It was supposed to be just a kitchen renovation. “This was our dream house, but the kitchen was the one thing that wasn’t perfect,” says Cassie Kelley of the Nashville home she shares with her country singer husband Charles Kelley of Lady A.
Kelley wasn’t looking for “a massive project” — the couple had previously been living in a home that they had recently renovated in order to flip — but she called her longtime interior designer, Lindsay Rhodes, to discuss the kitchen and discovered that Rhodes was intimately familiar with the house: One of her dear friends had lived in it a few years before. “I had sat in that kitchen so many times,” she recalls.
This is the fifth house that Rhodes has designed for Kelley, so the pair have something of a mindmeld when it comes to design choices. “I know her level of expertise and her taste is impeccable, so I feel comfortable enough for her to just pick everything, and I know it will be amazing,” says Kelley. “At this point, anything she suggests, nothing is too crazy. She can be as creative as she wants to be.”
The jumping off point was a bold green marble Rhodes suggested for the kitchen, which pulled from the color of the wallcovering in an adjacent room. But once the creative juices started flowing, there was no holding back. “It went from the house that needed nothing to another big project: We touched every room,” laughs Kelley.
Rhodes threaded a 1970s rock-and-roll vibe throughout the house, and it starts as soon as you walk through the front door, with a vintage sputnik-esque brass and smoked glass light fixture. “Our house is pretty traditional on the exterior, and it’s on a pretty traditional street,” explains Kelley, “so coming in and having that interesting ’70s pop set the tone for the whole house.”
But the highlight of the entry is a painting by the Bahamian artist Amos Ferguson that hangs over a waterfall console table. It depicts a couple walking out of a pink church, arms around each other’s waists, a small group waiting to greet them. It’s a scene familiar to the Kelleys: The subject is St. John’s Anglican Church in Harbour Island, the oldest religious foundation in the Bahamas and where the Kelleys got married.
“Charles gave it to me for our 10th wedding anniversary, and Lindsay helped him pick it out,” says Kelley.
Just off the foyer is a room wrapped in aquamarine Schumacher Chinois Palais fabric. It had been the previous owner’s dining room, but Kelley turned it into what she calls the Ladies Lounge — a jewel box of a space to gather with the women in her life.
“When I’m having friends over, whether we’re in our sweats or it’s a cocktail party, I like for us to be able to sit in an inspiring space,” explains Kelley. “You can have a cup of coffee in there or a glass of champagne and it feels celebratory.”
Sedate this space is not. Every piece (nearly all of which are vintage) adds personality to the party. There’s a swooping velvet peach chaise, glossy brass geodesic tables, a pair of Zebra-printed arm chairs, a gold and green fringed pendant light, travertine end tables topped with metallic table lamps, and Rhodes’s favorite piece in the whole house: an antique mustard daybed purchased from Texas designer Kay O’Toole.
“She’s my design crush,” gushes Rhodes. “She’s just a quirky, loving soul.” The piece is topped with bolsters Rhodes made out of silk Gucci scarves.
On the walls hangs art by female makers: a painting from New Orleans-based artist Ashley Longshore’s Garden Club series and a custom neon piece from Brite Lite New Neon that reads “She is Worth Far More Than Rubies.”
Through a butler’s pantry, the lounge connects to a show-stopping bar, with countertops made of the green marble that started the whole project. The walls, ceiling, and cabinets are painted a pistachio hue that pulls from the stone and finished in a super shiny lacquer.
The contractor, when the room was complete, told Kelley the room looked like an ice cream parlor, a comment she graciously took as a compliment. Rhodes laughs at the story and adds, “Mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream.”
Striped black-and-white marble floors add drama, and brass accents, including the switch plates, keep the glam ‘70s style. A 200-year-old marble sink from France that Rhodes found at Chateau Domingue in Houston proved to be one of the more challenging elements of the whole project. “It wouldn’t drain,” says Kelley, noting that the fixture looks like it was hand-sculpted. “The water just pooled everywhere. We had to rework it three times to make it even on the bottom.”
Given that the kitchen was the impetus for the whole project, this is where the heavy lifting occurred. Rhodes took down a wall that separated the space from the bar, so they now flow together, which also allowed them to move the peninsula over to make the kitchen larger.
“I really like to cook and entertain, and I needed to be able to have an in-kitchen dining area,” explains Kelley. And she got everything she wanted, as the kitchen is her favorite room in the house.
“Every time you’re in there, it’s just a happy space,” she says, adding that her 4-year-old son now loves to cook with her. The good vibes are literally built into the house: “When we renovated, we wrote prayers and messages of hopes and dreams in the walls that we wanted to come to life in our house,” says Kelley.
Kelley loves a large dining room, so she turned what was previously the living room into this space. She knew that her custom table would be the centerpiece, but beyond that, they couldn’t get the design quite right.
After three failed concepts, Rhodes came to Kelley with a photo of a Gucci outfit featuring a lot of mixed textures and patterns. “And that was the inspiration for the dining room,” says Kelley.
The first step was to repaint and finish the table in a high gloss, cool mint shade similar to the bar room. Then they turned the walls into works of art with a “fabulous Gucci wallpaper,” and painted a sash-like stripe on the ceiling. A ruby-hued silk velvet trim lines the stripe while a baby blue version lines the woodwork. “We just made it look like that outfit,” Kelley says.
“I like to have a big, crazy, fun dining room because when you are eating there, it’s a celebration,” explains Kelley.
Two steps down from the kitchen a converted Florida room is now Kelley’s husband’s music room, with a record player and his guitars. Grammys line the mantle, and a table behind the sofa holds a sea of other awards and memorabilia from his music career.
A signed photo of Stevie Nicks has pride of place over the fireplace. Lady A collaborated with the iconic singer-songwriter in 2013, and the Kelleys purchased this photo for her to autograph. “She said that it was one of her favorite photos that had ever been taken of her,” recalls Kelley. “It’s one of our most special pieces in our house.”
The room has also become the preferred hangout of their son, and Kelley admits, “It’s become our coziest place to hang out and watch tv.” A Danish mid-century modern chandelier, vintage leather chairs, a sink-into-me sofa, and a custom ottoman upholstered in a long-haired jacquard fabric from Pierre Frey add to the comfy feeling.
The goal for the bedroom was to make it feel “like a warm blanket,” says Kelley. In lieu of overhead lighting, sconces by Aerin for Circa Lighting add a soft glow. A deep indigo wallpaper from Rule of Three wraps the walls, darkening the space and bringing in the luxe marble element seen throughout the house.
“Wallpaper just makes such a big impact,” says Rhodes. “The room is really big, so you could buy a lot of art, but the wallcovering makes it so cozy, yet still cool and edgy.”
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