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Light-Filled Nashville Home

A traditionally Southern house with a layer of Mediterranean style

Written and produced by Jenny Bradley
  • Reid Rolls

    Sometimes the stars just align.

    Living on 50 acres just outside of Nashville, Jeff and Lori Orr enjoyed the privacy their property offered but not the maintenance it involved. So when a country music singer approached the couple to buy their home, they realized that it might just be a sign that it was time to downsize.  

    The timing was perfect—their two older children had left for college (daughter Emily, 18, and son John, 15, still live at home), and the Orrs were in the market for a smaller home—but the time frame was tight.

    Enter aligning stars. “There was a house in Nashville that we had always admired,” recalls Lori. “To our surprise, the owners had relocated to New York, and the house was on the market.”

    A move to the 100-year-old Mediterranean-style home represented a 180-degree turn for the family. Light-filled—offering more windows and glass doors than wall space—it was a bright contrast to the Gothic-style house they’d just sold.

    While the change was welcome, it meant that much of the furniture that had worked so well in their previous house now felt out of place. Wanting to retain their family heirlooms and some large-scale pieces they’d collected over time, they called in Roger Higgins and Ann Shipp to help them create a home that would be a compilation of dark and light, old and new.

    “I try to instill a sense of accumulation in every home I work on,” says Higgins. “In this case, we were collecting the big pieces that create a strong base. The Orrs also wanted the interior to be inviting, so that guests and family could spend time lounging and conversing. It was really important for the entire house to be very comfortable and approachable.”

    To preserve that approachable ambience, Higgins incorporated unexpected touches throughout. For this house that meant mixing clean lines and contemporary elements with Mediterranean-inspired architecture and classic, comfortable furnishings.

    “The house has Mediterranean details while still maintaining a traditional Southern feel,” says Higgins. “I threw in classic items like the sisal rug—which I compare to a good pair of blue jeans because they look as good with a dress shirt as they do dressed-down with a simple T-shirt. Using elements like a casual rug in a more formal space can create a balanced, updated sensibility and also keep the area from becoming too stuffy.”

    With four children and three dogs, stuffy was definitely not an option. Casual, durable materials such as washed velvets and linens were de rigueur throughout the home, and texture was incorporated to hide wear and add visual interest. And while there was a self-imposed ban on silk upholstery, Higgins managed to sneak in a silk throw pillow or two for a bit of decadence.

    In the living room, arguably the most formal space in the house, a sisal rug takes center stage, tempering the room’s more formal furnishings, parquet floors, lush textures, and gilt details. Pattern is used minimally—the fine striation on the walls is barely noticeable—and the toned-down, Mediterranean-inspired palette is subtle and soothing.

    An antique Flemish tapestry hanging behind a sofa acts as a touchstone—highlighting the home’s color story in its neutrals, rich hunter greens, and delicate blues. An amalgamation of Lori’s favorite hues, it was the impetus for the home’s palette.

    “Roger has a keen ability to choose colors that complement his clients’ personal tastes,” says Lori. “We focused on creams, grays, blues, and sages—all of my favorites. Roger’s goal was for each room to have a relationship with the rest of the house, so you’ll find these colors throughout.”

    In the dining room, the existing gray-green upholstery on the walls added drama but seemed overly dark and heavy to Lori. To lighten up the space, Higgins upholstered the host and hostess chairs in a feminine embroidered fabric and used an ethereal sheer fabric at the windows. To increase the femininity factor, a lavabo hanging on the wall above the antique sideboard is home to orchids, magnolias, and other greens, depending on the season.

    The kitchen was the home’s one major overhaul. Located in the center of the house, the dark, skimpy area had only two small doorways. Craving a light-filled space in which family and friends could congregate, the Orrs hired architect Ron Farris to create an open space that encourages lingering over meals and allows a view of the family room, dining room, and pool.

    “Sun pours in from every direction,” says Lori. “The kitchen as a whole is the hub of our daily activity. The ample island is a necessity for a family of six, and we wear it out.”

    The kitchen is also home to an antique Jackson Press—a family heirloom that showcases a collection of glassware and McCarty pottery from Mississippi.

    In the adjoining family room, Higgins chose a leather daybed with a plush upholstered cushion to anchor the space. It’s ideally placed for television viewing and is the perfect spot for an afternoon nap, but the Orrs took some convincing. “I wasn’t sure if my family would find it comfortable,” says Lori. “But we all absolutely love it. It’s the best seat in the room!” Armchairs in graphite mohair and a tailored stripe offer additional seating.

    Prompted by a sketch brought home from a trip abroad, the master bedroom’s cream-and-gray scheme produces instant “ahhs.” Overlooking the manicured backyard and pool area, the spa-like space was built with restfulness in mind. Pattern and bold colors are kept to a minimum. Plush textures—chenille on the upholstered headboard and a Flokati rug—add visual interest but avoid being overly feminine.

    “We love living here,” says Lori. “It is a true refuge for us.” 

