A Garage Reformed

October 27th, 2014

I met my dear friend, Gina, when our children were in preschool together. She and I have been practicing Pilates together for years now, and sometime last year she called me up and told me she was getting her Pilates teaching certification and converting her garage to a studio. So in addition to her existing professional career and child rearing, she is now a certified Pilates instructor. Over achiever! 

She called me and my husband James and asked that we design and build out the studio for her. It was a fun project that turned out to be beautiful; not to mention she is now forever indebted to me and has made it her life’s mission to transform me in to the perfect Pilates specimen. That last statement is wildly untrue and in fact impossible, but I like to pretend. Here are some pics of what we did!

We started with a normal ole garage in Nashville’s Sylvan Park neighborhood filled with bikes, yard supplies, the family car, and the sacred beer fridge. 
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Obviously we needed a massive cleaning and a lot of fresh paint. We painted the whole thing (trim, ceiling and walls) with Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White; stained the floors and added a coat of polyurethane; and had to add heating and cooling lest we freeze in the winter or sweat to death in the summer. Then finished off with new lighting, trim and hardware.
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James built us a giant wall of sliding doors to hide the garage items that could not be relocated, still freeing up enough space to have 4 reformers. With a ton of reclaimed wood from Woodstock Lumber, James whitewashed it all and up it went along with two giant mirrors.
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James took his job and compressor very seriously.
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I honestly never thought I would love a garage door so much. But I LOVE IT. I use to dream of a vintage Birkin bag, and now I would take this door over that little beauty any day of the week. For real.
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The best part of all of this is that I now have my own personal Pilates maven and a beautiful little playground for when I actually get a minute to do something good for myself, which now that one of my BFF’s can teach me, I am much more likely to go. I also happen to know that Gina keeps a surplus of beer and wine behind those sliding doors. You know, just in case!
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For more information email Gina Brooks at gina.t.brooks@gmail.com. Girl will whip you into shape!

And as always, many thanks to Q Avenue Photo for always taking such perfect photos!

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Nashville Skyline: a modern point of view

September 5th, 2014

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Last year a young professional athlete came to me in need of design help for a Midtown Nashville penthouse he was in the process of buying. One of Nashville’s swankiest addresses with 180-degree views of the city and purportedly the Nashville base for Taylor Swift, we embarked upon transforming the space from traditional to über modern. Far more befitting a young Swiss transplant.
The apartment had been professionally decorated and done well, just not in my client’s style. Nor mine. A LOT of beige, far too many earth tones and not much personality.
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We began, as I always do, with paint. We repainted the entire apartment, walls, trim and ceilings, and replaced carpeting where it existed. My tried and true Farrow and Ball color, Cornforth White, was used throughout the main part of the apartment which instantly brightened the already sun drenched rooms. We worked with one of my favorite stores in Nashville, Nouveau Classics, on many of the pieces. We chose an Eilersen Tub sofa and ottoman. I cannot convey how much I love this company. Handmade in Denmark with the utmost regard to quality and craftsmanship, they are beautiful and so very comfortable. Tomesella Podio coffee table, Nuevo Living marble side tables, Nuevo Living Conner Chair and my favorite little West Elm white task lamp.
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This area of the apartment was staged as an office, which I doubt was ever used. When presented with the option of a reading corner or bar, my client just rolled his eyes at me and I took my leave to go begin designs for a bar.
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At the time we were selecting art for this project, we were personally buying a few of Gray Malin’s Á la Plage prints. I brought my client hundreds of art options and it was Gray Malin’s Prada Marfa series that he immediately said yes to. It couldn’t be more perfect above the white lacquer bar.
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My client did not want to incur the expense of replacing the backsplash or granite in the kitchen, so we opted to update the seating and pendant lights.
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The smallest changes can have a huge impact. Tom Dixon Mirror Ball pendants and Calligaris New York Swivel counter stools gave the kitchen a much more modern look.
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The previous owner had used a round dining table which was ideal for the space. I campaigned heavily for a round Saarinen marble table but in the end, I lost.
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My client was set on this Restoration Hardware table which I actually ended up loving. I did, however, manage to convince him to use the Knoll Tulip chairs. The light is the Brera Suspension Lamp by Creative Mary, a beautiful custom lighting company based in Portugal.
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My client loved the Warhol gun prints and I ended up just buying them on art.com for next to nothing. We had them framed nicely by Midtown Gallery here in Nashville and they look great.
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The guest room was dark and not at all welcoming.
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We used Farrow and Ball’s Dimpse on the walls and thick linen draperies. We upholstered a Camerich bed in a deep navy with all white linen bedding. Artemide Tolomeo sconces and mod loft nightstands. My favorite is the Brooklyn Bridge mural by Flavor Paper.
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It’s the little details that give a space its personality….
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An aerial view from the second story. All in all, the apartment feels modern, bright and infused with character. Now I just need to figure out which apartment Miss Swift owns and slip my card under her door.
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Ever so many thanks to Brad + Jen of Q Avenue Photography for their beautiful (as always) photos. And to James Wilson and Carrie Crowell for their help on the shoot and throughout the project.

