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New Riff for a Nashville Kitchen

Designer Chad James reenvisions the kitchen of a 1948 Music City home for Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney and his family

Written by Sally Finder Weepie / Photos by Caroline Allison

Life is a highway—and country star Joe Don Rooney’s led him to a new neighborhood in Nashville. Cozy and historic, it offered appealing amenities for the three newest members of the band—he and wife Tiffany Fallon’s young children: Jagger, Raquel, and Devon. 

“Joe Don and Tiffany had been living in a new house, but they grew up in older homes and wanted a home with old bones that we could modernize,” designer Chad James says. “We wanted to make it beautiful and family-friendly.”

In the kitchen, that meant rethinking what originally had been one very large open cooking and breakfast space. “It was too gargantuan,” James says. “People crave the intimacy and -coziness of smaller rooms that are comfortable not cavernous.”

To achieve that, James divided the sprawling space with a glass-and-steel partition that feels like a wall of windows and provides delineation without confinement. 

As cooking takes center stage on one side, lounging rules on the other. Including a soft sectional—the perfect spot for the kids to curl up with mom and dad and watch movies—is no surprise. Its eggplant hue, however, is—especially for James.

“Tiffany’s favorite color is purple,” he says. “When she told me that, I rolled my eyes. I had thought of purple as a juvenile color—Barney the dinosaur and Laffy Taffy. We laughed about it, and I thought about it. I realized that purple is also a color in great sunsets—I brought that gorgeous dark purple of a sunset inside.”

Fittingly, the first thing you see as you walk into the kitchen is a landscape by artist Scott E. Hill that features a vast expanse of sky. “It’s very ethereal,” James says, “and its size is a grand gesture that works with the scale of the wall system.”

The artwork rests on a metal ledge that spans the length of the work space. “I didn’t want upper cabinets on the window wall, but I did want some storage space there,” James says. “The floating ledge brings a sense of surprise, a question of How does it float over the windows? I like to include those design elements. But it’s also practical. I grew up in a house with open storage, and I love the idea of things being accessible. It makes life easier.”

Another surprise unfurls on the opposite wall. Instead of the expected island, James created counter space for the kids. “They love to pull up a stool, eat there, color, or just hang out,” the designer says. “It’s practical, and it’s a design element.”

Panache comes from antique steel corbels that hold the counter’s limestone slab. Like the ledge, they appear to float, amplifying the kitchen’s ethereal vibe.

The dreaminess cloaks plenty of function, including smart surfacing choices and pro-grade appliances, all thoughtfully placed in a comfortably sized envelope. 

“The kitchen was designed to be user-friendly,” James says. “It proves that a kitchen doesn’t have to be large to work well. If you appoint each item appropriately, you achieve success.”