Tag Archives: story of a home

The Story of a Home: Bynum Design Does East Nashville

We know. We’re late to the party. Better late than never, this project represents Bynum Design’s baptism into East Nashville. As our first new construction on the east side, it gave us occasion to get to know this sweet neighborhood, lined with the old houses that inspire us and the diversity we remember feeling excited about in 12South a decade ago.

Bynum Design exterior Sharpe

The Process: We built these two houses—situated side by side and separated by a firewall—for Prime Nashville, a developer that specializes in contemporary real estate. They reached out to us because they said they wanted to step up their design a little bit; we were up to the task. These homes are mirror images and staggered, so one has a bigger front yard and the other a bigger backyard. Throughout this post we’ve interspersed photos of both of the homes, which are certainly similar but also special in their own ways.

Bynum Design Sharpe Avenue kitchen

What Stands Out:

Bynum Design Sharpe Ave kitchen Bynum Design Sharpe Ave Nashville kitchen

The Kitchens. We are known for our sleek and stunning kitchens—as are, really, most designers who are worth their salt—but these have especially garnered a lot of attention with their sky-high ceilings and a wall of windows. Normally you just get one window over the sink, so you can imagine that a quantity of windows like this proved expensive and caused our developer some pain. (Worth every penny.) The only thing I regret about these kitchens is that we didn’t put in even more windows. I wish they were behind the cabinets, too, so that they would have glass both in front of and behind the cabinets.

Coffered ceiling

The Ceilings. Budget constraints didn’t allow us to play with the ceilings as much as we would have liked to, but we were able to add beams upstairs and coffer a ceiling downstairs. Notice in the photo below that we also did a trio of skinny interior windows—another Bynum Design trademark.

Ceiling beams

Urban Outdoor Spaces: If you read our recent blog post on designing outdoor living spaces, you know we are just as into exteriors as we are interiors. Both of these houses have a “party deck” upstairs on the front of the house, and a deck and an outdoor patio on the back.

Bynum Design party deck Nashville Party Deck Bynum Design Sharpe Avenue Nashville TN

The Master Bedrooms: We were able to put double master bedrooms in each house—one upstairs and downstairs—and one of our favorite details is that the upstairs masters have coffee bars right off of them.

Bedroom coffee bar Bynum Design

Challenges Faced:

A Narrow Lot: These houses had to be narrow to fit onto a 50-foot wide lot, which meant they needed to be built side by side with a firewall separating them. We had to design around that reality but also needed to give these spaces pizzazz and personality as soon as you walked in the door.

Bynum Design Nashville arched doorway Bynum Design Nashville bathroom Sharpe

A Small Footprint: Our biggest challenge was to hit a small square footage number—we were alloted 1,895 square feet each—and yet still lend these homes a lot of our drama. When you vault the ceilings in a space, it naturally subtracts square footage from the second floor, so it creates a puzzle: How do you make the footprint big enough on the first floor so that by the time you get all of that cut out on the second floor, you’re still at your target?

Coffered ceiling

We want to know: What’s your favorite thing about our Sharpe homes? Our favorite part was starting the process of getting to know East Nashville. We’ll be back soon.

The Story of a Home: Hansel and Gretel

Technically, this is the story of two homes. Two very important homes, in that they signified the beginning of Bynum Residential Design and introduced the tone and template for so many of our future designs throughout Nashville.

Bynum Residential Design Nashville
Bynum Residential Design

*All photos shown are of “Gretel” only.

The Process: When we acquired a dilapidated house not fit for human habitation on a parcel of land in 12South, we did so with great excitement and not a little trepidation; this was to be our first official project as “Bynum Residential Design,” would be executed according to our specifications, and would be financed by—you guessed it—us. It was 2010. To maximize the space most efficiently, we drew up plans for two tall and narrow houses, side by side, to be joined by an inconspicuous connector (per Nashville code) but with two distinctly different facades and feels. Hence, the Hansel and Gretel name, which was given to these homes by my friend Bo Boaz, a Franklin designer who proclaimed the houses “Hansel and Gretel” as soon as he laid eyes on them.

