I hunt for extraordinary houses like paparazzi hunt for celebrities, and I got to snap a legendary beauty last week. It’s the very definition of Nashville Neoclassical, arguably one of the finest pre-Depression homes built in Tennessee.
This wonder of gracious living is in the Belle Meade neighborhood of Nashville, sited on nearly five acres of gardens. It was built in 1929 — with all the handcrafted millwork and amazing detail that implies — but this is the first time it’s ever been on the market. I looked at the listing, but I just had to see it in real life, so I convinced the relator to give me a tour. I could write post after post about the architecture and the gardens, but since I’m a designer I thought I’d concentrate on the architectural design elements that make this home truly special.
This home exudes grace in design. The entrance hall is at a magnificent scale, and has a dramatic floating staircase and Zuber landscape wallpaper, and it’s so arresting that you know immediately the home is going to be full of incredible details.
My favorite architectural detail is the dramatic wall of glass in the living room, which looks out over the gardens. The scale and span are unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I’ve toured my fair share of English manor homes and French villas.
Another element that really caught my eye is the arches that top the doors between the dining room and the library. The arch top was used to repeat shape from the bookcases in the library, and those arches are used in various other places in the house.
Of course, being built in the Roaring Twenties, it’s designed for entertaining. But even at ninety years old, this mansion is move in ready. I’m pretty sure I have the appropriate furniture.
I have an odd personal connection to this house. The original interiors were designed by well-known Nashville designer A. Herbert Rogers and his apprentice Albert Hadley. Hadley, you may recall, was and remains my muse.
I simply cannot get this place out of my mind. It is really one of the loveliest, most elegant homes I have ever seen in Nashville, and I wanted to share it so we can appreciate what “attention to detail” truly means. I think I get tired of seeing all the stripped-down interiors of today, and am longing for some old-world charm.
It’s a good thing we don’t have $5 million to spend on a house, or I’d tell Michael we were calling the moving trucks.
Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.