    Photography: Reid Rolls

    Interior designer: Roger Higgins and Ann Shipp, R. Higgins Interiors, 2000 Blair Blvd., Nashville, TN, 37212; 615/297-9632,

    Chest between chairs; mirror above chest; slip-covered chairs by window: owner’s collection. 
    Slipcover fabric (“Quincy”/Aqua #0649404): Stroheim, 800/763-0524,

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    Living Room

    “The tapestry is by far the most significant piece because it creates the color scheme for the entire house,” says Higgins. The sofa under the tapestry is from Lee Industries. The coffee table is from J. Douglas Design.

    Details on the following slides.

    Sofa (“Landau Devon Skirted Sofa” #3093-03, custom size); sofa fabric (“Laser”/Sage): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Pillows on sofa; lamp on end table: owner’s collection.
    End table; tapestry behind sofa: antique.
    Coffee table: J. Douglas Design, 214/522-8100,
    Fauteuil: owner’s collection.
    Striped fabric on fauteuil (“Ottoman Stripe/Florence #614-2): Libas Ltd., 800/635-4227,

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    Living Room Details

    Side chairs look elegant covered in “Quincy” from Stroheim.

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    Living Room

    Designer Roger Higgins incorporated large-scale seating wherever possible to encourage lingering rather than a formal “sit-up-straight” atmosphere. The seating by the fireplace is from Lee Industries.

    Strié paint finish on wall (“Magnetic Gray” #SW 7058 as base coat, with “Cityscape” #SW 7067 as top coat): Sherwin-Williams, 800/474-3794,
    Trim paint (“Newport Beige” #6897-1); ceiling paint (“Silver Sword” #507-3, Pittsburgh/Porter): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Area rug (“Siskiyou Sisal” #777): Fibreworks, 800/843-0063, Through Textures Flooring, 615/228-2922,
    Chairs by fireplace (“Chair-and-a-Half” #3980-16); ottoman between chairs (“Cocktail Ottoman” #1623-00): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Chair fabric (#2702-61); ottoman fabric (#2862-88): Hickory Chair, 800/349-4579,
    Pillow on chair; gilded tables by chairs: owner’s collection.
    Mantel: original to house.
    Mantel paint (“Off White” #6896-1): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Crystal candelabra on mantel: owner’s collection.
    Mirror over mantel (custom, by Roger Higgins): R. Higgins Interiors, 615/297-9632,
    Piano; lamp on piano: owner’s collection. 
    Drapery: existing.
    Fauteuil: owner’s collection.
    Striped fabric on fauteuil (“Ottoman Stripe/Florence #614-2): Libas Ltd., 800/635-4227,
    Coffee table: J. Douglas Design, 214/522-8100,
    Slipcovered chair by window: owner’s collection.
    Slipcover fabric (“Quincy”/Aqua #0649404): Stroheim, 800/763-0524,

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    Living Room Details

    A crystal candelabra glitters from the mantel, which was original to the home.

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    The designer flanked the front door with draperies the previous owners had used in the dining room for an elegant yet durable touch to the entry.

    Wall covering; drapery; chandelier: existing.
    Ceiling and trim paint (“Off White” #6896-1): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Pedestal demilune; mirror over demilune (custom, from antique panels); lamp on demilune (flea-market find); area rug by door (flea-market find); bench by staircase: owner’s collection.
    Basket: Mainly Baskets, 877/702-5654,
    Flooring: existing.

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    Entry Details

    Antique carved limed-oak panels were used to create a custom trumeau-style mirror.

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    Dining Room

    Higgins swapped out the room’s dark draperies with a more feminine fabric from Robert Allen to lighten the woodwork and the upholstered walls.

    Details on the following slides.

    Upholstered walls: existing.
    Trim paint (“Deep Bronze” #7200-2): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Drapery (“Flatlands”/Parchment): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Area rug (“Siskiyou Sisal” #777): Fibreworks, 800/843-0063, Through Textures Flooring, 615/228-2922,
    Chandelier: antique.
    Dining table; host chairs; side chair; side-chair fabric (embossed leather): owner’s collection.
    Host-chair fabric (“Nehru”/Greystone): Robert Allen, 800/333-3777,
    Tall sideboard (antique); server; art; mirror: owner’s collection.

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    Dining Room Details

    The lavabo above the sideboard adds interesting detail and is often home to magnolias, orchids, and other seasonal flowers and greenery.

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    Dining Room Details

    “Using elements like a casual rug in a more formal space can create a balanced, updated feel,” says designer Roger Higgins.

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    Lori Orr on the family room daybed with Petey (a cockapoo), Biscuit (a golden retriever), and pup Lainey.

    Daybed (“Leather Twin Daybed” #L34-30); daybed leather (“Old Saddle Green Leather”): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Daybed seat cushion (#29139.11): Kravet, 888/457-2838,

  • Reid Rolls

    Family Room

    Jeff and Lori Orr found the painted cabinet above the fireplace at an antiques market and used it to cleverly conceal a television.