Bynum Design kitchen

What Stands Out:

Meant to be? This corner in 12South—situated at the intersection of Vaulx Lane and Montrose Avenue—is a block from my own house. Every day for 15 years I drove by this crummy old house and thought, “If that house ever sells, I’m buying it.” And I drove down the hill one day, and there was a realtor putting a sign in the yard. I called him, and I was just sitting there and he answered his phone, and I said, “I see you putting the sign in the yard, and I want this house.”

Bynum Design living room

Differentiating Hansel and Gretel. When we do multiple houses on a lot I don’t want the houses to feel the same, like an apartment complex. If you become friends with your neighbor I want you to be able to go to their house and have a unique experience—not know where all their hidey-holes are, you know? We carefully planned ways to distinguish Hansel and Gretel from one another. The white one is very farmhousey—very clean and bright. They both have an open floorplan, but the back house with the shake on it had a darker, manlier vibe about it. The exterior was dark, the interior was dark, it had a bridge that went overhead. Everything I did was really intentional—even the landscape. The white house had a Beetlejuice sort of landscape; all we used were columnar arborvitae and round boxwoods. The back one—Hansel—has more of a suburban looking landscape, with beds hugging the house. They’re just completely different in every way.

Bynum Design living room

Getting our first farmhouse fix. Building Gretel in particular made me realize just how much I love the farmhouse style. I had never had a client who would let me do that in the past so when I sat down with a blank piece of paper that’s just what happened, and it was so magical. This farmhouse has now inspired several others that I’ve built for clients who asked me to replicate it.

Bynum Residential Design

Challenges Faced:

Working up the nerve. Probably the biggest challenge faced with these homes, being the first we’d done on our own, was the one we waged against our own confidence—just in having faith in our vision. In the end it taught us a huge and important lesson, which is that Bynum Residential Design really does have what it takes to build exactly the home we imagined in our minds and on our computer screens.

Bynum Design bathroom

Getting above the (very recently flooded) floodplain. Right after we tore down the house on this lot, it flooded. It was the Nashville Flood of 2010, and everything as far as the eye could see was drenched. Houses nearby had water up to their windows. Needless to say, we quickly realized we would need to elevate the houses we built considerably. This proved problematic for a couple of reasons—first, I was trying to keep these houses in scale with the neighborhood, and I didn’t want them to be gigantically tall. We had to immediately do some site work and start laying block. For the record, my biggest pet peeve is when a builder doesn’t excavate a crawlspace and just starts laying block. I didn’t want to do that here. We did build our houses far above the ground, though, which made us have to come back with a lot of extra soil at the end and grade everything up to the house. Throughout the build, I was so overwhelmed with this height thing that I was doing everything I could—even though it was a two-story house with a steep roof pitch—to keep it low, so that was a huge obstacle in my mind. Now if you drive by there and look at these houses, they feel completely normal—the right distance off the ground. They just feel smart and right.

Bynum Residential Design Nashville Uneasy neighbors. Some people in the neighborhood were kind of opposed to what we were doing because we were changing the architecture there. I had to stay true to my vision anyway, even though I definitely had a fear of the unknown—will people like this? Will somebody buy this? Believe it or not, people weren’t yet busting down the doors to move into 12South. There had been some other development on Vaulx Lane but nothing like what’s going on over there now. Not long after, we built four houses across the street from these; that opportunity came about because of this, too.

Bynum Residential Design

The Happily Ever After: Thinking back about these houses, I’m still blown away by how intimidated I was and by how pretty they turned out and how well they were received. When it came to getting started on this property, I ran into a mental block. I wanted the lot and I wanted to develop it, but I was afraid to bare my soul with these houses. In the end, we had people fighting over who was going to buy them. There were back-to-back showings, and both sold in a heartbeat. The guy who bought Gretel, the white farmhouse, says people still stop and ask him about it. And we’ve gotten numerous leads from people asking us to recreate Gretel for them. I’m so grateful that we were finally able to just get really nervy and do these houses exactly the way we wanted to. They were a huge hit.

The Story of a Home: 903 Lawrence Ave.

A roof-raising and room reconfiguration–coupled with the addition of a courtyard with a saltwater reflecting pool–revived this 1935 bungalow in 12South. See how Bynum Design made it happen.

