Jonathan Savage transforms a former showhouse into a family home that’s both livable and luxurious
After touring O’More College of Design’s 2017 Designer Show House, Nashville designer Jonathan Savage’s client knew she had found her future home. Tucked away in the woods of the city’s idyllic Você neighborhood—which is built on the property of the late country music star Eddy Arnold and emphasizes sustainability and a connection to nature—the home immediately evokes a stately presence thanks to its entirely black exterior.
A longtime supporter of O’More and an admirer of the residence’s architect, Carson Looney, the client wasted no time in making her vision a reality. Before the showhouse even came to a close, she and her husband had purchased the home and enlisted Savage—who designed the dining room of the showhouse, working in the company of designers such as Robert Brown and Amy Morris—to transform the space from showhouse to a family home that felt private, comfortable and livable.
Also part of this transformation was, in collaboration with Looney, the build-out of an addition above the garage, which provided for the inclusion of a family room, bathroom and extra bedroom. “They wanted to make it as customized as possible to their wants and needs,” Savage says. “It was fun because we had spent so much time there that we were already familiar with the home. The showhouse was beautiful, and we just came in and added our SAVAGE touch.”
To avoid competing with the home’s abundant views of the outdoors and to juxtapose its inky exterior, Savage kept the color palette soft, running shades of greige, beige and taupe throughout and adding interest with elevated finishes and pops of color and pattern that call back to nature. “Every room has a base of greige. It’s a very neutral palette with just a few pops of color here and there,” says the designer.
In the living room, for instance, grass-green sofa pillows, dining chairs and barstools stand out against neutral fabrics and layers of drapery, which provide a sense of privacy. “The living room started with a neutral palette based on the existing kitchen and walls, and we accentuated that with the fabrics we chose, picking up the tones of the wood,” Savage explains. Around the fireplace, he created a comfortable sitting area, where the couple can spend time with their three adult children. “We made sure the furniture was comfortable, yet that’s the formal space to entertain in,” notes Savage.
One of the home’s most significant transformations was in the dining room, which Savage had enveloped in soft “Southern blue” drapery for the showhouse. For the new homeowners, he took a more edgy approach, incorporating two different wallcoverings: a coffered wood by Phillip Jeffries on the walls and a medallion motif by Hermès in the dining room niche. From the room’s existing drapery tracks, Savage suspended a pair of English botanical prints. “We strive to make the client’s home as personal as possible to them, and we were really successful in this room,” Savage says. “And she hired us knowing what we did in the dining room originally, which was funny.”
The overall result is a comfortable family home that feels current yet classic. “I feel like it’s today; it’s 2019,” Savage says. “There are traditional values throughout but clean design mixed in. Nothing is fussy, but it’s not too streamlined. It’s somewhere in the middle.”