To mark the grand opening of Ann Sacks’ newest showroom — the first in the country that features the company’s extensive tile offerings, paired with a new, exclusive slab gallery concept, as well as Ann Sacks Curated Bath vanities — Clinton Smith gets the lowdown from tastemakers in the know.
Nashville is known for lots of things: Country music, great food and, of course, its renowned Southern hospitality.
It’s also becoming known as a magnet for all things home. The esteemed Nashville Garden and Antiques Show is seen by many as one of the premier events on the annual interior design circuit and is just one of the reasons the city has become known for its emerging style scene. Architects, designers and collectors flock to Music City every February for the event. In addition to the fine wares available for sale, keynote speakers over the years have included the likes of acclaimed designer Bunny Williams, lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, and even Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales and godson of Queen Elizabeth II. Hundreds show up for these candid and informational talks, held at the city’s massive convention center. Yet, despite all of the fanfare, the event conveys an air of approachability, despite the event’s cachet and prestige. Casual observers and attendees are just as welcomed as long-time collectors. The ability to educate one’s eye is just as respected here as the ability to purchase.
Nashville also has no shortage of varied neighborhoods for residents to find a place to call home that suits one’s lifestyle. The city’s Belle Meade area is a lush and exclusive neighborhood that features homes with important architectural pedigree. Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood has become a hip and bustling area of cool shops and James Beard award-winning restaurants.
Just within recent weeks, the venerable New York-based textile and wallpaper house Schumacher announced a new storefront debuting in Nashville in October, catering to both design enthusiasts and professionals. It is the 130-plus-year-old heritage brand’s first new location in almost 24 years (since 1998), and is just one more harbinger of exciting things to come.
Now is an invigorating and inspiring time to be embedded with the Nashville community, and one in which the Ann Sacks family is thrilled to contribute to its creativity and prosperity. We’ve asked three design experts for their takes on how the city has evolved and what makes the city so special.
For designer Jonathan Savage, returning to Nashville was a full-circle moment.
“I was born and raised in Nashville,” he says, “And I moved back here in 2010 from New York City.” At the time—more than a decade ago— Savage says there was a bit of an adjustment period, professionally, returning to the Tennessee capital.
“In New York, you have the convenience of everything at your fingertips. And when I moved back to Nashville. I was like, well, where do I go to shop?” Primarily, most paths for high-end and trade-only designer goods at the time led him to the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (best known as ADAC), the Southeast’s primary hub for procuring trade-only textiles and top-tier home furnishings. The only hiccup? It’s about a four-hour drive each way.
“I've spent hours and hours and hours in the car going to and coming from Atlanta, but, slowly, maybe in 2019 or even as early as 2018, things started changing."
The demand for quality home furnishings in Nashville has surged and shows no signs of abating—and showrooms and retailers have taken note.
One such example is the Nashville Design Collective, a consortium of about 10 design showrooms that came together to establish a local presence in the city in 2019 that signified a major tide shift in how locals and local design professionals could shop for all things home.
“Nashville is growing,” adds Savage. “A lot of our clients are transplants from Chicago, New York, and L.A., and they are all accustomed to having things at their fingertips.” In fact, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 36 people a day are moving to city.
While Savage doesn’t usually go on major shopping excursions with his clients, he’s now afforded the luxury of convenience with design pop-ups that come through town, as well as companies that have established a permanent presence in recent years.
“For the first time, I can say to a client, ‘Go by Ann Sacks and look at this tile for your primary bath and let us know what you think.” While ADAC continues to be an invaluable source for goods that Savage sources on a regular basis, having local outposts in Nashville reduces the 500-mile round-trip excursions for him and his team.
“It's just a different kind of approach to life,” says Savage of the city’s current vibe. “The houses we're seeing today are just more casual in nature.” Savage deftly mixes locally-sourced products with objects that he has personally curated from his international travels, including regular visits to the Paris flea markets, a constant source of inspiration.
He adds that recent design requests from Nashville clients—many of whom are not Southerners by birth—range from elaborate sculleries to accompany chef-style kitchens, as well as resort-style amenities outdoors.
And if there is any indication that Nashville style knows no boundaries, Savage has designed for the prestigious Kips Bay New York Decorator Showhouse, and recently opened a design studio in Palm Beach, Florida, taking his eclectic, elegant approach to the chicest of tropical climes.