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Balancing Act: Scandinavia by way of the South

June 1st, 2014

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Once in a blue moon a client comes along who possesses impeccable taste, is a joy to work with, trusts you implicitly and you adore them. Two years ago, just those people came into my life. My clients purchased a new build in my favorite neighborhood of Nashville, a mere five minutes from my own house. A dream for those of us that find driving to be the most loathsome task on earth. Without a piece of furniture to their name (they are Scandinavian transplants), we started with a blank slate. Their only real requests were keep it black, white, grey and modern. And off we went. As the interior progressed, they decided to take the design outdoors and we added a pool and outdoor living spaces.The pictures (thanks to Brad + Jen of Q avenue photography) mask the mayhem and bumps that ensued along the way. Nothing showed up when promised, painters were fired, I have 10 yards of of insanely expensive fabric collecting dust in my garage because of my own error, brand new irrigation systems were destroyed by rogue digging equipment and my children’s faith in my abilities was seriously questioned. I took my girls over to the house with me one day so they could see the pool we were putting in. They looked in the backyard, which was a disaster at the time, and my youngest said, “You did this to their house?!?? Mama, you aren’t very good at your job”. This is also the child, who when asked what her mother did for her job, told her class “she has lots of men clients and she goes to their houses for work”. Which might explain the noticeable lack of play date requests. But I digress. Some how it all turned out and these clients have become dear friends of mine. Here are a few photographs of the finished product.
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One of my favorite paint colors is Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White. It is a true grey that does not read brown or blue as many do. I used that and Farrow and Ball’s Blackened throughout a majority of the house. We chose Verellen sofas in organic white linen with Schumacher and Designers Guild fabrics on the pillows. Arteriors marble coffee table and Patterson Flynn and Martin carpet. Painting by the endlessly talented James Wilson.

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This is an old table I found at an antique store in Franklin, TN. We had to alter the legs a bit but it fit in the space perfectly. And the old camp stools from a thrift store are a perfect fit.

crowell_vosswood_0026Everything in the house was brand new so in the interest of frugality we were selective about what to replace. I have a strong personal aversion to granite but this was brand new so we had to work around it. We painted the cabinets a fresher, brighter white and tiled over the builder basic tile with this hexagon marble from Mission Stone & Tile. Just those small changes made a huge difference.

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We painted an accent wall Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore, which has a slight brown undertone and was perfect in the kitchen with the earth toned granite. I found an old farm table at Scott in Atlanta and used white Eames chairs and a sisal rug. Christopher Farr is one of my favorite fabric designers and I love the look of this muted print, Breakwater, in this space.

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These German educational botanical prints were little etsy treasures.

