Tennessee and North Carolina have always offered fun, drivable getaways for Atlantans. For design enthusiasts, Nashville and High Point now offer new reasons to visit.
Nashville’s stylish vibe and celebrity boom have made Music City a new destination for interior design. Historic neighborhoods such as Belle Meade and newly revitalized areas like Germantown and Sevier Park are thriving. (We Atlantans feel your traffic pain—Nashvillians often say, “We do not want to be Atlanta.”)
What’s new | The city’s growing design scene prompted Matthew Quinn, principal at Atlanta’s Design Galleria Kitchen & Bath Studio, and Anne Puricelli, director of La Cornue and AGA North America, to launch the Nashville Design Collective, a center catering to both the trade and the public in a 45,000-square-foot space that once housed a mop factory. In addition to Design Galleria, familiar Atlanta names such as Circa Lighting, Peacock Alley, Renaissance Tile & Bath, and Kolo Collection are here, while other showrooms such as Christopher Peacock (kitchens and baths) and Robin Rains (interior design and international finds) aren’t found in Georgia.
More intel | Nashville interior designer Stephanie Sabbe, who has a passion for history and preservation, suggests visiting Patina + Co., run by two women who travel Europe to find a creative mix of antiques, and its neighbor, Woven Goods Co., which sells Turkish rugs (both open limited days). “These two shops are a place you want to go and just hang out in all day,” says Sabbe. She also likes OAK Nashville, a newer, small shop in an up-and-coming area on Charlotte Avenue, which specializes in a vintage, boho style. Perennial favorite GasLamp Antiques (two locations) offers aisles of dealers. The Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville was canceled this February due to Covid, but make plans now to attend next year’s big event.
Home base | New boutique hotels in downtown Nashville offer proximity to the music scene. (Two fun musical experiences are the Johnny Cash Museum and singer-songwriter concerts at the Listening Room Cafe.) Check out the Graduate Hotel, which embraces its location near Vanderbilt University and the birthplace of country music with college-town boho style.
The furniture capital of the world will always be known for its bustling, twice-a-year Market, when thousands of designers descend upon this small city to shop and see what’s new and exciting in the industry. (This year’s spring event was moved to June.) Those Market events—open only to trade professionals—are still going strong. But, recently, High Point has made moves toward becoming a year-round destination and opening some resources to the public.
What’s new | High Point x Design is a movement changing the paradigm of the city, driven by 60 showrooms that want to keep the energy alive 12 months a year—by opening to the trade and often to design enthusiasts one week a month and by appointment. “We’ve been inspired by other models, such as Eindhoven, a midsized city in the Netherlands,” says Tom Van Dessel, HPxD chairman and owner/president of Splashworks, a home-decor brand. The Dutch town has become a perpetual magnet for the technology and design industries. “High Point has developed into a year-round design hub with an energized creative culture.” Note that while some showrooms offer samples and insider bargains, others do not, so don’t go expecting deals. There’s lots of eye candy, though. Well-known showrooms such as Oly Studio, Red Egg, and Mr. Brown London are part of the consortium, as well as finds such as South + English, Mill Collective, and Cohab.Space.
More intel | Other ways to experience the city’s furniture culture include the 1.3 million square foot Furnitureland South campus (a megaretail experience claiming to be the “world’s largest furniture store”), outlets, and the Design Access program, which pairs shoppers with a professional designer who can help them find and navigate local resources. While in High Point, stay at Pandora’s Manor, a 116-year-old home which features rich woodwork, custom breakfasts, and bedrooms designed by top decorating talents such as Tobi Fairley, Madcap Cottage, Celerie Kemble, Thom Filicia, and Barclay Butera.
Field trip | With its lively arts and architecture scene, Winston-Salem is a fitting travel companion to the furniture-centric vibe of High Point. Consider staying there and driving the 20 minutes over to High Point for the day. Downtown’s Art Deco Kimpton Cardinal Hotel offers stylish quarters in a revitalized area featuring art galleries and local artisans. Don’t miss nearby Old Salem, a smaller and more charming version of Williamsburg, where you can stroll down 18th-century streets settled by the Moravians. A circa 1917 mansion once owned by the R.J. Reynolds family is now Reynolda House Museum of American Art, which has an impressive collection with works by artists like Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Outbuildings of the estate now make up Reynolda Village, a charming collection of shops and restaurants.
This article appears in our Summer 2021 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.