For California designer Brooke Giannetti and her architect husband Steve, the allure—and captivating spell—of Nashville eventually became too much to resist. Having raised their three children in Santa Monica and Ojai, and where they established their highly lauded professional careers throughout Southern California (and far beyond), the couple is embarking on a new journey, relocating from the Golden State to the historic community of Leiper’s Fork, just outside of Nashville.
Brooke’s 175,000 loyal fans and followers on her Instagram account, @velvetandlinen, have been able to hear about their move from their home, Patina Farm, in candid videos and personal posts. Years in the making, the decision to relocate was not one that was made lightly, but it made sense for the couple—and, maybe most importantly—just felt right for several reasons.
Perhaps serendipitously, it was one of Steve’s architectural commissions in the area that piqued their curiosity about Nashville. “Steve was going back and forth for work, and kept telling me about how beautiful it was and how lovely the people were and that we should go together,” says Brooke. “So when he would come out here, I would go with him. And we just kind of fell in love with it.”
As the authors of five books on the homes and lifestyles they’ve created for others, as well as themselves, an exciting new chapter awaits, much like for others who have found the city’s charm too much to resist.
“There’s a lot of preservation going on there, because the residents really appreciate the old buildings and the history of the place. And it's also filled with artists, musicians and other creatives. Storytelling is really strong of course, because country music is all about storytelling. That's part of what drew us there,” says Brooke. “A lot of people are trying to preserve the nature here, so they are buying big pieces of property and then putting it into land trusts so that it can never be broken up into subdivisions.”
Establishing roots of their own has been of utmost importance for the Gianettis. Besides restoring an historic log cabin on their property, Patina Meadow, they have plans for a new house in the works. Next up, though, is a new shop, Patina Home & Garden, that everyone will be able to visit in October.
“At one point it was the old General Store, which we love,” says Brooke of the shop’s new location. “It’s in town, it's got like 12-foot ceilings, and big windows. There's a little room off the back that we're going to have as the farm shop that will have an outdoor garden. It really feels like a local landmark, and is a charming little spot.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Southern hospitality has been extended to the Giannettis throughout their adventures in Nashville thus far.
“People have been so helpful to us, and just lovely,” says Brooke. “Everybody feels like they're in it together.”
In-demand Nashville interior designer Sarah Bartholomew —best known for her gracious designs that meld historical precedent with the present (and future)—has long had her pulse on the regional design scene in the area. So much so that she has recently introduced a number of acclaimed and covetable home furnishing collections with national partners such as Mainly Baskets and fabrics powerhouse Lee Jofa.
“When I moved to Nashville 20 years ago,” says Bartholomew, “the interior design aesthetic was uber-traditional, with a strong southern influence. As Nashville has grown and evolved, interior design here has become a melding of a multitude of styles with an eclectic, but warm, aesthetic.”
Indeed, interiors in the city blend global and regional influences, as well a myriad of periods and styles from a range of disparate eras—the city’s aesthetic can’t be categorized or pinpointed into one specific look.
As for many others, Nashville’s meteoric rise in popularly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Bartholomew either.
“It’s so hard to pinpoint when or why this city became so hot, but I am not surprised. When I first moved here, I fell in love with the city's natural beauty, it’s gracious, warm and inviting community, and the family-friendly lifestyle. There are so many growing industries that co-exist here—music, entertainment, healthcare, and much more. One of my friends has a theory that the TV show Nashville was the tipping point for the city’s growth—ha!”
The city is also known for its hospitality, both to tourists, as well as hosting friends and extended family at home—whether it’s an outdoor summer barbeque or regular gathering for Sunday suppers.
“Nashville is an entertaining town, and its residents entertain beautifully, with grace and ease,” says Bartholomew. “My work and product lines are designed with that lifestyle in mind.”
Lastly, one of her favorite things about Nashville is its respect for the past, but with an eye cast toward the future.
“There is a lot of history in this city, and a strong southern architectural aesthetic, both of which I love. I have always looked to historical interiors to pick out elements that have stood the test of time, and then I try to incorporate those elements into my own designs in a new, freshly interpreted way.”