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Nashville Home Filled with Harmonious Hues

Vibrant teals and palest pinks play happily together in a sun-drenched Nashville home

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    In their previous homes, Torry and Mary Leyden Johnson were fearless with color. “Especially in the ’80s,” Mary Leyden says. “We used a lot more vibrant colors. We had a bright green room and a periwinkle room.”

    When the empty nesters built a new Nashville home, however, they were ready to leave the ’80s far behind, and tapped Carolyn Kendall for color and design expertise. The Nashville designer artfully balanced the bold and the bashful, warming spaces with neutral hues, including soft teals and pretty pinks, and well-measured doses of cranberry and turquoise. “They like bright colors, but they wanted to mix in some soft hues to give their new home a more updated, current look,” the designer says.

    Architect Ron Farris set the stage, designing a neoclassical, washed-brick home with three porches, triple-window bays, gables, and elliptical arches repeated inside and out. “The Johnsons didn’t want the house to evoke a grandness but more a simple sophistication,” Farris says. “It was about having an approachable house that would embrace family and friends.”

    Photography: Emily Jenkins Followill
    Produced by Lisa Mowry

    Architect: Ron Farris, Farris Concepts in Architecture, 3828 Bedford Ave., Nashville, TN 37215; 615/383-0442,
    Interior designers: Carolyn Kendall with Betsy Trabue, Alcott Interiors, 2003 Blair Blvd., Nashville, TN 37212; 615/385-2873,
    Contractor: Bryan & Meyers Inc., 4012 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 10, Nashville, TN 37215; 615/760-5157.
    Landscape architect: Anne Daigh, Anne Daigh Landscape Architect, 1203 Paris Ave., Suite 104, Nashville, TN 37212; 615/454-4100,

    Windows: Marvin Windows & Doors,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Cheerful Impression

    The gentle arches on the home’s two side porches are repeated in the interiors with millwork that gracefully delineates the great room from the kitchen. French doors and large windows, including one that spans both the first and second levels (the kitchen on the first level and Torry’s office on the second), ensure the house is filled with sun.

    The foyer offers views into the great room, where a bay window overlooks the screen porch and backyard beyond. “I love being able to see from the front door through to the backyard,” Mary Leyden says. Kendall launched the color story in the foyer with a vintage French chair painted bright turquoise and a round table skirted in turquoise and green fabrics.

    A curving stair carpeted with Stark’s “Embroidery” in sky blue draws the eye upward. The painted vintage chair and turquoise table skirt trimmed with green establish the home’s upbeat palette. 

    Wall paint (“Kilim Beige” #SW 6106, 75 per cent); trim paint (“Creamy” #SW 7012): Sherwin-Williams,
    Tablecloth (“Veneto”/Dark Turquoise on Tinted Linen): Quadrille,
    Tablecloth trim (“Herbert”/colorway discontinued):
    Lamp on table (antique); chair (Chinese Chippendale): Alcott Interiors,
    Art on table: by Elizabeth Brandon,
    Chair-seat fabric (“Diablo”/Turquoise, by Boussac, discontinued): Pierre Frey,
    Pillow on chair (“Carousel”/Green Turquoise #030022T): Quadrille,
    Carpet on stairs (“Embroidery”/Sky Blue): Stark,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Great Room

    The two-story house is centered on a 38x20-foot great room with an arched fireplace niche at one end. Farris trimmed out the niche with paneled walls that echo the exterior architectural details on the bay windows. Then Kendall stepped in and upholstered the fireplace surround wall with a nubby basket-weave fabric studded with nailheads that mimic the pattern of the room’s recessed paneling. Nailheads encircle a mirror above the fireplace. Coffered ceilings in the room are finished with butt-joined board insets painted a soft blue. Ceilings throughout the main level are 10 1/2 feet, slightly higher than typical homes, which adds to the room’s comfortable, spacious feel, the architect says.

    The “Torino” chandelier above the center table is from Niermann Weeks.  

