With property in Nashville becoming more and more scarce, well-established plots of land that have been passed down through multiple generations are a rare treasure. And any home that sits on such a lot, particularly one that’s woven into the fabric of a family’s history, deserves a thoughtful, intentional architectural design to complement that narrative. Such is the case with one American country-style home on Tyne Boulevard in Oak Hill. It’s the recent addition to a 6.16-acre shared family lot that also boasts a stunning landscape of mature trees, a pond and the original quaint cottage in which one of the homeowners and her sisters grew up.
Nashville-based architectural firm Pfeffer Torode took on this 6,012-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom home in collaboration with designer Rachel Halvorson and builder Joe Dunaway of Dunaway construction, working to maintain the nostalgic integrity of the property and building a house that, according to Rachel, feels “like a continuation of the original.” With a carefully selected mix of materials such as fieldstone, white lap siding and a slate roof, as well as innovative design elements, the team achieved an aesthetic that perfectly melds timeless tradition with modern functionality.
“We didn’t want the house to feel as if it landed here 30 years after the house that our client grew up in,” says Jonathan Torode of Pfeffer Torode Architecture, “but rather wanted it to be discovered as if it had always been just on the other side of the trees.”
“The house is uniquely situated on family property that our client and her two sisters grew up on,” says Pfeffer Torode Partner and Principal Architect, Jonathan Torode. “In time, each sister will return to the property with their own house in a way that allows them to share their memories of the home and land.” This particular site was chosen for its position next to a grove of trees — maximizing privacy and the view. As for the overall aesthetic, Rachel admits, “There’s always a challenge that comes with new construction; the house that belongs on that property is one that’s layered and collected and lived in. And how do you make a new house feel old?” She worked closely with Pfeffer Torode to accomplish that very ambiance, incorporating materials that she says, “feel like they’re built to last.”
The homeowners hail from Nashville and New York, respectively, and the architects used that for inspiration. “While these areas can present different architectural house styles, they have similar palettes when it comes to country houses. The white lapped siding resting on a base of fieldstone draws from both regions,” Jonathan explains.
Of the dynamic two-story roof pitch, Jonathan tells us, “While the house rambles a bit, we simplified the roof to two heights so that it wasn’t overwhelming.”
This built-in niche for firewood is one of many unique architectural design elements that Pfeffer Torode created to keep clutter to a minimum.
“The home is arranged around one linear space containing the living room, dining room and kitchen, which connects opposing wings of the house,” Jonathan says. “This allowed us to open the middle of the house to the front motor court and the rear yard with views of the pond. Both daily living and entertaining happen in this area, so we needed to carefully balance the scale of the family with the scale of entertaining, which we did by allowing circulation to occur on all sides of the living area. All of the support spaces (laundry, pantry, dog room, etc.) are just a step away, keeping the house intimate and easy to live in.”
A charming church pew, brought over from the homeowners’ previous residence, accents the beautiful entryway.
“I’ve never done back-to-back sofas before, but in that big front room, the main space is so long,” says designer Rachel Halvorson of the wide-open living room. “I was able to divide it up into two sitting areas — one that’s a little more focused and closer to the fireplace and TV, and another that faces back toward the kitchen. I love the furniture layout and how that worked out.” She used an earthy botanical print from Perennials Fabrics along with deep green mohair pillows, to contrast the stunning beams.
Initially, the designer planned to keep the windows the same color as the walls. However, the on-site decision was made to accentuate them with dark trim, creating another layer of texture so they wouldn’t disappear. Opting for simplicity, Rachel chose this bench from Holland MacRae in Atlanta, which serves as a functional, sculptural piece.
RELATED: Inspiring Building & Design Trends for 2020
To avoid too many painted elements in close proximity, the designer opted for a stained island that feels more like a furniture piece.
“We wanted the kitchen to be very simple,” says Rachel. She chose a slab backsplash that matches the countertops and island to avoid distraction. “I mean, you see the kitchen right when you walk in,” she adds, “so, I didn’t want it to have any elements that were so strong that they took away from the whole room.”
Concealed appliances make for a cleaner kitchen design. The refrigerator and freezer are fully integrated, blending in with the tongue and groove of the wood walls. In fact, the only appliance that can be easily seen is the top of the oven range.
Dark wood beams create a dramatic contrast throughout the home, offering a masculine touch that juxtaposes the feminine design elements.
In reference to the open floorplan, Jonathan tells us, “By far, the most interesting aspect of the project to me is the openness yet intimacy and privacy of the living area. The house wraps around you with a mix of materials and views so that you are nestled in, but it’s still connected to the property.”
While it takes a keen eye to spot it, a mirror in the butler’s pantry slides over to reveal a pass-through for entertaining. “The sliding mirror is one of my favorite details in the home,” says Jonathan. “It surprises people and lets them in on a little secret that there is more to the house than they first expected.” If you look carefully, you can see the exposed opening above the vanity, where the homeowners can serve guests with a cocktail or two.
Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green was used for both the cabinets and walls in this butler’s pantry, inspired by the rich tones in a portrait of the homeowner’s grandmother. “We wanted it to feel like a little jewelry box, where it’s all the same color,” says Rachel.
The dining room chandelier adds sophistication to the main living area, introducing an exquisite antique element to the casual, family-friendly space.
With tons of natural light pouring in, this serene bathroom draws your attention to the outdoors.
RELATED: This Historic Nashville Home Got an Amazing Makeover
The master bedroom ceiling reaches a full two stories on one side and dips down low on the other, giving way to an interesting design challenge. This unique bed by Bobby McAlpine, found through Holland MacRae, looks as though it was made with this exact room in mind!
A sitting room in the master bedroom affords a peaceful place in which to read or appreciate the view through the grand windows.
This gorgeous corner window, imagined and executed by Pfeffer Torode, makes for both a practical and beautiful laundry room. Showing it off by playing it up, the countertop runs straight into it with open shelving to allow for as much light to come through as possible. Of the design, Rachel says, “Unfortunately, we all spend a lot of time in the laundry room, so why not make it really cool?”
Even the mudroom is designed to keep messes at bay!
Somewhat atypical for the house, this powder room is a bit more on the dark and moody side. The Phillip Jeffries grasscloth adorning the walls adds elegance to the windowless space, and a custom-built floating soapstone vanity goes from wall to wall. Local vendor, Blue Door, created the antiqued mirrored wall behind the vanity.
The screened porch offers views of the expansive property, including the nearby pond.
Of the screened porch, Rachel tells us, “I wanted to design it so it would have space for sitting and dining. The sofa and loveseat are these iron-framed pieces from Century Furniture, with natural upholstery. There’s also a big stone table in the back” — perfect for family and guests alike.
As with any home design or renovation, the ultimate goal is continuing to bring the family even closer. And while the build may have had a few minor challenges to overcome, it’s clear the result is a beautiful home that carries on the family legacy. “The design process always has surprises,” Jonathan explains, “but good design responds to those surprises, which builds the layers of the project.”
To see more projects by Pfeffer Torode, Rachel Halvorson or Dunaway Construction, you can visit their websites. All photography by Nick McGinn.
See more stunning interiors and home design projects in our “Homes” section. Click HERE.