Jennie Hugo Gives Jacksonville Home a Fresh Start

Designer Jennie Hugo gives the owners of a 1928 Spanish mission-style house a vibrant new look.

The powder room takes its Eastern cues from chinoiserie wallpaper and the bamboo mirror.

Text: Lydia Somerville
Photos: Jessie Preza

Sims and Mike Wachholz lived in their historic Jacksonville, Florida, house for two years before embarking on a major renovation. During that time, they absorbed the way light shifted through the rooms, the way their family used the spaces, and the impact color played throughout the house. Built in 1928 as a spec house, the Spanish Mission-style house went on to become a landmark on the street, one that longtime neighbors were happy to see getting a refresh.

Fresh Start

In the foyer, a chandelier hangs over an antique bench that Jennie Hugo and Sims Wachholz found.

Fresh Start

In the living room, the sofa is covered in a linen velvet.

Fresh Start

Fresh Start

A vintage Lucite lamp sits on an antique chest.; In the butler’s pantry, Hugo painted the cabinetry Seal Skin by Benjamin Moore.

Fresh Start


Fresh Start

Built in 1928, the house is a beloved landmark.

Fresh Start

The pecky cypress ceiling in the kitchen gives the room a sense of weight, enhanced by the thick marble island countertop and iron light fixtures.

Sims, a former graphic designer turned painter, has a sophisticated eye, so when she approached Jennie Hugo, principal designer of Crosby Designs for Hugo’s Interiors, to manage the renovation, Hugo recognized it was going to be a joint effort. “We worked closely together on the project,” says Hugo. “Because she has such great taste, we were in constant agreement.” The pair shopped antiques shows and estate sales, as well as online resources like Design Within Reach, 1st Dibs, and Chairish.

Major changes included relocating the kitchen, adding a powder room, and building a guest cottage that doubles as Sims’s art studio.


Hugo painted every room a tried-and-true white. “I use Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore on most projects,” she says. “It’s the perfect white that doesn’t read yellow and has no gray in it.”

Hugo used most of the Wachholz’s existing furniture, creating a layered look in the living room with painted panels found at an estate sale, side tables varying from Lucite to mahogany, and an Oushak rug layered on sisal. “This room is a happy marriage of things Sims has collected along wih some great new finds,” she says.

In the dining room, a showstopping grasscloth wallpaper by Celerie Kemble sets a tone of festive elegance, amplified by curtains of pale pink glazed linen. White painted vintage chairs around a classic dining table add a devil-may-care spirit. In the family room, shades of blue spiked with lime green create a welcoming, dynamic atmosphere accented with trinkets from Sims’ travels. “The wool velvet on the sofas is so great,” says Jennie. “With use, it gains texture and just gets more beautiful.” Hugo designed the custom banquette for a nook in the corner where the Wachholzes, whose children are at boarding school and college, eat most meals.


The kitchen features a pecky cypress ceiling, a nod to the foyer ceiling that was original to the house. It lends a modern farmhouse feel to the space, amplified by iron light fixtures and antique brass hardware. A wooden sculpture that Sims bought found its home on the kitchen wall, the figure like an ancient saint of domesticity overseeing meal prep.

Hugo, who is a fourth-generation designer, is active in the family business, Hugo’s Interiors, founded by her great-grandfather in 1921. “I went to High Point market with my grandfather when I was in high school,” she says. Hugo’s makes custom furniture with hardwood frames and draperies in-house in their Jacksonville shop. “The quality of the workmanship is so good that I’m now reupholstering sofas my grandfather built,” says Hugo. There’s no doubt that the house she helped Sims Wachholz realize will similarly stand the test of time.

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