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This shade of grey (Amherst Grey by Benjamin Moore) pulls just slightly purple, which is beautiful with the Bryan Nash Gill wood prints and the Patterson Flynn and Martin rug we designed, which took forever but was so worth it! Arteriors chandelier, Verellen host & hostess chairs, Restoartion Hardware dining table and my favorite Carl Wegner wishbone chairs.
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My client is beautiful and sings like a bird. If she wasn’t so damn sweet, I would hate her. Music is such a pivotal part of both their lives so we turned the front room into a music room and Library. This might be my favorite room. All black and white with the books being the pop of color, it is so bright and fresh and endlessly inspiring. The oversized Amanda Means light bulb prints are stunning.
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I found these chairs in Atlanta at a “Palm Beach” themed flea market booth. They were dirty yellow with fabric I was convinced housed several thousand bedbug families. After serious extermination, we lacquered them black and reupholstered the cushions in Designers Guild fabric. Madeleine Weinrib pillows, a jielde floor lamp and élitis fabric for the draperies.
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I covet their library. COVET.
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The same Kendall Charcoal we used on the kitchen accent wall we also used in the master bedroom. We had the bed custom made and used Restoration Hardware linen bedding with Designers Guild throw pillows. Visual Comfort sconces and bedside tables designed and built by James Wilson.
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My clients and I share a love of Frida Kahlo and as soon as we saw this print, we knew it was a must have.
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Patterson Flynn & Martin carpet, Noir bench, ro-sham-beaux chandelier and Bart Halpern fabrics.
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This is perhaps my favorite furniture piece in the house and the most likely to mysteriously disappear. BDDW Lake oxidized maple credenza and a Bill Rastetter print. swoon.
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Anthropologie bench and painting by James Wilson.
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An office with a view of west Nashville and a jielde table lamp is all you need to persevere through the paying of bills and other monotonous office tasks. My sister asked me if the typewriter sent emails and now that’s all I want in the world.
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Emeco office chair, Restoration Hardware desk, Madeline Weinrib rug. Etsy and Ikea prints on the wall (we spared no expense!)

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This Taylor Scott grey velvet sofa with Madeline Weinrib pillows is about the most comfortable thing on earth. Marimekko fabric for the roman shades and Designers Guild fabric on the benches. Mooi lighting and Nuevo Living foos ball table.

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The lovely and talented Michael DeMay did all of our concrete work.
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I love this Gustavian Bed with Coyuchi bedding and pewter task lamps, both from ABC carpet.

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Cole and Sons Woods wallpaper is one of my favorites. Noir bed, Designers Guild bedding, Visual Comfort sconces and Keith Richards photographs by Ethan Russell.

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We did a very simple white linen roman shades with a black ribbon. West Elm dresser, Noir abacus chair with Designers Guild fabric and 1930’s astronomy illustrations I got for a steal at the Brooklyn Flea market.
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A vintage Parisian hotel sign that is apropos as the entire second floor becomes just that when both families descend at the holidays.
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Green Tolix chairs with a wood and metal table we designed is perfect for a lush Tennessee back yard.
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Acapulco Chairs

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Schumacher outdoor fabric, Mod cement tiles from Mission Stone around the fire pit and custom redwood benches by Michael DeMay.

To see more images or to purchase to the trade furnishings and textiles please visit Crowell + Co. Interiors.

Also, endless thanks to Brad + Jen. Check out their website! Q Avenue Photo

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Rehab : East Nashville Project.

March 31st, 2014

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My love and frequent collaborator, James Wilson and I embarked on a project together a little over a year ago to renovate the kitchen and bathroom in a cute little bungalow in East Nashville. What began as a pea green, unsightly (I am being kind) laminate nightmare turned into one of our happiest places on earth. Not without a fair amount of work. We are now set to close on a new home soon that makes this kitchen renovation feel like a walk in the park. The new house’s crawl space is absolutely infested with black widows, rampant electrical issues exist that could surely have it condemned if caught by an inspector having a bad day and the master bath is so small that the toilet is practically located in a shower. So either we will end up with a little gem that is all ours…or there will be blood. Honestly, it’s hard to tell which way it’s gonna go at this point. Stay tuned for rehab pictures and if you don’t hear anything from me soon, please write to me in prison.

Here’s the one we made it through without killing one another…just barely.

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