and the colors throughout

    and the scrabble tile

    and the books used as decor (here and in your tablescape)

    i love it ALL!!

  • So beautiful! Would love to know the paint color for the outside of the house if possible!

  • An amazing beautiful home! You are both so talented and it is fun to watch you create together. Welcoming, warm and full of love is how you feel when you enter this home.

  • I love that their artwork are by friends – means so much more that way and there is no better way to show their support for their friends’ art.

  • Beautiful home and the photos I saw on the websites were just amazing! If you see this, I would like to ask you whether the name Petaja is Finnish by any chance? It would be Petäjä (.. over both a’s.) here and it means “pine” in Finnish. I know there are a lot of people with Finnish roots in Michigan.

  • Yes ma’am, this is a beautiful home. I LOVE the photography…congrats on a great PEEK!

  • How does everyone know these people?! That’s crazy!

    I’ll have to agree with everyone above, the two of you have made a wonderful home for yourselves!

  • O, I have the same Smith-Corona! What a lovely wedding idea, even if it didn’t come to fruition. And such a delicious house — I love the blending of warm and cool shades throughout.

  • LOVE your style. And those beautiful pillows on your couch. Could you please share where you got them?

  • Hi Guys,
    How fun it is to wake up read DS and see my long lost cousins!! ( I am Rosalee Ann’s daughter) I can’t wait to meet you guys! I’m planning a trip to Nashville soon as it looks like a great place!..Congratulations!!! your house looks amazing!

  • I saw that painting in your dining room and thought it looked familiar. When I read the caption under it, Dr. Mew’s name was credited – it’s so awesome to see one of his students up on this blog! I’m lucky enough to have Dr. Mew as a professor for his last year of teaching at Berry College.
    Amazing house, by the way. The living room sofa image is probably one of my favorites.

  • aww…good to see your house guys….and nice beard, tec! :) that means its been too long since I’ve see you two. it looks great.

    AND! I didn’t know it was Mew’s last year teaching! Danielle, please tell him hello from joy (hoffman) thigpen!

  • Amazing stuff – even though it’s slightly different from what we are selling, but these furnishing ideas definitely have a lot to say to everybody.

  • What a lovely home!…fresh, warm & inviting. Yes, Tec Petaja has Finnish roots. His dad & I are cousins & our grandparents came from Finland around the turn of the century & settled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

  • I love the wall of photographs and the “we’re better together” saying. I like how that, plus other details of your home, vibrate values/mantras…. of what really matters. That is a wonderful way to live your life. Thank you for sharing!

  • totally inspiring beautiful home. really lovely to look at. made me reach for the colour palette for my lounge and am sold on a pink rather than cream kitchenaid!

  • as the dad of Chelsea, what makes me burst with pride most are the kind and caring comments that you make about her and Tec…they are a wonderfully creative and loving couple with large hearts…thanks kids for making your mom and me soooooo proud of you two…your love for each other overflows from the photos…what a beautiful future you two have and we love watching your love grow…

  • I love spaces that show whole; you don’t notice this chair or that piece of artwork, you feel the whole space. This house is a great example of that.

    That green is so happy!

  • you guys rock! i can’t believe here you are on design sponge! so excited. your house is amazing…..i’m jealous. love

  • thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you that wrote such kind, endearing comments. i was honestly overwhelmed reading such sweet words about our home!

    as for the questions, i don’t know how much help i’m going to be, but here goes:

    1) the paint colors are all a mystery. the previous owners, who took impeccable care of the home for nearly twenty before we purchased it, had great taste. the exterior of the home, the green in the kitchen, and the green in the living room are colors they painted while living there. sorry. :(

    2) as for the scrabble ‘p’, it’s just an enlarged photograph of a tile! but if you want the “real” thing, toby found this great link if you’d like a wooden tile: http://craigwoodworks.blogspot.com/2009/06/big-4-scrabble-tiles.html maybe we’ll have a kid one day and the ‘3’ will mean something. ha.

    3) the pillows shown in our living room shot are from target (gray and yellow) and world market (brown with embroidery). the pillows shown on the studio couch are all from ikea.

    4) and as for the origin of ‘petaja,’ it IS finnish, as rozann said.

    again, thank you again for the comments. they were the best.

    -chelsea & tec

  • LOVE the orange chairs in the dining room! My obsession has been the color orange. I”m crossing my fingers that I find some that are just as fantastic in all the thrift shopping that I do!

  • OMG! My grandmother had two of the orange caned chairs that you saved from the Goodwill!! Wow, I always thought they were the ugliest and most uncomfortable chairs. But it somehow looks good in your photo. Too bad those chairs are long gone now.

  • A stunning and unique home for a stunning and unique couple! I love the very many personal touches that grace every room of your house. Really beautiful.

    One question for you (though I’m sure you’re getting sick of the questions by now) – may I ask where you found your living room coffee table? My chaise and loveseat are very similar in color and style to yours and I’ve been trying to find a coffee table that was simple and streamlined (just like yours) to match.

    Thanks in advance! :-)

  • Tec and Chelsea, what wonderful style. Love the thrift store finds, hand-me -downs and eclectic mix. Two wonderfully talented people and super nice to boot! I’m inspired!

  • Is that driftwood covering that wall with the large photo on it or did the house just come vintage-ey looking and beautiful? love it.

  • Y’all:

    This is cute as a watermellon feast on a Sunday afternoon in East Tennessee. I live over on 12th Avenue South – if you would like to stop by, I would be as pleased as punch. Take care darlin’s


  • I have loved following Chelsea’s blog Oh My Deer for the last couple years. Her creativity is so inspirational and her blog led me to so many great ideas for my wedding a little over a year ago. So glad that you are featuring her beautiful home on Design Sponge. The way this house is decorated so beautiful and real. These two are both such true artists.

  • ahhh! tec is photographing my wedding and i plan on getting with chelsea to make my maid of honor and my hair pieces!

  • House stories like this are worth recording and sharing. I thought you would be interested in a new website we have just launched: http://www.historyofhomes.net

    Members are invited to record the history of homes that are special to them, ultimately creating a concise history of houses around the world.

    I invite you to add your historic homes. Membership is free!

  • Anyone know what their kitchen counters are? I can’t figure out if it’s a laminate or a slab (I’m thinking slab? but slab of what?). They’re gorgeous – I love dark counters!

  • Would anyone happen to know the exact colors of the house? green, navy, and the buttercream yellow?