    Wallcovering (“Terrain”/Putty #T1006/03): Weitzner,
    Trim paint (“Creamy” #7012): Sherwin-Williams,
    Sofa (#540): Travis & Co.,
    Sofa fabric (“Newport”/Ivory #11137-01): Cowtan & Tout,
    Sofa trim (“Litchfield Braid”): Schumacher,
    Sofa pillows at end (“Labyrinth”/Pale Blue #34129-7): Clarence House,
    Pillow trim (“1/4 inch Lancaster Cord with Tape” #981-39813): Samuel & Sons,
    Sofa pillows, center (“Vittoria”/Light Blue #34691): Clarence House,
    Pillow trim (“Plaza”/Tan, corded trim): Houlès,
    Pair of chairs opposite sofa by mantel (#105, Travis Upholstery): Travis & Co.,
    Chair fabric (“Memory”/Blue #1010347584): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Coffee tabledemilunes; lamps (antique);
     round table beside sofa (antique); mirror over fireplace: Alcott Interiors,
    Mantel: custom.
    Fabric on fireplace wall (“Terrain”/Putty #T1006/03): Weitzner,
    Nailhead trim: D’Kei,
    Andirons (“Burton Andirons”); fire basket (“Baird Fire Basket for Dogs”): Chesney’s,
    Area rug (custom): Stark,
    Drapery (“Carrera”/Sky #320819): Zoffany,
    Drapery banding (“Bistro”): Norbar,
    Window shade (“Victoria”): Kravet,
    Shade trim (“1-inch Lancaster Ribbed Border”): Samuel & Sons,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Quiet Kitchen

    Soft blues and creams dominate the palette in the great room and adjoining kitchen. Cream-color perimeter kitchen cabinets with recessed door panels and flush-inset construction complement the home’s traditional millwork, and the furniture styling makes the kitchen feel like part of the great room. 

    Wall paint (“Kilim Beige” #SW 6106, 75 per cent); island paint (“Quietude” #SW 6212); cabinetry, trim and ceiling paint (“Creamy” #SW7012): Sherwin-Williams,
    Cabinetry (custom): Hartert-Russell,
    Cabinetry hardware: Alno Inc.,
    Flooring: 5-inch quartersawn oak.
    Island countertop (pewter): Francois & Co.,
    Island sink: Elkay,
    Island faucet (#U.4741, by Perrin & Rowe): Rohl,
    Counter stool (“Marit Counter Stool” #9511-03): Hickory Chair,
    Counter-stool fabric (“Coronado,” discontinued): Cowtan & Tout,
    Hanging lanterns (“Zurich Lantern”): Vaughan,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Kitchen Details

    A 10x4 1/2-foot blue-painted center island is topped with pewter from François & Co. with a beaded edge. Bar stools are from Hickory Chair tuck.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Breakfast Bay

    Cheery pink and green fabrics brighten the dining spot near the kitchen with views to the porch. 

    Table:  owner’s collection.
    Side chairs (“Amsterdam Side Chair” #1552-02, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric, front (“Labyrinth,” by Travers): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Chair fabric, back (“Elkin”/Leaf #F3626-04, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Chandelier (“Le Chic Gold Chandelier, by Regina Andrew): Candelabra,
    Wall paint (“Kilim Beige” #SW 6106): Sherwin-Williams,
    Roman shade (“Cressida”/Red, Green #F3919-02, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Trim (“Tyrone” #4366): Pindler & Pindler,
    Drapery (“Indra Check” #2006146): Lee Jofa,
    Drapery tie-back (“Martinique Round Beaded Holdback” #972-45443): Samuel & Sons,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Sitting Area

    Just off the kitchen, a sitting area and bar provide space for guests to congregate.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Dining Room

    The dining room takes on special status with salmon-color draperies, a cranberry-and-pink Oriental rug, and a champagne paper-back fabric wallcovering with a subtle eyelash texture. Tracery detailing adorns the ceiling and gives the room a sense of importance.

    Wallcovering (“Nuance”/Taupe #WNU64/02): Weitzner,
    Ceiling and trim paint (“Creamy” #SW 7012): Sherwin-Williams,
    Ceiling medallion (#27002): Decorators Supply Corp.,
    Drapery (“Chirk Embroidery”/Salmon #2008141.17): Lee Jofa,
    Drapery trim (“Patterson”/Ecru #0212701): Fabricut,
    Area rug (Modern Tabriz): Jeff’s Fine Rugs & Tapestries, 615/593-0223.
    Dining table; shield-back chairs; armchairs; table between armchairs: owner’s collection.
    Dining-chair fabric (“Melbourne” #1804): Jane Shelton,
    Armchair fabric (“Margi”/Flame #MG-1010-178): Elizabeth Hamilton,
    Chair trim (“Collobrieres-Croisé”): Pierre Frey,
    Chandelier: Alcott Interiors,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Dining Room

    “The wallcovering has a bit of a fringed line so it has some dimension that is fabulous,” she says. “We like to do upholstered walls and niches, and sometimes even ceilings. They add wonderful texture and are great for acoustics.”

    Above the sideboard, gorgeous candle sconces frame artwork by Amanda Norman.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Home Office

    One of Mary Leyden’s favorite features is the pair of French antique mirrored doors for her office. The antique mirror-and-wood doors that the designer found in France were repurposed as sliding barn-style doors.