Bynum Residential Design Nashville

The Process: More often than not we do new construction homes (which we’ve profiled in detail on the blog here and here), but we get a huge kick out of tackling remodels, too. This 3,623-square-foot home that we finished up and sold last month is great example of a thoughtful response to a classic bungalow, but we still managed to pack it full of Bynum Design hallmarks–custom details that make it feel one-of-kind, inspiring, roomy and cozy all at once. Though we made some pretty massive alterations to the structure, the front exterior retained every bit of its original charm, so that the rhythm of this sweet street goes uninterrupted. Are you in for a surprise? Check out the photos of this home when we acquired it.

Dee Bynum Nashville

Bynum Design

What Stands Out:

The courtyard and pool. We created a courtyard on the sunny side of the backyard—on the west side of the property—and built a wall around it to close it in. On the east side we did a master suite. And in the back, to enclose the courtyard, we added a two-car garage with a bonus room upstairs; the bonus room opens up to a balcony overlooking the pool. This is the first pool Bynum Design has had the opportunity to install. Our options were pretty limited by the courtyard’s small size, but we decided on a rectangular saltwater pool that we wanted to read as a reflecting pool so that it wasn’t about swimming as much as it was about atmosphere and vibe. Enclosing the courtyard with a garage/bonus room had the added benefit of giving the backyard the feeling of a cozy compound.

Backyard courtyard with pool Bynum Residential Design Nashville TN

Courtyard with pool Bynum Design Nashville

The master suite.  This master suite has an especially fabulous layout–the way the spaces come together and function, and the his and hers closets. We also love the big shower filled with natural light, thanks to the frosted window we installed.


Bynum Design master bath

Shower with window - Bynum Design Nashville

The center of the house. A super sweet spot in this home is the dining room, located at the base of the stairs and just opposite the bar. When you look up from the dining table, you see the stairs wrapping on around and a cutout in the ceiling, so that people upstairs can look right in on whatever social activity is happening downstairs. This space ended up defining the whole vibe of this house. We’ve decided that if this house had a personality, it would be extroverted.

Bynum Design Nashville


The lighting. If you know anything about us, you probably know that we’ll always say the lighting package in our homes stand out. We just can’t stress enough the importance of the right fixtures. We did a custom light fixture over the island, done by a local guy, David Phillips, who creates a lot of repurposed fixtures for our Marathon Village neighbors Antique Archaeology. David really helped us make the lighting package special, particularly in that vaulted space.

David Phillips Nashville lighting

Challenges Faced:

Raising the roof. To get the ceiling height and to reconfigure the layout the way we wanted, we had to raise the ceilings, reconfigure the roof, and add on. To do this, we took the dormers and the roof off, took the second floor off, and raised the ceilings so that they were 10 feet high. In the meantime, we kept the brick that was on the front of the home and on the two sides, later choosing to paint it. When rebuilding the roof, we returned its original roof pitch and built back the little dormer that was on the front of it.

dee bynum

Neighbor. This property is directly across the street from a church, which is kind of a hoot. We debated whether or not the proximity to a busy church was a good or bad thing, but we ultimately decided it was a good thing because if you have a party you have a big, built-in parking lot for friends to park, unless it’s on a Wednesday night, when they host their bible study, in which case they will ask you to move your car. The other great thing about it is when church is in session it’s very entertaining because there are lots of big hats, especially on Easter Sunday. So you can sit out on your front porch on Sunday mornings and have bloody marys and be entertained.

903 Lawrence Avenue Nashville

Vaulting the ceiling. One of the things that’s a Bynum Design hallmark is to do two-story spaces with huge windows, which in turn creates the vaulted ceilings that we’re also known for. We were able to accomplish that at the rear of this house, which is only a single story, by following the roofline, making a center line down the kitchen, and mirroring the roof on the other side so we created a tall, vaulted space there without actually making a two-story space.

Bynum Design kitchen

The Happily Ever After:

Funnily enough, this home was sold via a FaceTime session with someone who was out of state at the time. The new owner’s realtor came through on the morning that D. Luxe Home was finalizing the staging prior to the party we hosted to celebrate the completion of this home. While we haven’t spoken with or met the owner, we have always envisioned this being a social space, filled with friends and conversation. In Nashville’s temperate months, we see the master suite’s doors flung open to the courtyard. There will be lots of bare feet and the sounds of splashing water and laughter. This is our hope.

Bynum Design Tennessee


Bynum Design P.S. Check out our post on the D. Luxe Home blog about staging this house and throwing a big party to celebrate its completion. You’ll also find several before photos of this home here.