As an architectural photographer and stylist, I see through my lens how we create and combine elements of a room to express our style or capture a feeling of warmth. Whether hanging drapes high for drama or small vintage touches that add just the right patina and personality, there are a few tricks of the trade to create a space that’s warm, welcoming, and soulful. Naturally, I particularly love spaces centered around community, comfort, and connection. So when U.S. News and World Report asked me to contribute a few tips to style a living room, I was happy to share what makes this communal space so special. Head to their site to read a few tips and hopefully add even more style and substance to your beloved space.
Traveling across the country to shoot and style homes for leading designers, architects, and celebrities pushes me to go deeper than the walls and capture the light and life giving moments each space embodies. In the process, I’ve come to realize that styling and shooting a home for editorial is not so different from prepping a home before it hits the market. With hundreds of miles in experience under my belt, I’ve put together my Top Five Tips for Staging a Home for one of my favorite blogs and Interior’s Enthusiast, Zhush!!
Much like readers, new homebuyers want to be captivated by a space. To do this, I focus on establishing a feeling of stillness and pause so that each viewer is able to slow down and connect. Our homes are where some of our most precious work begins. Within these four walls we build our dreams, harness our passions, hone our creativity, and take the time we need to rest.
My go-to tips make it easy for another family to step in and imagine themselves writing their own, unique story within the space. Selling a home means closing a chapter but for another family, you are helping to lay the foundation for their next. When it comes time for your home to hit the market—let’s make sure it’s a space that redefines traditional methods of staging to feel welcoming, warm, and full of love and gratitude!
If you know me, you know I LOVE mixing a little vintage and character with NEW when it comes to styling!! The “no rules” rule of vintage paired together with fresh aesthetics is such an integral part of #TheNewSouthern style vibe...allowing you to come as you are and live your best life with the things you have. Some of my all-time favorite online retailers for all-things vintage are One Kings Lane, Everything But The House (EBTH), and Chairish — this online marketplace is ideal for chic and unique pieces with a focus on supporting small businesses and creative moments! From funky art and decor to one-of-a-kind furniture, they are the authentic alternative for all of your home design needs and they go about it in the ultimate New Southern style. So, when the Chairish team came to me and asked me to share my personal Nashville favorites for their blog, I, of course, said YES! I am honored to be is such great company with many some really inspiring Nashville Ladies!
Nashville is truly one of my first loves. Bursting with personality and full of so much life — I will never hesitate to hand out my go-to’s on the city’s latest and greatest. There are always new finds that I’m eager to share with The New Southern community and I find so much of my inspiration in those discoveries. Sitting down with Chairish for this feature reminded me, once again, of all the things that I love most about my vibrant, creative home! You’ll get to know about my favorite local cultural hubs, must-try restaurants and design-centric hotel recommendations with a few other inspiring voices. We even got around to chatting about my vintage picking process and latest offline inspiration.
I am so excited to share these little, personal bits about how I see Nashville with one of my very favorite vintage marketplaces and I can’t wait for you all to read it! I hope it inspires those that live here to explore some more of the city’s magic and the rest to plan a visit sometime soon! And, if you still need an extra dose of Nashville inspo — give my Local Guide to Nashville a read! Xx
Favorite Hotel to Recommend to visiting friends and why?
When it comes to accommodations, Nashville has a home for everyone's personality.
Hotel Noelle - This boutique hotel will satisfy a high-level curated eye and offer a truly local Nashville experience, right down to the perfect setup for a pretty snapshot of your cup of coffee in the hotel lobby.
Urban Cowboy – If you’re in town for the music (and who isn’t, really?) stay at Urban Cowboy. It’s perfect if you one who loves, say, a good neighborhood bonfire, and you’ll expect friendly faces all year round.
The Thompson Hotel – This one’s a personal favorite! Because I’m constantly on the road, I am an amenities and location-obsessed gal. The Thompson Hotel is at the center of it all in Nashville’s thriving Gulch neighborhood, and every room is designed with clean lines in mind… yes please!
21 C – If your style leans toward minimal, you’ll love 21C, where you’ll fall hard for the design, but also instantly have access to a cocktail and an art exhibit upon check-in.
Favorite local cultural hub?
The New Southern is rooted in the idea of taking a unifying step forward in southern culture through creativity and community. Nashville exemplifies that very notion. Over the years, the city has become a transient hub which allows more and more ideas and diversity to flourish. It’s incubated this incredible creative cadence connecting us all. To really see Nashville, think about the city as a dynamic coming together of old and new, and of music and art. You can begin with the historic Musicians Hall of Fame, which honors all genres and the soulful stories behind each artist, or perhaps one of our historic city tours with subjects ranging from Civil Rights to art crawls. Exploring the arts in any city is almost like a time of prayer or meditation for me. Maren Morris said it best in her song "My Church" – exploring the historic birthing grounds to some of history’s best music here in Nashville is literally a religious experience. Don’t miss the Ryman Auditorium, the mothership of country music. The Station Inn is an intimate blue grass listening room, and of course, you can’t forget the Grand Ole Opry…
Favorite Local Attraction?
