Serendipity, luck, divine intervention—however you’d define the force that brought Nashville designer Lindsay Rhodes and recent Music City transplant Melanie Tigrett together, their relationship feels like more than just coincidence. The two first crossed paths when their children, both kindergartners, became friends at school. Melanie, her husband, Kerr, and their brood had just moved from Memphis and were renting until they found their forever home.
Following a playdate at the Tigrett’s former residence, Rhodes sensed Melanie was someone who clicked with her aesthetically. “A lot of Nashville is more traditional, so I could just tell by their art and some of their furniture—plus her personality is just really fun—that this was someone I would connect with in that creative way.” So, when the designer and a couple of her other clients were co-hosting an in-home show for Louisiana-based artist Ashley Longshore, Rhodes knew Melanie would “get it,” and extended an invitation.
She was right; in fact, Melanie was already in the market for a Longshore piece, though she found herself more enamored with the residence itself, which Rhodes had designed with pops of color, edgy patterns and personality galore. “I told Lindsay, ‘I feel like I heard a Lionel Richie song when I first walked into that house.’ Like a Disney movie with the stars flying around,” Melanie recounts. “I was going crazy about the house because she had designed it. I knew at that moment, ‘This is my designer. This is it.’ ”
But before Rhodes could design the couple’s home, they needed to find the right one, first—a task that proved challenging for a duo who loves to entertain but also has three children ranging in age from toddler to teenager. “Being hands-on parents is their most important concern,” the designer explains. “So, they wanted a house that would inspire creativity for their kids as well as themselves; a calm place to rejuvenate, refuel and stimulate.”
A Georgian-influenced abode in West Meade—designed by E+H Architects in 2004—proved full of potential. “We thought the kitchen was too small and dark, which would not work for someone like me who loves to cook and have friends and family over in the kitchen,” Melanie explains. So, Rhodes swooped in with the perfect solution: to knock out a wall and capture existing garage space for a generous new custom kitchen.
Happily, general contractor Chris Rhodes was able to tackle this huge structural change with ease, particularly because his company had renovated this very residence in 2012. “He’s really efficient and a really nice guy,” the designer notes. “He made our exact plans happen.” In the general contractor’s hands, one of the floor plan’s least appealing features became a calming, airy cooking and gathering space that Melanie now calls “the heartbeat of our home.”
With the white, bright kitchen as the nucleus, the rest of the rooms fell into place somewhat naturally, lending opportunities to display souvenirs, art and artifacts that speak to the owners’ personalities. “We wanted to honor the traditional architecture while incorporating pieces we’ve collected over time, but with a contemporary edge: Lindsay’s fun pop,” Melanie elaborates. In the study, for example, the designer lined the room with personal mementos that pay homage to Kerr’s father (founder of famed toy manufacturer Tigrett Industries): a framed prototype for the Drinking Bird, a patent for the mesh playpen, a sketch of B.B. King by artist and family friend LeRoy Neiman and more.
“Moving from a blues music town to a country music town just continued our love of music,” Melanie adds, noting how Rhodes responded to this passion by punctuating the residence’s warm, organic textures with favorite music-themed artworks from the Tigrett’s collection. In particular, two stylized portraits of Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix by American speed painter Denny Dent bring dynamic energy to the living room while making a lively tribute to the couple’s Memphis roots. Adds Melanie: “We appreciate all forms of art—whether written, sung, drawn or sewn together.”
To reintroduce age and patina to the fresh renovation, Rhodes mounted a collection of tapestry-like 19th-century leather cornice boards from India—acquired by Kerr’s mother in the 1980s—in the home’s entryway. Here and elsewhere in the home, the designer mixed moments of boldness and modernity masterfully—not unlike a skillfully composed song.
“Lindsay is uninhibited when it comes to design,” sums Melanie, emphasizing the connection she and the designer share. “She might be one of the most creative humans I have ever met. I told her, ‘I just wish I could live in your head one day.’ ” Perhaps living inside one of her designs is the next best thing.