Apassionate advocate of bespoke furnishings, antiques, mixed motifs and thoughtfully displayed personal collections, Nashville designer Eric Ross‘ sumptuous spaces celebrate the central tenets of traditional Southern design–so much so that earlier this year he released a book on the subject, Enduring Southern Homes. “I met my wife, Ruthann, in Nashville, and while we lived in Franklin for several years, we witnessed the change,” Ross notes of the Nashville renaissance he’s watched over the course of two decades. “But when a city is reborn, I feel strongly that you need to embrace its beginnings. A building is baked in a language; someone created it to look and feel a certain way, and I think my job as a designer is to preserve that.” Here, Ross shares his Music City mainstays with Luxe.
The Hermitage Hotel: It’s a stalwart in a city undergoing a major change. Built in 1910, the hotel is Nashville’s oldest. It’s Beaux Arts and very old-school, with rich, quality materials; the whole facade is Indiana limestone and the lobby, which has lots of marble and wood, was designed the old-fashioned way so it’s away from the street. It was beautifully redone in 2003 in a way that’s not pretend. It’s authentic.
Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina: We go here for all-out glamour, great views and delicious food. It feels more like New York than Nashville. To get there, you have to take a special elevator to the 34th floor. I’ve been coming here for 25 years, and Nashville has never had a view that high. To sit at the bar or in the dining room and see the city from that perspective is special. The palette is creams and grays with dark walnut paneling–very Barbara Barry–and the wall-to-wall carpet makes for great acoustics.
5th & Taylor: I’m very down-to-earth–you could say I’m “very Nashville.” And this is a place I can go in blue jeans and a golf shirt. It’s not fancy, and everything on the menu feels familiar. They do fried chicken, sometimes they do apple pie, and I can’t figure out how they get the mashed potatoes so smooth and creamy without being a mess.
The Registry: In an old building on Main Street in downtown Franklin, this shop is owned by two ladies with the best eye. They’re very focused: dishes, table linens, flatware and high-end crystal. They carry Juliska glassware, Arte Italica tableware, sculptural Michael Aram serving pieces–a very curated mix.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center: We love the symphony. This beautiful building, which Martha Ingram basically commissioned, is really a treasure. Way before the renaissance of Nashville, she had the architect travel Europe looking at the great symphony halls and opera houses to create this jewel downtown. The influences are classical, but there are also Art Deco details like huge chandeliers and these stylized irises–the state flower of Tennessee–on the balconies and railings.