Attracting hopeful musicians, professionals following big companies, big city folk looking for a slower speed, and those who are hoping to build a life in our much-talked-about city, Nashville — and its landscape — is quickly changing to accommodate the new arrivals.

Even before East Nashville made headlines for its increasing coolness, Ridley Wills recognized the city’s potential. He renovated a home on Fatherland that he then sold for one of the highest price/square foot at the time. An appreciation for historic homes and a dedication to their preservation has made Ridley Wills, founder of The Wills Company, an expert in home design and remodeling. After many years working extensively with realtors and homeowners, Ridley knows a thing or two about local housing scene. Here he weighs in with expert advice to current and potential homeowners for how to maximize their space and investment.

Be cautious of choosing a design aesthetic based on what you see on Instagram.

Ridley draws our attention to the many photographs flooding our social media, showcasing interiors that are overlit and all-white. While they can look great, he advises homeowners, “Be wary of picking a style based on such a ubiquitous and currently popular look.” As quickly as the style rose in popularity, it can soon become obsolete. “Choose your house’s look because you like it,” he says. “Find out what is special or interesting about your house and accentuate it. That is the trick.”

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Color, layers and textures make for an interesting design.

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When abandoning the all-white aesthetic, keep things light and playful with a bright paint color.

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If you are drawn to neutrals, use them as the base of your design and incorporate interesting elements to make the space shine.

Realize renovation opportunities.

Many of Nashville’s established neighborhoods have older, traditional-style homes, which is not the “in” look right now. Ridley sees this as a good opportunity for homeowners, because of the home’s great location and often overlooked potential. “A classically traditional exterior can be a wonderful vessel for a modern aesthetic on the interior or a sleek new addition,” he explains. “These traditional houses can become surprising and joyful. Just like a box of Crackerjacks, you have to open up the package!”

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There is not a singular style that defines architecture in Nashville; even this home with traditional exteriors boasts contemporary interiors that are packed with personality.

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Discover the full potential of an older home during renovations. Ridley has an understanding of design flow and creates spaces that are stylish and functional.

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If you own an older home, your bathrooms are likely begging for a renovation!

(Most) built-ins are out of style.

We were surprised to hear Ridley say that “because audiobooks and podcasts have taken over, bookcases themselves are not in vogue.” But, as a collector of books, Ridley still sees a place for hard copies in the home. “Save those books that are meaningful to you, and pass the paperbacks on to other fortunate readers. Make your bookcase count and give it style; don’t fill your house with books just because you have them; be purposeful, and let the books you love shine versus become clutter.

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Don’t skimp on the design of your bookshelves. If you want to display your books, do it boldly and stylishly.

In the same vein, Ridley tells us built-in audio systems are out. He explains the change: “Technology is changing so rapidly that many houses are left with technology graveyards. From intercoms to hard-line telephone jacks to expensive audio/video systems, all are mostly a thing of the past. Our need for communication, music and video can now be had in better ways for less money and done remotely. Get rid of those unsightly wires and be flexible in your technology selections. The formats will continue to change, and your house needs to pivot with it.”

Ridley leaves us with a few words of caution: “It may be fun to control your dishwasher while on vacation, but be wary of installing technology that can break and cause unintended havoc.”

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Simple and sleek interiors reflect the clutter-free lifestyle that most have adopted. Image: Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

outdated technology

Say goodbye to dated technology and be intentional when selecting what — if any — technology to have installed in your home.

Some of the best homes are not move-in-ready (and that is okay).

Although most movers want a move-in-ready home, they are hard to find in Nashville. Ridley believes the “tall skinny” style is selling like hotcakes because most are move-in ready, but the older homes in Nashville (from the 1990s, 1960s or 1920s) require renovations. “Many of Nashville’s houses from past building booms are in sore need of more than just an update/freshen up,” he says. “A new kitchen and paint job alone often won’t make these houses work. An expert in houses and psychology is needed to help sort out your priorities, determine what is critical, and design a plan that creatively brings you joy when you come home at night. These older houses often require basic system overhauls before the fun of paint color and cabinet details are ready to be discussed. Lipstick on a pig is a fun saying, but not when it comes to investing in your home.”

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When house hunting, don’t limit yourself to move-in ready homes. Older homes with character will require updates — and Wills Company can help. Image: Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

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Homes across Nashville are waiting for a lovely homeowner to give them some TLC. Image: Alyssa Rosenheck Photography

If you are looking for an expert in home renovations, look no farther than The Wills Company! Learn more about Ridley and the team — as well as the complete services menu — at willscompany.com.

This article is sponsored by The Wills Company.