    Paint (“Lincoln Home Beige” #6898-2): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Daybed (“Leather Twin Daybed” #L34-30); daybed leather (“Old Saddle Green Leather”): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Daybed seat cushion (#29139.11): Kravet, 888/457-2838,
    Daybed pillows: owner’s collection.
    Wood shelf: antique.
    Blue chairs by window (“Webbed Back Chair” #1687-01); chair fabric (Mohair/Graphite): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Pillows on blue chairs (“La Marchese,” by Fonthill, discontinued): Stark Carpet, 212/752-9000,
    Pillow trim (“2-inch Brush Fringe”/Driftwood #7254-178): Duralee, 800/275-3872,
    Area rug: owner’s collection.
    Drapery (“Brittany”/Ivory #8732): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090,
    Tile flooring: original to house.
    Coffee table: flea-market find.
    Blue-and-white striped lounge chair (#1077-01): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Chair fabric (#3232-32): Hickory Chair, 800/349-4579,
    Limestone mantel: original to house.
    Cupboard above mantel: Eddy West, 404/581-0317.

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    Family Room Details

    “We love living here,” says Lori. “It’s a true refuge for us.”

  • Reid Rolls


    Architect Ron Farris worked with the Orrs to open up the small kitchen, allowing space for a light-filled breakfast room. Hand-painted tile on the backsplash and a stainless steel hood act as focal points, while the custom finish on the island continues the home’s palette.

    Cabinetry (custom); oven hood (custom, stainless steel): R. Higgins Interiors, 615/297-9632,
    Cabinetry finish (“Willow Twig” #6902-2); island cabinetry finish (“Glen Shadow” #7068-3, glazed): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Backsplash (hand-painted tile): Mission Stone & Tile, 615/244-6448,
    Countertops: ReVelle Surfaces, 877/812-5357,
    Hanging lights over island (“Aspen Iron Ceiling Light”/Blackened Rust, with natural paper shade #S5030BR-NP): Circa Lighting, 877/762-2323,
    Bar stools: Westside Foundry, 800/349-7442,

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    Breakfast Room

    Just off the kitchen is the inviting breakfast room, where tall custom cabinets display china and precious family heirlooms.

    Dining table and chairs: owner’s collection.
    Sconces: antique iron.
    Cabinet (custom); china cabinet (custom): R. Higgins Interiors, 615/297-9632,

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    Lori and Jeff had always admired the 100-year-old Mediterranean-style home, and the timing of their move made its purchase ideal.

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    One of the selling points of the Mediterranean-style home was its beautifully landscaped backyard. “We feel like we inherited a gem,” says Lori. “There is a stone walkway that takes you to a boxwood garden sheltered by four stunning Natchez crepe myrtles.”

    Details on the following slides.

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    Poolside Entertaining Area

    Built in beneath the house next to the pool lies a comfy poolside entertaining and relaxation area. “My family can be found either by the pool or by the outdoor fireplace almost any time of the year,” says Lori.

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    Pool Details

    Petey and Lainey lounge in the sunshine by the swimming pool.

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    Poolside Sitting Area

    A plush sofa covered in “Crawford” from Lee Industries looks inviting after a long swim in the pool. Durable fabrics on the furniture and a wicker chest are able to accommodate the family’s outdoor entertaining.

    Sofa (“Yaupon Outdoor Slipcovered Sofa” #US118-03); sofa fabric (“Crawford”/Bark): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Wicker chest: flea market find.
    Table by sofa; chair opposite sofa: Graham’s Lighting & Outdoor Living, 615/771-3400,
    Dining table and chairs: owner’s collection.

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    Poolside Sitting Area Details

    A small wood-topped cart acts as a serving table in the outdoor entertaining area.

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    Master Bedroom

    The sketch above the bed was the inspiration for the room’s soothing palette. The upholstered bed is from Lee Industries.

    Wall paint (“Off White” #6896-1): Porter Paints, 800/332-6270,
    Bed (#40-50); bed fabric (“Bergdorf”/Nickel); drapery behind bed (“Miller”/Spa): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Bed linens: Bella Linea, 866/280-4480,
    Bed linens: Restoration Hardware, 800/910-9836,
    Patterned pillow on bed: Callisto Home, 201/866-0122,
    Art over bed: owner’s collection.
    Chandelier: antique.
    Demilune; table lamp on demilune: owner’s collection.
    Art over demilune (antique cigar mold in custom frame: R. Higgins Interiors, 615/297-9632,
    Carpet: existing.
    Lounge chair (#3907-01); chair fabric (“Benjamin”/Cream): Lee Industries, 800/892-7150,
    Throw: Woven Workz, 508/788-1218,
    White throw rug: Flokati, 800/844-5345,

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    Master Bedroom

    Clean-lines in serene neutrals give the master bath a relaxing ambience. Sheer draperies from Pindler & Pindler keep the space light and bright; intricate tile work on the floors lend texture.

    Vanity: existing.
    Drapery (“Brittany”/Ivory #8732): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090,
    Flooring: existing.
    Chair: owner’s collection.

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