Author Archives: Ellen Barnes

Get That Look: A New Sylvan Park Residence with Old Soul

Last week, our Story of a Home post about the Sylvan Park home we designed with our friend Shelby Brown told the tale of how this dream home came to life. This week, we’re delving into the particulars–the paint colors (inside and out), lighting fixtures, tile and more. Read on.

For the exterior, we selected Sherwin Williams’ Gauntlet Gray. It’s a perennial crowd-pleaser.

Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray exterior

  1. Roofing: Timberline Weathered Wood
  2. Exterior paint color: Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray (SW 7019)
  3. Exterior trim color: Sherwin Williams Extra White (SW 7006)
  4. Front door color: Benjamin Moore Bermuda Turquoise (728)
  5. Exterior doors: Sherwin Williams Black Fox (SW 7020)
  6. Exterior light fixture: Walker 2-Light Wall Lantern from D. Luxe Home store in Nashville, TN

Most of the interior walls were painted in Sherwin Williams’ Mindful Gray. All of the tile is from Renaissance Tile & Bath, where our client is a design consultant.

Bynum Design concept board

  1. Interior trim, ceilings and doors: Sherwin Williams Extra White (SW 7006)
  2. Walls: Sherwin Williams Mindful Grey (SW 7016) (Note exceptions: master bath is Sherwin Williams Gray Screen and master bedroom is Sherwin Williams Argos)
  3. Tile: from Renaissance Tile & Bath in Nashville, TN
  4. Tile: from Renaissance Tile & Bath in Nashville, TN
  5. Tile: from Renaissance Tile & Bath in Nashville, TN
  6. Dining room lighting: Rectangular Woven Metal Basket Pendant from D. Luxe Home store in Nashville, TN
  7. Kitchen lighting: Hudson Mini Pendant from D. Luxe Home store in Nashville, TN
  8. Tile: from Renaissance Tile & Bath in Nashville, TN
  9. Navy guest bedroom: Sherwin Williams Naval (SW 6244)
  10. Dutch door: Sherwin Williams Greenbelt (SW 6927)

Didn’t catch the original blog post? Find it and lots more photos here

The Story of a Home: A New Sylvan Park Residence with Old Soul

Sylvan Park exterior Bynum Design Nashville

When partnering with Renaissance Tile & Bath design consultant Shelby Brown on her personal residence, we used salvaged treasures and rustic lighting to create a new house with all the warmth of a historic home.

The Process: A few years ago, my friend Shelby approached me about designing a new home for her and her husband. Shelby works at Nashville’s Renaissance Tile & Bath, where we have long sourced all of the tile for Bynum Design projects. I adore her and was eager to build in Sylvan Park–this would be my first house in the neighborhood–but I hadn’t partnered with another designer in a long while.

I primarily build spec houses, but it’s different working closely with a client. Since building this house, I’ve discovered that when I’m the client, as I am when designing spec houses, I make myself (even) crazier. The process of working with Shelby was more relaxing and rewarding, as she gave a rustic, artisanal edge to my polished modern style. And in an age where everything from Domino to HGTV to Pinterest have given people interior design savvy, it was high time for me to collaborate with a client. I was fortunate that this particular client had a keen eye for design and a perspective that both complemented and challenged my own.

Gauntlet Gray exterior

“I didn’t want any wasted space—like how people do large foyers, but then are never in that area,” says Shelby. “With our lot being so small, like most of them in Nashville, I didn’t have any room to waste, so I wanted every area to be as functional as possible.” The way we design–using 3D software–allowed Shelby to maneuver through the house before it was built so there weren’t any surprises.

Read on to hear the story of how this 2,267-square-foot home came to life, quite literally rising to meet unique challenges (i.e., an extra-tall husband).

What Stands Out:

Old spindles repurposed

Patina from the Past. “I didn’t want it to feel like it was a brand new house,” says Shelby. “I wanted it to have character and to bring in some old elements.” Luckily, we were able to accomplish that by paying homage to the 800-square-foot house that once stood on this lot. Knowing that kids were in their future, the Browns needed a bigger house than that. The original house, built in the 1940s, offered no aesthetic value and contained little worthy of salvaging, but Shelby did make it a point to save the hardwood flooring.

As she tells it, “The only thing that looked nice was the hardwood floors, so the week before the house was torn down my parents came up, and we pulled them up. Another weekend, they came up again, and we planed each board. Dee and I came up with the idea of using some of these old floorboards above the dining room table. It’s a piece of our old house in the new house, and it ended up being my favorite detail. It brings personality to the cleanness of everything else. I love telling people the story of these boards.”

Repurposed spindles

Shelby’s other favorite detail? The old spindles she repurposed above the doorway that leads from the living room to the dining room. “My original plan was to do transom windows there, but I couldn’t really find what I was looking for,” says Shelby. “I came across these spindles, and I thought they were perfect to give a little bit of warmth.”

To add still more character, Shelby sketched, and then asked her father-in-law to build, the kitchen island and topped it with a stunning piece of Calcutta marble, a foil against the granite-composite sink and the rest of the countertops, which are a leathered black granite.

Repurposed hardwoods in ceiling

Splashy Paint Colors. Shelby added color to our design and our lives by spiking our neutral color palette (get all the paint color details in our next blog post!) with a turquoise front door, a kelly green Dutch door (I call it a Doris Day door) and inky navy on the guest room walls.