    Wallcovering (“Vertical Strie” #VS-5): Kneedler/Fauchere,
    Drapery (“Fontaine,” by Travers): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Area rug (“Dotted Linx,” by J.D. Staron): Brunschwig & Fils,
    Ottoman (“Auburn Large Stool” #1514-29, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Ottoman fabric (“Oman GW”/Coral #VW-0002-F015, by Grey Watkins): Stark,
    Chairs (“Glendale” #S827-00): Charles Stewart Co.,
    Chair fabric (“Bargello”/Coral #4606-2): Jane Shelton,
    Chair pillows (“Livingstone” #F1406, by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Pillow trim (“Annecy Cord with Tape” #981-31058): Samuel & Sons,
    Inlay drum table: Alcott Interiors,  

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Home Office

    To ensure the doors look as attractive from inside the room as out, Kendall upholstered them with fabric. “I sit in my office every day. It’s so bright and cheery there,” Mary Leyden says. “This is a very happy house.”

  • Emily Jenkins Followill


    In the upstairs study, colors are more subdued. “In the main circulation and entertaining spaces, we used vibrant colors," Kendall says." Then we transitioned to softer hues in the library and master bedroom." 

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Sweet Space

    Sweet pink accents punctuate the master bedroom. Draperies, pillow shams, and the bench at the foot of the bed are dressed with “Theodore” fabric by Travers from Zimmer + Rohde.  

    Wall paint (“Pearl Gray” #SW 0052): Sherwin-Williams,
    Area rug (Westwood): Stark,
    Chandelier; lamp; artchest between lounge chairs: antique, from Alcott Interiors,
    Drapery, Euro sham, and bench fabric (“Theodore” #1040077665, by Travers): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Drapery trim (“Jefferson” #8946): Pindler & Pindler,
    Bed (“Simone Upholstered Bed” #1667-11, by Suzanne Kasler): Hickory Chair,
    Bed upholstery (“Flaubert and Bovary Chenille”) by Nina Campbell): Osborne & Little,
    King shams and blanket cover (with “Grace Appliqué” and “Frances Embroidered Monogram”): Leontine Linens,
    Bolster pillow (“Lido-Linen”/Pink, Rose #LD21): Peter Fasano,
    Bench (“Louis XVI 6-Leg Bench #BCH7802): Louis J. Solomon,
    Nightstand: Alcott Interiors,
    Lounge chairs (“Holly Swivel Chair” #7630-27, by Mariette  Himes Gomez): Hickory Chair,
    Chair fabric (“Bennett,” by Colefax and Fowler): Cowtan & Tout,
    Pillow (“Fleur de Campagne”/Soft Rose #5626-03, by Rose Cumming): Dessin Fournir,
    Ottoman (“Dana Round Ottoman” #BD226-0): Tomlinson,
    Ottoman fabric (“Laudered Linen”): Peter Fasano,

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Bedroom Details

    A pink “Dana” ottoman from Tomlinson is studded with nailheads in a floral design.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Master Bath

    Mary Leyden’s vanity table was built into a niche with a north-facing window, providing soft light for applying makeup and grooming. 

    Wall paint (“Spun Sugar” #SW 6337, 75 per cent); trim paint (“Creamy” #SW 7012): Sherwin-Williams,
    Cabinetry (custom): Hartert-Russell,
    Cabinetry hardware: Alno Inc.,
    Window treatment (“Jefferson” #8946): Pindler & Pindler,
    Wall sconces (“Sudbury Oval Wall Light”/Nickel #WA0214.NI): Vaughan,
    Mirror on vanity (“Theresa Triptych Mirror” #THE-950-79): Bungalow 5,
    Chair (“Richmond Vanity” #S192-00): Charles Stewart,
    Chair fabric (“Southpointe”/Persimmon, by Travers): Zimmer + Rohde,
    Flooring: Calacatta marble, honed.   

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Guest Room

    Blue plays with green in the guest room. Behind the beds, an upholstered wall repeats the patterns of the bed skirts and pillow shams.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Back Porch

    Homeowners Torry and Mary Leyden Johnson on their back porch.

    Sofa (“Halifax Three-Seater Sofa” #516);  lounge chair (“Halifax Swivel Rocker Lounge Chair” #513): Gloster,
    Patterned pillow on sofa (“Carnival Outdoor”): Christopher Farr/Cloth,
    Coffee table: owner’s collection.
    Garden stool  (“Indian Rings Stool”/Cerulean #W6080): Wisteria,

  • Werner Straube