There are too many to name just one! Americana Fest happens annually in September and always has the best blended lineup, so you can listen to up-and-coming talent along with all your favorites. The seasonal show Girls of Nashville, founded by a few of my favorite songbirds (hello Heather Morgan, Caitlyn Smith and Maggie Chapman) which was just touted in TIME magazine, has such an empowering spirit, recognizing female artists and songwriters on the rise. As for food, don’t miss Donut Den, a Nashville staple since I first arrived – their apple fritters always satisfy my ultimate sweet tooth. The Hatch Show Print is a historic print shop that features vintage music posters from some of the greatest musicians of all time (Hello, Elvis! and while we are exploring vintage music, lets say hello to Third Man Records who is bringing Vinyl back in a BIG way!!) And if the weather’s great, stop by Cheekwood Botanical Gardens for a serene afternoon. You won’t regret it.
Favorite Local flea market / vintage hunting ground?
My Nashville picking spots are Gas Lamp Antiques and their sister shop, Gas Lamp Too. It’s also worth checking out the Nashville Flea Market, the Downtown Antique Mall, Porter Flea (check out Apple and Oak and Oui Fresh if you make it here) and Preservation Station. If you’re up for a little drive out of town, head past Franklin and check out the charming shops in downtown Leiper’s Fork. You can’t forget White’s Mercantile, which is old-school commissary meets new-age Nashville. Founded by Hank Williams, Jr’s daughter, Holly Williams, you’re destined to find a keepsake, whether a great vintage trinket, elevated kitchen basic, or a thoughtful hostess gift for the girl who has everything.
Favorite restaurant and item most ordered?
Like most things here, music and our food scene in Nashville go hand and hand! We couldn't have one without the other which perpetuates an inspiring creative energy that those of us lucky to be locals get to experience year-round. My all-time favorite restaurant, hands down, is a hidden Germantown gem, City House, run by James Beard Award-winning chef Tandy Wilson. You won’t go wrong with the Belly Ham Pizza without the egg! Give me all the pizza, always.
Other notable favorites are any of Maneet Chauhan's four restaurants. Maneet crosses all genres and is truly changing the culinary landscape in town from traditional Indian food to inventive fusion dishes. For starters, try Chauhan Ale and Masala House (get the masala fries…!) Try her contemporary Chinese fare at Tànsuŏ and order all of the dim sum (Did you know that translates to "touch of the heart?"), especially the Bao buns. And of course, don’t forget Sean Brock's award-winning Husk. To follow a good meal, head to Bastion, one of my favorite local bars, for a nightcap.
Best Local spot to People watch?
Each neighborhood has its own flavor. 12th South has turned into a local pedestrian-friendly walkable row of darling restaurants and shops... the people watching here is family-friendly with the cutest pups. For a more vibrant scene filled with cowboy boots, bachelorette parties and pedal taverns, head to Broadway downtown for Honky Tonk heaven.
Go to spot for offline inspiration?
Disconnecting is how I find inspiration. It’s as easy as grabbing a cup of coffee at our local Thistle Farms Café, an incredible non-profit that has the support from some of my favorite soulful voices like Oprah and Brene Brown. Another favorite spot for offline inspiration is through a good sweat at Inner Light Yoga or Hot Yoga Nashville.
One thing people shouldn't leave town without dong or seeing?
I wouldn’t leave town without enjoying an evening full of love and laughter at one of my favorite restaurants. Spend time with your favorites, enjoying food and conversation and the energy that this thriving, creative city gives off. You’ll get on the plane better for it – I promise! Oh, and always order dessert. Always.
Simplification. . .the art of editing. . .a sense of ease. . .aspirations of intention and effortlessness. There is beauty in substance. As a creative, I gravitate towards clean lines, simple geometries and negative space. As an entrepreneur, I invest in being efficient without compromising life-giving moments. This is an all year round approach for me and simplicity with great substance is intuitive and a daily practice.
Due to this being a season filled with extremes—extreme spending, excessive schedules—I am wanting to share a little visual relief along with a simple centerpiece idea for you and your families for the holidays! You all do so much and I am talking a ONE STOP grocery shop for your centerpiece decor and holiday meal planning!!! Yep, it is that simple. No more Pinterest fails here, or complex inspiration holiday tables. For me and my schedule, keeping it simple, classic and achievable is KEY!
My thoughts about holiday decor: I love organic elements and the best way to decorate for the season is through fruit and greenery. The middle of your table is an incredible opportunity for a beautiful flat lay in addition to candlesticks!!
Think about color and scale. My home is light, bright and airy; I love incorporating fun pops of color with art and florals. My grocery store had the most perfect shade of pink peonies and I scooped them up along with these beautiful clementines! Great color combinations for your table also include Bosc pears/greenery/with cut orchids….. I encourage you to experiment!! Also, think about scale and composition. For centerpieces, a visual high / low is important. Visually this keeps your eye moving around… the candlesticks on my table help achieve height while the greenery and buds ground the center of the table. The focus is on company and conversation and with my easy breezy centerpiece, it allows for some room to breathe and will not compete with our table talk!!
Add this to your grocery list to achieve this look:
Centerpiece INGREDIENTS (found at Whole Foods Market):
6 Satsumas or Clementines (with the leaves attached if possible)
Filler—My favorite types of filler to style with for a flat lay are any type of fern leaves, seeded eucalyptus, Nageia Nagi, Jade Palm, Eucalyptus Silver Dollar. . .Hello Filler is the New Floral!!
Arrange candlesticks first—the more the merrier.
Arrange the flat filler over and around the candlesticks to create a good base; stems go in towards the middle.
Sprinkle conservatively with fruit and flowers.
For a little extra extra, you can add fresh basil leaves or rosemary to appeal to all the senses.