Benjamin Moore Bermuda Turquoise

Sherwin Williams Greenbelt

Sherwin Williams Naval

The Dog Room. Speaking of that green Dutch door, it leads to an ingenious space that the homeowners have dubbed “the dog room.” “We have two dogs, and I don’t enjoy sweeping up their dog hair every day,” says Shelby, “but I didn’t want them to be excluded from the house. The Dutch door allows us to see them, and they can see us and hear us, but I don’t have to sweep up their hair. Plus, there’s a doggie door that goes outside from that room, so they get to come and go as they please.”

The 6’7″ Husband. When Shelby and her husband initially selected Sylvan Park to live in, they envisioned renovating an existing house. Her husband’s height soon proved to be a barrier to that. Standing tall at 6’7″, he found himself having to duck through every doorway of the homes he toured–and throughout many of the upstairs rooms, too. Needless to say, it was important for us to give the Brown family 10-foot ceilings with eight-foot doorways, as we did downstairs. Upstairs we ensured they had nine-foot ceilings with eight-foot doorways. Our challenge here was to keep the house from towering so high that it overpowered the houses around it.

Luxe Tile and Plumbing Fixtures on a Budget. When you work at a tile shop, the world is your oyster, right? Not necessarily. Shelby cites the abundance of options as having been her biggest challenge (when these photos were taken, she was still weighing options for her backsplash tile, and has since installed a handmade, elongated subway-style tile). “Budget definitely comes into play because you have to decide what you’re willing to spend the money on and where you need to save it,” she says.

“We love this house and our location–you can’t beat Sylvan Park,” says Shelby, who has now been in this Bynum Design house for nearly four years. “We’ve had two kids since we moved in, and they love to go outside and play.”

Gauntlet Gray Exterior

To get the specifics on everything from paint colors to lighting to tile selection, check back in with our blog next week!

Bynum Design Goes to South Africa!

A few months ago I visited South Africa, which I can truly say was life-changing—and not just because I lost my wallet in the gift shop at the airport while buying design magazines. I have a few words on the subject, but mostly I have lots and lots of photos to share.

South Africa

Lion in Africa


Bynum Design South Africa

South Africa

Elephant in South Africa


Our travels took us to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and a few other, smaller cities. As a designer, and a human, I’m really lucky that I get to travel as much as I do and to spend so much time in hotels as I do because you come across some of the most incredible design in hotels and get to fake-live in these beautiful environments. Some of the hotels we stayed in in Africa were just magnificent. And almost everywhere we went, there were all these things that harkened back to the English and to Dutch colonialism; so the architecture kind of looked like Rosemary Beach everywhere—except it was real.

South Africa architecture

Child in South Africa

Lilypads in South Africa


There were houses that were these bright pinks that fit right in there, which goes against my rule about light and color and distance from the equator. (South Africa is opposite the equator, and I ordinarily tell people that the closer a place is to the equator the brighter the light is, which is why you see all those colorful exteriors in the Caribbean that look fantastic. In Nashville, if you try to do a bright, beachy exterior, it most of the time looks really tragic because the light’s not right.)

pink house in South Africa

Lion in Africa

On the other hand, I also didn’t expect to see so much wonderful, wonderful modern architecture in Africa, especially in Cape Town. It was kind of shocking. You have an impression of what some place is going to be, and then when you get there it’s never what you thought. Thankfully.

Mud hut South Africa 2

I thought Africa was going to be mud huts, and we did see some of that, too. We went to this one village, and it was sort of a tourist village. (You know that’s where they take everybody.) But their huts really were made of mud and straw, and it was so amazing to see that up close and to see how effective these houses are. It’s hard to imagine that people live like that, but they don’t know what they don’t have, and they’re probably much happier than we are. One of the huts we saw had an entertainment center and a gigantic TV, and there was a curtain that separated it from the bedroom and it was like, Where am I?! I guess he was the chief of the village or something. I didn’t see any satellite dishes anywhere; I don’t know how he got this TV. Maybe he just got a TV somewhere and propped it up on his entertainment center? I don’t know.

Mud Hut in South Africa

Mud hut South Africa

My one disappointment about Africa is that I wish we’d gone to somewhere more authentic. I wanted to see topless women. I wanted National Geographic. I wanted real and raw. Lip plates and neck rings. But I guess that’s in a different part of Africa, and you probably take your life in your own hands going to those places.

I want to close this post in Johannesburg, where we stayed at a place called Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa. This was full-on glam. It was sort of new, but it looked very old. It wasn’t the architecture that inspired me really, but how they put furniture together. They had all these wonderful, dark-wood African antiques next to these Lucite cube tables. The way they married these styles was really sophisticated. I’ve seen all that stuff married together before, but the way they did it and in this totally white room with all this dark furniture and so much detail, it just did it to me in a way that I’ve never experienced before. Even the duvet cover mesmerized me, and in the dining room the tablecloth was this texture I’d never seen in fabric before. It was the most gorgeous thing, and it was just a simple little subtle detail.

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel Africa

Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

The thing that got me about South Africa was in my head. It wasn’t like I saw a field of grass and decided to go green or anything like that. It was more of a real, emotional response to just being there. It was overwhelming. I don’t know if it was because I was in a part of the world I’d never been before or if it was because of what I was seeing or the people I was meeting. Their accent was amazing, and they were so warm. I can’t explain it; I hope my pictures help.

Boat in South Africa

Rainbow in South Africa


Stay tuned for a post about our trip to Italy, too!